by Fr Matta el Miskeen
(from Orthodox Prayer Life)
“And when you fast, do not look dismal.” (Mt 6.16)
“That your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret.” (Mt 6.18)
“Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.” (Jn 6.27)
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.” (Jn 4.34)
“Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger.” (Lk 6.25)
FASTING BY ITSELF IS NOT A VIRTUE. It is nothing at all. Without prayer, it becomes a bodily punishment that induces spiritual aridity and bad temper. The same is true of prayer; without fasting, it loses its power along with its fruits.
We may liken fasting to a burning coal and prayer to frankincense. Neither has value without the other, but together, the sweet saviour of their incense fills the air.
Fasting calms the impulses of the flesh and quenches...