Into the Desert: A 40-day Summer Fast

A Peaceful Option for These Heated Times

Photo credit: Patrick Schneider – Unsplashed

Just what are we to do?  

“What are we supposed to do?” This question arose recently in a small group discussion with some of my family and friends. We had decided to get together (via an online meeting) to try and make sense of the unsettling things that have been happening in our country and beyond. As Christians, we pondered the classic question of what would Jesus do? We knew prayer was a definite answer. In addition to prayer, we also felt a need for action.

 And then someone brought up fasting.

Fasting? Lent is over!

This is summertime, and the living is supposed to be easy!  But as we all know, things are not easy right now.  Jesus spent 40 days in the desert praying and fasting in preparation for his ministry. Praying and fasting like Jesus will help us break our attachment to material things and will sharpen our spiritual focus. It will unite us as children of God in a unified goal of peace. And most importantly, it will draw us closer to God.

This summer, let’s go into the desert with Jesus and strengthen our soul for the spiritual battle that is taking place all around us.

Why fast and what is it?

Fasting is usually associated with abstaining from food or drink, although it can also be giving up comforts or luxuries.  When you fast, you withhold something good for a time, which helps us to depend more fully on God.  Deacon Sabatino Carnazzo of Mclean Va. explains fasting this way. It is “the deprivation of the good, in order to make a decision for a greater good.”

Jesus, as well as Moses, Elijah, St. John the Baptist, and many other holy men and women have gone into the desert to take part in the spiritual exercise of fasting. If it was good for them, it will be good for us.

Fasting has many benefits:

  • It helps us grow in discipline and the virtue of temperance
  • It breaks excessive or unnecessary attachments to material things
  • It engages us in a spiritual sacrifice in solidarity with Jesus (and others)
  • Along with prayer, fasting is a useful mode of self-reflection, contrition, and repentance
  • It is a powerful spiritual weapon to use against the tactics of the evil one

If you are interested in fasting as a spiritual weapon, check out this article.

INTO THE DESERT: A 40-day Summer Fast

In the current state of affairs, many are stressed out, worried and unsettled. People want to do something but don’t know what. Into the Desert: A 40-day Summer Fast is an opportunity to join your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for a 40-day peaceful fast during these heated times.

To join the 40-day Summer Fast

  1. Find at least one other person to take part in the fast with you
  2. Discern what your fast will be
  3. Consider offering this summer fast for serenity in our society
  4. Make sure to focus on prayer too for the 40 days!

Suggested time: July 7 – August 15*
July 7 is the feast day of Blessed Ralph Milner, a martyr for the faith
August 15 is the feast of the Assumption

*If you read this after July 7, YOU CAN STILL PARTICIPATE.  You can start now and finish on August 15 – you don’t have to do all forty days. Or, if you really want to do the full time, then count 40 days from whatever day you start to determine your finishing date.

Photo Credit: Kamil Szumotalski-Unsplashed

Fasting Ideas

FOOD- Fast from something you really love, like sweets, red meat, bread, wine, salting your food, whatever!

MEALS- Fast from snacking between meals. Or how about eating only one big meal per day and two smaller meals?

DRINK- Make water your only drink. No alcohol, coffee, tea, juice, milk, etc.

HOT SHOWERS- Fasting from hot showers during the heat of summer might not be as bad as trying this in the winter, but cold showers will surely be a challenge.

EXCESSIVE NOISE & DISTRACTIONS-Fast from listening to the radio or music or podcast in the car. (Good opportunity to pray instead) Turn off the TV when not watching.

SOCIAL MEDIA/NEWS FEED-Though it is important to stay informed of what is going on, you can fast from social media and news feeds by keeping your screen time to one hour or less per day.

THE SNOOZE BUTTON-Create what is called “The Heroic Moment” by getting up as soon as you hear the alarm clock. No hitting the snooze button. Say a prayer and immediately start your day.

If you want more fasting ideas, check this out.

If you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments below. We could all use ideas on how to make our relationship with God stronger.

A Prayer to Prepare Your Heart to Fast:

Dear Father,
How priceless is your unfailing love.
You have fearfully and wonderfully created us.
You have ordained all our days and written them in your book before we were born.
All your thoughts towards us are precious.
We praise you because we are your handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, ones you have prepared in advance for us to do.
We come before you today to humble ourselves before you,
submitting to your will for our lives.
Because of you, Father, surely goodness and mercy will follow us
all the days of our lives.
Let us be devoted to living out your will on earth,
to be more concerned with storing up treasures in Heaven than on earth.
Lead us, Lord, in the way we should go.
Direct our steps and fulfill your plans for our lives.
Let our feet run swiftly to follow after you.
In Jesus name,
Amen.
Prayer credit to Lynette Kittle at iBelieve.com

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

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