Today is day four of the Great Fast, and I am already feeling better physically. I am less tired. I have more energy. I am sleeping better. Just after a few days of fasting, I have already noticed my body is reacting positively, and I am thankful. Even the prayers of the Church recognize there is both a spiritual and physical reality to fasting.
In the Presanctified Liturgy we pray the following prayer after receiving Holy Communion.Almighty Lord, You have created all things in wisdom. In Your inexpressible providence and great goodness You have brought us to these saving days, for the cleansing of our souls and bodies, for control of our passions, in the hope of the Resurrection. After the forty days You delivered into the hands of Your servant Moses the tablets of the law in characters divinely traced. Enable us also, O benevolent One, to fight the good fight, to complete the course of the fast, to keep the faith inviolate, to crush underfoot the heads of unseen tempters, to emerge victors over sin and to come, without reproach, to the worship of Your Holy Resurrection. For blessed and glorified is Your most honorable and majestic name, of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forevermore.
This prayer expresses why I am already feeling better. Our bodies and souls share a special union of will and action. Our soul leads our body, and our body affects our soul. When we fast, we not only feel physically hungry, we feel spiritual joy as we take back control of our passions. We learn that a little hunger can be tolerated for the sake of our soul.
We all grow up hearing about the spiritual benefit of fasting. I need the fast for my body’s sake. I need the fast to help me regain physical control. I need the fast to detox. Who am I fooling? I need the fast!