How should I fast as a Christian?

Religious fasting

All the great religious founders went through a phase of renunciation. Before his public ministry, Jesus retired to fast for 40 days in the desert; Mohammed fasted before the Koran was revealed to him; and Moses went up Mount Sinai and fasted forty days before receiving God's word.


In Islam, fasting is a divine commandment, one of the five pillars of this religion. Fasting takes place in Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar year. Fasting has the character of an exercise of penance. The soul should be cleansed and purified, the relationship with God and fellow human beings should be strengthened.

Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke for 30 days between sunrise and sunset. Sexual intercourse is also prohibited. The evening fasting takes place in larger groups - so Ramadan has a strong familial and community-promoting character.

Hospitality and alms for the poor are of great importance during Ramadan. Those who cannot fast because of illness or other reasons are obliged to give food or alms to the poor.


Buddha taught the way of the middle, he refused self-mortification. Neither gluttony nor hunger are recommended afterwards. Eating little makes meditation easier on the way to inner peace and enlightenment.

That is why Buddhist monks and nuns forego all food after noon every day. There are also monthly fasting days.


Yom Kippur is the great day of atonement and fasting in Judaism. It is forbidden to eat, drink or smoke on this day. You do not wash, abstain from sex and do not go to work, all sins committed before should be atoned for that day.

In addition, there are five other general days of fasting on which the Jews commemorate sad events in Jewish history:

The most important day is the 9th Aw (Aw = Jewish month in July / August). It is also not allowed to drink or eat on it, it is considered the darkest day because several sad events came together on this date.

The temple was destroyed twice (586 BC and 70 AD), in 135 AD the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans was bloodily suppressed and in 1492 the Inquisition began in Spain, the Jews had to leave the country. On this day nothing is to be eaten or drunk from sunset to sunset of the next day.

The other days of mourning are not handled quite so strictly by believing Jews, they only fast from sunrise to sunset. The days were:

  • The 10th Tevet: The beginning of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem.
  • The 17th of Tammuz: Remembrance of the day the Babylonians took the walls of Jerusalem.
  • The 3rd Tishri: Remembrance of the assassination of the governor Gedalja.
  • The 13th Adar on the day before the festival of Purim.

There are other fasting days on which fasting is not strictly prescribed, for example the eve of the monthly new moon, your own wedding day or the day of your parents' death.


For Christians, the period of fasting or passion lasts from Ash Wednesday to Easter. During this time people should reconsider themselves through abstinence, repent and seek closeness to God.

But today there are no longer any strict rules. Everyone can decide for themselves how they want to organize Lent. For years the Protestant Church has been calling for its "7 weeks without" campaign. Whether seven weeks without alcohol, nicotine, sweets or television, people should use the time to rethink their lifestyle and find new perspectives.

The little Lent of Christians is Advent. But it was never strictly observed. This time served as preparation for Christmas and is no longer relevant as a fasting time in the population.

Originally, Christianity fasted on two fixed days. Wednesdays were fasted because Judas betrayed Jesus that day, and the Friday fast commemorated Jesus' crucifixion. This tradition was also largely lost. The custom of not eating meat on Fridays still exists.

Orthodox Church

The Orthodox Church demands a stricter fast from its believers. There are four multi-week fasts in the church year: seven weeks in Passion, the Apostle fast one week after Pentecost, the Koimesis fast in August and the Advent fast from mid-November to December 24th.

There is also fast every Wednesday and Friday. Meat, eggs and dairy products are prohibited on all fasting days, and fish, wine and oil are also prohibited on strict fasting days. Fasting is associated with intense prayer.