Fasting: Other Sacrifices to Give Up Besides Food

Take a Break to Focus on God

Illuminated Cross
There are several ways to observe fasting without sacrificing food and drink. Christopher Algar / Getty Images

Fasting is a traditional aspect of Christianity. Traditionally, fasting refers to abstaining from food or drink during a period of spiritual growth to become closer to God. It is sometimes also an act of penance for past sins. Christianity calls for fasting during certain holy times, though you can fast at any time as part of your spiritual observance.

Fasting as a Teenager

As a Christian teen, you may feel a call to fast. Many Christians try to emulate Jesus and others in the Bible who fasted when faced with important decisions or tasks. However, not all teenagers can give up food, and that's okay. As a teenager, your body is changing and developing rapidly. You need regular calories and nutrition to be healthy. Fasting is not worthwhile if it costs you your health, and is in fact discouraged.

Before beginning a fast of food, talk to your doctor. He or she may advise you to fast for only a short period or will tell you that fasting is not a good idea. In that case, abandon a food fast and consider other ideas.

But just because you cannot give up food does not mean you can't participate in the fasting experience. It is not necessarily what item you give up, but more about what that item means to you and how it reminds you to stay focused on the Lord. For example, it might be a bigger sacrifice to you to give up a favorite video game or television show, rather than food.

Choosing What to Fast

When choosing something to fast, it's important that it is meaningful to you. Many people "cheat" by choosing something that wouldn't ordinarily be missed. But choosing what to fast is an important decision that shapes your experience and connection with Jesus. You should miss its presence in your life, and the lack of it should remind you of your purpose and connection to God. 

If something on this list doesn't fit for you, then do some searching to find something you can give up that is challenging to you. It can be anything that is important to you, such as watching a favorite sport, reading or any other hobby you enjoy. It should be something that is a part of your regular life and that you enjoy. 

Here are some alternative items you can fast besides what you eat:

Television

One of your favorite weekend activities may be binging on whole seasons of shows, or you may enjoy watching your favorite shows throughout the week. However, sometimes TV can be a distraction, and you can become so focused on your programs that you neglect other areas of your life, such as your faith. If you find television to be a challenge for you, then giving up watching television for a certain period of time can be a meaningful shift.

Video Games

Like television, video games can be a great thing to fast. It may seem easy to many, but think about how many times each week you pick up that game controller. You may spend hours in front of the television or computer with a favorite game. By giving up playing games, you can instead focus that time on God.

Weekends Out

If you are a social butterfly, then maybe fasting one or both of your weekend nights out may be more of a sacrifice. You can spend that time in study and prayer, focusing on doing God's will or getting the direction you need from Him. Additionally, you will save money by staying in, which you can then donate to the church or a charity of your choice, making your sacrifice even more meaningful by helping others.

Cell Phone

Texting and talking on the phone are big deals to many teens. Fasting your time on the cell phone or giving up text messaging may be a challenge, but every time you think about texting someone, you'll definitely remind yourself to focus on God.

Social Media

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, and Instagram are a major part of daily life for millions of teens. Most check into sites several times a day. By banning these sites for yourself, you can get back time to devote to your faith and your connection to God.

The Lunch Hour

You don't have to give up food in order to fast your lunch hour. Why not take your lunch away from the crowd and spend some time in prayer or reflection? If you have the opportunity to go off campus for lunch or have quiet places you can go, taking some lunches away from the group can keep you focused.

Secular Music

Not every Christian teen listens only to Christian music. If you love mainstream music, then try turning the radio station to strictly Christian music or turning it off completely and spend the time talking to God. By having silence or soothing music to help you focus your thoughts, you may find you have a more meaningful connection to your faith.

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Mahoney, Kelli. "Fasting: Other Sacrifices to Give Up Besides Food." ThoughtCo, Nov. 13, 2017, thoughtco.com/alternatives-for-fasting-besides-food-712503. Mahoney, Kelli. (2017, November 13). Fasting: Other Sacrifices to Give Up Besides Food. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/alternatives-for-fasting-besides-food-712503 Mahoney, Kelli. "Fasting: Other Sacrifices to Give Up Besides Food." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/alternatives-for-fasting-besides-food-712503 (accessed January 21, 2018).