I want to fast but I think that fifty-five days of fasting are too long. What is your advice?
His Grace Bishop Youssef:
To say ‘fifty-five days of fasting are too long’ is quite a strong statement that does not build spiritually; but gives the impression that we are negotiating and wanting to give God what we think He deserves and nothing more.
Fasting becomes very hard when we start counting it by days and hours, when it is considered just a change of diet and food deprivation. If we do not have the real spirit of fast, humiliate ourselves before the Lord and, having our sins before our eyes at all times, repent and ask for His forgiveness we will not benefit from the fast and it will not be accepted by our Lord. The Israelites fasted and afflicted themselves before God; yet their fast was unacceptable to Him “Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’” (Isa 58:3).
Our fast should be motivated by a sincere desire to communicate with God. It is a time when we stop everything else and give Him our attention responding wholeheartedly to His word to us. I suggest you read more about the great sacrifice our Lord Jesus Christ made for us to leave His throne and incarnate, carry our sins and be crucified for our sake. If we truly feel the immensity of this sacrifice we will not question the days or the weeks of fasting.
I would like you to read Isaiah 58 and meditate on the acceptable and the unacceptable fast. Our Church is rich with literature about the spirituality of Fasting and its benefits. I hope during these holy days, you make the effort to read some of them lifting your heart to the Lord asking Him to give you the strength and to guide you continually to follow His ways with joy and gladness. May your fast be for the glory of God and a means of repentance.