Hi y’all! My name is Jordan and I plan on fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. The only catch is - Im 14. This is primarily for spiritual reasons and to prove something to myself. Any advice? I have experience with fasting, I’m 5’6, 207lbs. and at 25-30 percent BF. I workout regularly.
You can’t just do 40 days right off the bat, you need to build up to it. I would strongly suggest talking to your spiritual director before attempting this. The desert abbas and ammas scrutinised the motives of their pupils very carefully before letting them attempt a fast of that magnitude.
For more information, consult the chapters on fasting in A Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster. It has the best outline of the Christian practice of fasting that I’ve read. I don’t know whether the book is still in print or not, but your pastor or spiritual director will likely have a copy, because it is a classic modern work on spiritual disciplines of all kinds.
Apparently “40 days” was the local way of saying “for a long time”.
Hello Jordan! I don’t recommend fasting for a 14 year old person. You have much growth and development ahead of you including bones, tendons and ligaments, and your devoted brain. Your God wants these things to develop well so that you can serve for a a long time.
My suggestion: a 40 hour fast with quietness and prayer, then fill the rest of the 40 days with a meaningful fast from one of the following for example-
Curse words or unkind speech
… ? Anyone have more ideas
Think of something that would be hard but not impossible, and would not harm your god given precious body
I currently am doing an up to 40 day fast for spiritual reasons. As a mom to kids your age, I would never recommend it. You’re in a crucial time of your growth. God wants you to make sacrifices of worldly things to draw closer to Him, but perhaps an electronics fast would be a better choice at your age. I’m 41, with plenty of body fat, and have been fat adapted for 5 years before I’ve tried this!
Do you have a spiritual leader who suggested this for you? If not do some reading, the spiritual fasts always have some days off, or just restrict certain foods. Doing 40 days completely fasting is not something that is normally done. Educate yourself more on the topic of fasting.
Also you are still growing, you need to feed yourself in a healthy manner, fasting can be part of that, you might try doing alternate days or even one meal a day fasts, limiting yourself to no carbs, or something similar.
In the Christian tradition, as described in Richard Foster’s book, A Celebration of Discipline, fasting was something that ascetics trained for. Without that training, fasting that long is difficult and risky. In any case, a directee would be questioned long and hard about his or her motives for wanting to fast that long, before the spiritual director would consent, and a forty-day fast was considered strictly the limit.
The forty-day limit is both mystical and practical. The number forty has significance in Hebrew and Christian numerology (the children of Israel wandered for forty years in the desert, Christ fasted for forty days at the beginning of his ministry, etc.), and forty days of fasting is also getting close to the limit of what the human body can tolerate.
The Christian Church has modified the rule of fasting for laypeople over the millennia. Firstly, hard laborers and the sick are not supposed to fast at all. Secondly, “fasting” now means a reduced quantity of food, not the complete absence of it. So a meal and-a-half a day is considered an acceptable fast for the vast majority of the people (those under religious vows have different expectations for themselves). The related term is “abstinence,” which refers to modifying the quality of food, regardless of the quantity (so fish as a substitute for meat, and so forth).
And the point is not so much to deprive oneself, as it is to free oneself from domination by habitual pleasures. Although, interestingly, I have found that my cravings for certain carb-laden foods, though still present, don’t dominate me on an ad libitum keto diet, the way they did when I was a carb-burner.
I really think they (Catholics) need to go back to true “fasting” during Lent. At least until dinner. Of course, people who can’t fast, they don’t have to. But the way it is now, it’s too wishy-washy.