5 Fasting Practices for Lent and Beyond

Feb 23, 2024

Reading time: 5 Minutes

woman praying with a bible next to her

Spiritual fasting is most commonly known today as abstaining from food for a certain period of time in order to humble ourselves and find spiritual solitude with God. Some do this to seek clarity when facing a challenge or big decision, some to simply reconnect with the Spirit. In Psalm 35:13, King David stated “I humbled myself with fasting, and my prayer was genuine.” 


While dietary fasts are mentioned in the in the Bible more than 70 times, fasting is not just about food. There are other things we may want to consider “giving up” but it’s important to examine the heart of the matter. In today’s busy world it can be challenging to step away for even a moment and find true intimacy with God, distraction free. It might be intimidating to refrain from our habits in order to seek spiritual renewal, but it is so beneficial. What is keeping you from alone time with God? How might you set something aside, even temporarily, to draw closer to Him? 


Here are 5 non-dietary fasts worth considering:




A shopping fast entails refraining from purchasing items that aren’t necessary for survival. Of course, a benefit of this is that it saves money, however, giving up little pleasures evokes a sense of humility and fixes our eyes on the Provider of all things.  In The Parable of the Rich Fool, Jesus warns against the pursuit of material wealth, declaring, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15). We are not measured by the fancy things we own; God judges our heart alone. Fasting from excessive shopping readjusts our heart posture and acknowledges that Christ alone satisfies. 


Social Media 


This one is hard. Social media websites are programmed to make users addicted. We get lost in the sea of entertainment without realizing how much time has passed. If you’re like me, you’ve tried deleting the app off your phone to avoid the endless scrolling, only to download it again a day later for one reason or another. A fast from social media gives us time. Time that could be dedicated to studying scripture, praying, or serving others. What if the hour we spent on social media was instead spent in The Word or writing uplifting notes to friends and family members? What an impact that would have on our hearts! 


Additionally, abstaining from social media gives us the confidence of who we are in Christ. Whether we admit it or not, looking at highlight reels of others creates covetousness in our heart. We end up feeling unsatisfied because we compare our situation to the things we see on a screen. We compare to feel better about ourselves too. We all know that comparison is the thief of joy, so why do we put ourselves in a place to compare? A social media fast gives us the chance to find contentment in who our Creator declares us to be. 




In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus withdrew into the wilderness to fast and pray, setting an example for us to follow. In silence, we enter into a peaceful stillness that allows us to listen for God’s direction. Finding time for silence can be tricky for those of us with families at home, but the Bible clearly tells us that our Father wants us to spend time with Him. If this fast sounds impossible for you, I encourage you to use your alone time wisely. Instead of calling a friend or listening to music in the car, sit in silence and listen for God’s voice. If your kids are at a point where they can understand, ask that they respect your time of solitude with God. Go to a quiet place and listen. 




Let’s be real, the world can be a dark, scary place. Chaos erupting across the globe captures our attention and we can’t look away. It evokes sadness, despair, and even hopelessness. A fast from the news media gives us the opportunity to re-center and remember where our hope comes from: Jesus. By temporarily removing negative news and replacing it with the hope and joy found in Christ, we can return with the intention to pray, serve, and support those in need. Read more about news-fasting in this Medi-Share blog by Phillip Snyder: Faith and Hope in this News Era 




As followers of Christ, we’re called to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). A fast from complaining challenges us to cultivate a heart of gratitude and refrain from expressing negativity. This time of fasting is an opportunity to reflect on the abundance He has provided and give thanks to the Lord. As instructed by the apostle Paul, we should substitute complaints with dwelling on things that are pure, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy. Focusing on the things listed in Philippians 4:8 can be beneficial to our mental, physical and spiritual health. 



Fasting is not meant to be obvious or impressive. In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus commands us not to boast in our spiritual deed of fasting, but to keep it between ourselves and our Father in Heaven, who will reward us. Fasting from these things can be beneficial, maybe even necessary, to our sanctification. We will be rewarded with a refreshed mind, a renewed soul, and a deeper connection with God. 


So whether it’s food, shopping, social media or something else, let us use the practice of fasting not as a showy statement for others, but a true time of sacrifice and sanctification to draw us closer to our Lord.

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