Why do Orthodox Christians Fast

Orthodox Christianity 101
By Orthodoxy Christianity 101
March 26, 2024

Fasting. When you hear this word, what does it conjure in your mind? For some, it’s the vision of a grueling, hunger-stricken ordeal, but for Orthodox Christians, it’s much more than that. It’s a spiritual journey, a time of reflection and growth. So, why do Orthodox Christians fast? Let’s delve into this intriguing tradition.

The Spiritual Essence of Fasting

The History of Fasting in Orthodox Christianity

In Orthodox Christianity, fasting is a venerable tradition. Its roots stretch back to the early days of the Church, a testament to its significance. Did you know that fasting was even practiced by Jesus Himself, setting a precedent for future generations?

The Meaning of Fasting

In the simplest terms, fasting involves abstinence from certain foods. However, the essence of fasting goes beyond diet restrictions. It’s like cleaning the windows of the soul, giving us a clearer vision of God’s love and grace. Isn’t that a beautiful perspective?

The Benefits of Fasting

Spiritual Benefits

Fasting in Orthodox Christianity isn’t a mere ritual, it’s a spiritual discipline. It paves the way for spiritual growth, fostering a deeper connection with God. It’s not just about avoiding meat or dairy; it’s about tuning into the spiritual frequency, minimizing worldly distractions, and focusing on the divine.

Physical Benefits

Then there’s the physical aspect. Fasting often leads to a detoxified body and a rejuvenated spirit. How’s that for a divine detox?

The Fasting Seasons in Orthodox Christianity

The Great Lent

Ever heard of the Great Lent? It’s the most important fasting period in Orthodox Christianity, spanning forty days leading up to Easter. Imagine, forty days of reflection, repentance, and spiritual growth!

The Advent Fast

Then there’s the Advent fast, forty days of fasting before Christmas. It’s a time of anticipation and preparation for the birth of Christ.

Fasting Rules and Observances

Types of Fast

Orthodox Christians typically fast from meat, dairy products, and eggs. But did you know there are also different types of fast? Some fasts are stricter than others, involving abstinence from oil, fish, or even wine. It’s all about self-control and self-discipline.

Days to Fast

Orthodox Christians also observe fasting on specific days of the week, usually Wednesdays and Fridays. But why these days? They commemorate the betrayal and crucifixion of Christ, providing a weekly reminder of His sacrifice.

How to Approach Fasting

The Role of Prayer and Almsgiving

In Orthodox Christianity, fasting is closely linked with prayer and almsgiving. It’s a trinity of spiritual practices, enhancing the fast’s spiritual value. Imagine fasting as a voyage, with prayer as the compass and almsgiving as the fuel. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The Right Attitude Towards Fasting

Fasting should be approached with a humble heart and a willing spirit. It’s not a time for spiritual boasting, but for humility and introspection. Remember, it’s not just about what you give up, but what you gain in return.


In conclusion, Orthodox Christians fast for spiritual growth, self-discipline, and to grow closer to God. It’s not an empty ritual, but a deeply meaningful practice. So, next time you hear about Orthodox fasting, remember, it’s not just about the food, but about the journey of the soul.

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