As a child I learned to “give something up” for Lent. My meager efforts at abstaining from candy or from teasing my little brother pale in comparison to the regimen of a forty-day desert fast. As a spiritual tradition, fasting goes back millennia. Jesus, in embarking on his wilderness experience, was following the practice set by his ancestors. It was a form of purification.
Rather than using the season as an endurance contest, the traditional practices can be seen as soul-full habits. Just as one doesn’t pray for forty days and then cease until next Lent, so should our efforts at fasting become ingrained ways of practicing our faith.