Hank Hanegraaff, the host of the 𝘉𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘈𝘯𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘔𝘢𝘯 broadcast and the 𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘜𝘯𝘱𝘭𝘶𝘨𝘨𝘦𝘥 podcast, continues teaching on the many splendored discipline of fasting. As you fast and pray and give alms, the genuine love of God will inevitably stimulate a reciprocal love for needy human beings who bear His image and likeness upon the earth. And when this is so, God will infuse you with His uncreated energy. Though your stomach may be empty, your spirit will be fully satisfied. If we are satiated with food and drink, we are prone to a false sense of self-sufficiency and easily blinded to the needs of those lacking bread and water. But in fasting we are refashioned as “the poor in spirit,” illumined to our dependence on God and to the needs of those fashioned in His image and likeness. Saint Basil enumerates the benefits of fasting. “What’s easier to the stomach,” he asks, “a plain diet that carries you through the night, or rich foods that weigh you down like a rock when you lie down?” The wise Cappadocian father used a merchant ship as an apt illustration. Such a ship is far safer and more maneuverable when light than when excessively weighed down. “The ship completely loaded down is sunk by a minor swell in the waters. But the boat that has a captain smart enough to toss overboard the extra weight will ride high above even surging waves.” And so it is with over-indulged bodies. “A person gets absorbed with filling up, getting weighed down until finally falling into ill health. But those who are well-equipped, light, and truly nourished, avoid the prospect of serious disease. They are like the boat in stormy weather that goes right over a dangerous rock.” Basil continues with ironic humor. “The stomach should give a vacation to the mouth!” It “never stops demanding, and what it takes in today is forgotten tomorrow. Whenever it is filled, it philosophizes about abstinence; whenever it is emptied, it forgets those opinions.” With all that fasting has to commend it, the question that remains to be answered is, “how can we celebrate this discipline for the remainder of our lives?” As with the memorization of Scripture, set small, attainable goals. Consider following the Orthodox manner of fasting on Wednesday and Friday (https://www.goarch.org/chapel/calendar). Fortify yourself with prayer, consider the needs of others, and drink ample amounts of water. The purposes of fasting are codified in F-A-S-T: Forgiveness, Almsgiving, Supplication, Transformation.
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