Many Christians do not give much importance to fasting. They fast without conscience or are not doing it at all. Yet, we have to receive fasting with joy, not with fear and sorrow, because it’s not scary for us, but for the devils. In the case of a possessed person, fasting really does a lot, especially when is accompanied by his good sister, the prayer. Therefore, Christ sad: “But this kind does not go out except by fasting and by prayer.” (Mat 17, 21)
So, it is certain that fasting sends away our salvation enemies; we should love it and not be feared by it. We should rather be afraid of eating a lot, especially when it is accompanied by drunkenness, because too much food and drink subdue us to passions, while fasting, on the contrary, gives us spiritual freedom. What kind of proof for fasting benefits do we need more, when we know that it fights against devil and it delivers us from the sins slavery?
Not only monks with angelic life are accompanied by the fasting power, but also laymen, who are flying on the wings of fasting till the heights of holy contemplation.
I recall that the two great prophets of the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah, although they had great daring towards God, by their virtues, they often fasted, and fasting brought them closer to God.
Even long before them, in the beginning of creation, when God created man, He immediately gave the command to fast. If Adam fulfilled this commandment, he would be saved. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.(Genesis 2, 16-17).
This was no other than the command to fast. If in Paradise was a need for fasting, there is a bigger need outside it. Before man was spiritually hurt, fasting had been a medicine for him; now more than ever when his soul is hit by sin, fasting is a medicine. Before the war of pleasures begun, there had been a need for fasting; the need is grater now, when we wage wars against devil. If Adam had obeyed this commandment, he would not have heard the words: for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3, 19). Because Adam didn’t obey, there subsequently came death, worries, sufferings, and a life worse than any death.
Do you see how God becomes angry when fasting is despised? And you cannot imagine how much He rejoices at our fasting. Death touched man because he despised fasting and also through fasting death can not have power on man.
(St. John Chrysostom)
Translated by Ioniţă Radu