PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE ANCIENT PRACTICE OF FASTING AND ABSTINENCE
(cf. Publicans Prayer Book. Melkite Eparchy of Newton. Sophia Press, Boston, MA. 2008. p. 609 )
Fasting, like prayer, is something we can grow into. If you are not accustomed to fasting, it can be helpful to begin at one level and deepen your practice as you grow in your life in Christ. The following plan might be helpful:
- Beginning Level: On any day, especially Fridays do not eat any meat and offer a brief prayer several times throughout the day. During the seasons of Lent, attend at least one Lenten Service each week. Other days, plan your schedule so as not to eat anything for several hours before receiving Holy Communion.
- Intermediate Level: In addition to the above, on fast days (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday), do not eat anything before noon and no meat thereafter. Keep additional fast days during the fasting seasons. During Lent, in addition to avoiding meat on Fridays, also avoid dairy (milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, etc.) products. Attend two Lenten Services weekly and perform some act of charity each day.
- Advanced Level: In addition to the above, keep each day of Lent as a fast day. Attend all the Divine Services during the fasting seasons. Replace entertainments such as TV, movies, internet, shopping, etc. with prayer, spiritual reading and acts of charity. The practice can be applied to anytime of the year especially to further spiritual growth.
Some demons "can only come out by fasting and prayer" (Mark 9:29).