I am not that well acclimated to either Lent or the practice of fasting. Scot McKnight’s book on fasting is the best treatment I know on the subject in which he makes the case from scripture that fasting is essentially a response to something, perhaps one’s sins, some happenings, or anticipation of God’s promises being fulfilled in a given situation. It has been a while since I’ve read my copy, but this gets at something of the summary of his scripture based suggestion, which actually is different than how it has been and is taught. Just an all around good book, which covers the angles from scripture, as well as gives words of warning and advice to those who maybe shouldn’t fast at all, and to the rest of us.
I have to acknowledge that I’ve not practiced fasting, at least for many years, and I’m hardly acclimated at all to the practice of Lent. We are creatures who not only need food for physical sustenance, but we enjoy the fellowship that can come with it, whether (preferably, I say) at the table, or in our chairs in the same room. But there is a season for fasting as well as feasting.
I particularly see fasting as helpful during a time when I want to be in engaged ongoing prayer over a matter, usually of grave concern. Since I’m not used to the practice, I try to make up for it in other ways. One way or another I want to give myself to the matter at hand in prayer to God. And keep on praying until I have some sense of release and peace on the matter. Not meaning that I won’t continue to pray about it.
There is no getting around the fact that Lent itself is to be a season of fasting of some sort. Just how we’re to practice that is often not prescribed, unless you’re part of some circles, and today compared to the history of the church, is relatively lax. It amounts to a period of 40 days of fasting, some giving up meats or what not (chocolate?), with the goal of somehow or another participating in Lent as we think of our Lord’s sufferings and death for us and look forward to his resurrection. Knowing that Jesus’ death and resurrection is not only our salvation, but that salvation takes us into something of that reality in this life.