Fasting is perpetually associated with religion. everyone who has religion practices it. Especially in the Old Testament, fasting had a prominent place in the lives of the Jewish people. Whenever the Old Testament prophets sought to communicate with God, they neither ate food nor drank water. (Ex. 34:28). The wrath of God that comes about as a result of sin can be averted through solemn prayer and religious fasting. (Jon. 3:7-10; Joe; 2:15).
In the New Testament also, fasting is not a law made by man. It is the Saviour Jesus Christ himself who made it the beginning of His messianic ministry in his earthly life. (Mt. 4:2; Lk. 4:2). Our Saviour Jesus Christ has taught that fasting has the power of driving away evil spirits. (Mt. 17:21; Mk. 9:2).
The Apostles who were commanded to serve the church received guidance from the Holy Spirit while they were praying and fasting. (Acts 13:2). Priests and deacons who served as preachers of the gospel were inspired and ordained while fasting and praying. (Acts 13:3; 14:23).
It was through fasting and beseeching God that righteous people received what they needed and wished. (Ezra. 8:21; Ne. 9:1-3; Est. 4:16-17; Acts 10:30; 13:2-3).
As the theological interpretation of fast is beseeching God and asking him for the forgiveness of sin, it is therefore, mandatory to abstain from animal products and alcoholic drinks which incite lust. (Dan. 10:2-3). Fasting has been taught and practiced in the teachings of the apostles and Church Fathers. (The Law of kings Art. 15: Didas. 29).
As it said, “Blessed is he who fasts to feed the poor”, if any fasting man gives what he has allocated for his lunch and supper to the Church or to the poor, his fast will be more complete. (Isa. 58:6-11).
Fasting is not only abstinence from food. It will be a true fast if the eye is kept from seeing, the mouth from speaking and the ear from listening to evil things. (Mt. 5:21-30; St.Yared- Digua).
The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church has its own laws and orders of fasting. Accordingly, there are seven fasting periods.
1. The Great Fast (Lent)
2. Wednesdays and Fridays, except for the 50 days of celebration following Easter.
3. Fast of Nineveh
4. Gehad (the vigils/eves of Christmas and Epiphany)
5. The fast of the prophets or advent
6. The fast of the Apostles
7. The fast of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary.
May our God bless Our Fasting!