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Should Christians fast for Lent?

Updated on February 23, 2015

Every year during Lent we are advised to give something up that means a lot to us whether it is chocolate or coffee, for example. A lot of emphasis is put on fasting. This is the abstinence of food in an attempt to connect with God. It is to make one so desperate that they would abstain from other things that can distract us from God.

Should this actually be done? Not only is it not practical when it comes to the work place but what damage does it do to the body?

Muscles waste. The muscles start turning into glucose. This is to preserve the brain. The body is consuming your muscles so that it can feed off the sugar. That sugar will go to the brains, kidneys, etc.

The immune system is compromised. The intestinal tract, responsible for 70% of your antibodies) will cease to assist your immunity. This gives virus, bacteria and toxins an opportunity to continue existing inside your gut.

Lowers metabolism and causes increased level in cortisol. Cortisol raises stress.

Fasting damages digestion.

There are peak times in the body for the secretion of digestive enzymes in preparation for our meals. When abstaining from food, these enzymes continue to circulate within and damage the lining of the digestive tract. Gastrointestinal problems like acid reflux and ulcers will occur.


Fasting is never recommended prolonged. The benefits are only if it is down once a month that it may prevent heart disease and insulin resistance which is the precursor to diabetes. Apparently there is a possibility that can reduce cancer risks.

From examining these pros and cons I would advise that fasting not be undertaken. People will be quick to say that Jesus fasted Himself according to the gospel of Him fasting in the wilderness. The facts are that it is physically impossible to fast for 40 days and live to tell the tale. You can only live at the most 30 days but you’d be on the brink of death. How can Jesus hike in the wilderness on Day 40? He would have died in the wilderness.

My opinion is that Jesus did not abstain from food as a mean of fasting. His being in the wilderness was fasting in that He withdrew from worldly influences and was connected to God through fervent prayer. See this scripture:

Matthew 6:16

"Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17"But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face…

How does one show that one is fasting in public? It reminds me of the Pharisees praying in public for everyone to see.


Not only is fasting really bad on the body, there is another concern I have. The devil is the most powerful when a person is weak. To undergo prolonged fasting, the body is going to get weak and thus the spirit.

A German girl, called Anneliese Michel, suffered from severe demonic possession. When she was 17, she suffered convulsions. She was diagnosed with grand mal epilepsy. She experienced satanic hallucinations and voices taunting her that she was going to die. Her parents suspected that she did not have a medical condition but that it was demonic possession. They withdrew her from all medical treatment and relied on exorcisms.

Anneliese decided to fast because she believed it would rid her of Satan’s presence. In 1976, she died from dehydration and malnourishment. She also had pneumonia and a high fever. It was her true belief that fasting would save her that contributed to her demise. This is a brief synopsis of her story. You can learn more in the documentary video posted below.

Conclusion. Fasting is unnecessary and should be avoided. Our whole lives should be connecting with God not just during lent or a fasting period. I think Jesus would rather us do something productive with a full stomach than being weak lying about not doing anything.

Anneliese Michel


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    • Claire Evans profile image

      Claire Evans 3 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you, Hannah

    • Hannah David Cini profile image

      Hannah David Cini 3 years ago from Nottingham

      Very much agreed. :)

    • Claire Evans profile image

      Claire Evans 3 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you.

      Each to his/her own. When one realizes that it is impeding daily activities and is starting to harm the body, then one must quit.

    • Hannah David Cini profile image

      Hannah David Cini 3 years ago from Nottingham

      I enjoyed reading this. One of the churches that I was at when I was younger encouraged fasting but we wouldn't take the whole day out to pray, we would just go around our normal life's hungry and in hindsight i think we really missed the point.

      I do reckon that ther is a place for fastinfor but not just for the sake of it.

    • Claire Evans profile image

      Claire Evans 3 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks Kathleen. You're right, people must follow their convictions but they must fully understand what they are doing. My mother as a child abstained from food and went to church. As she was at the altar, she fainted. My grandmother said that was the last time she fasted. Then, of course, you get people who pitch up to work and can't do it because they are too hungry. I fully understand one giving up something they enjoy for Lent but I see no benefit in fasting.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Interesting point of view. I think Christians should follow their convictions, not an arbitrary rule. I was raised Southern Baptist, but I was introduced to observing Lent while I was in college living on a hall with a group of Catholics. I've always gotten a lot out of the annual experience of giving up something to help me concentrate on the coming of Easter. I've never felt convicted to fast, but I know many believers who have. I think it is only beneficial if it is something you do because you feel personally called to do it.