_The History of the Fast_
Fasting is preventing. It is, before everything, self control.
And it is the first commandment that God gave to the man.
For He prevented him from eating from one tree
in Heaven telling him “17but of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in
the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gn
2:17). And so the first man lived in self control of this
issue until Satan seduced him so he get tempted and
ate (Gn 3:6).
And God created the man vegetarian ever since
the beginning eating beans and tree fruits (Gn 1:29).
And the animal also was herbivorous (Gn 1:30). And
God did not allow the man to eat meat until evil
spread too much on the Earth and God felt sad that
he created the man (Gn 6:6, 7). And thus God
allowed for the flood which vanished every living from
the face of the Earth except for the family of our
father Noah and the animals that went into the ark
Then God allowed the man to eat meat after the
Noah’s ark landed by saying: “Every moving thing
that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all
things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat
flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (Gn 9:3, 4).
And so with the permission to eat meat, the
preventing factor still existed. And it is preventing
them from eating flesh with its live. The man is not
allowed to eat flesh with blood. And not allowed to kill
his brother (Gn 9:6)… And forbidding eating flesh with
blood is in the covenant that God gave to humans
through Prophet Moses (Gn 17:10). Also in accepting
people from different nations. God said to the fathers
the apostles in their first meeting they held: that they
tell people coming into faith from the nations “that
you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood,
from things strangled, and from sexual immorality”
And in the convent too He forbade eating unclean
And fasting is not only a virtue related to
food: What do you eat? And When do you eat?
But there is also fasting of the soul…
It is very good that the body fasts but does the
soul fasts as well at the same time? There is a higher
level from the fasting soul, which is the ascetic soul.
But because this asceticism is not easy for everyone
to do, some limitations were placed for normal
humans… And even the body fasting, specific days
and occasions were set for it because not every
human can fast continuously…
But the fasting of the heart, the mind and
the senses from sin is required for everyone.
For he who fasts his mouth from food and does
not fast his heart from sinful desires, his tongue from
wrongful words, and his mind from false thoughts…
The fasting of this man becomes false… Because God
wants the purity of the heart before everything else.
And out of the purity of the heart comes all types of
fasts whether body concerned or soul concerned.
The fast has its positives as well, and it is
not only humiliation of the body.
Maybe one of the most important of its positives
is prayer. So that the soul participated with the body
in its fast. Thus, we repeat in the fast liturgies the
sentence “Fasting and prayer are the ones that…” And
even for casting out daemons the Lord said “However,
this kind does not go out except by prayer and
fasting” (Mt 17:21).
And one of the important positives that
accompanies fast is the acts of mercy.
As the person while fasting feel the pain of
hunger and need for food, he has to be merciful with
the hungry and the needy. And one of the fathers
once said “If you do not have something to give
them, fast and give them your food”.
And we have noticed the importance of this issue
when the Divine Inspiration mentioned it in Prophet
Isaiah’s book. When the people cried out to Him
saying “Why have we fasted,' they say, "and You
have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and
You take no notice?” (Is 58:3). So God’s answer to
them included: “Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day
for a man to afflict his soul?... Would you call this a
fast, And an acceptable day to the LORD? Is this not
the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of
wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the
oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is
it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that
you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not
hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Is 58:5-7).
So there is an acceptable fast the Lord chooses and
another than is unacceptable.
One of the important positives of the fast is:
Actually, it is the most important positive because
fasting without repentance is like a bird without
wings. Therefore, the church has set the fasting of
Nineveh People two weeks before the Great Lent so
that they set an example for us in our fasting…
All Nineveh People fasted a very precise fasting
and they humiliated themselves, so God forgave them
and did not vanish them. But how was that? The Holy
Bible says “Then God saw their works, that they
turned from their evil way; and God relented from the
disaster that He had said He would bring upon them,
and He did not do it.” (Jon 3:10).
We notice here that the reason God forgave them
was based on their repentance.
Some people may say: We hear many sermons
about fasting and there are many fasts that they have
fasted every year, yet the sins are still as is and the
nature did not change!! And we say that the flaw here
is not in the fast but it is in the way they fasted. They
thought that fasting is just a duration related to their
food, its types and timing of their eating! And they
forgot the virtues of the fast and did not exercise
while fasting on leaving their sins…
So what are these exercises that are related to
First, we mention exercises related to
Every person while fasting should have a serious
sitting with himself and discover all his sins honestly
without complements or explanations to himself. Then
he should start exercising himself on leaving these
sins that he loves and that control him and that he
keep repeating in his confessions. Also the sins that
people can see in him even if he does not know or
confess about them. And firmly keep these sins away
and close all the doors that allow them into himself.
Meaning he should avoid the reasons that lead to
Second: he should train himself on what he
needs of the fruits of the spirit:
And they are as St. Paul the Apostle mentioned in
(Gal 5:22, 23): “love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, selfcontrol”…
He can take them one by one. Because he
can’t exercise on all of them at one shot. Especially
that love itself has many details in (1 Co 13: 4-7).
There are certain exercises related to
praying and memorizing:
So he should train himself to start his day and
end with prayer. And pray with understanding,
passion, concentration and humility. He should also
train on prayers of praising, thanksgiving, confessing
sins and asking help in everything. And prayer for
others, for the church, the society and God’s Kingdom
in every place. And he should train on not being fast
He also should exercise memorizing psalms, parts
in Agpeya, hymns and praises and chapters from the
Holy Bible. And exercise meditating in what he
memorizes and use it in his prayers.
Other exercises related to giving:
He should be honest in paying the tithes, first
offering and vows. And as much as he can did not
reject a request by a needy and remembered the Lord
commandment in (Pv 3:27, 28).
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