The kind of fast that lasts

May you too be inspired to come up with your own list, so that come Easter, you will not only be indulging in temporal delights, but new and life-giving truths that are meant to last forever

Mar 24, 2023

  Word Made Fresh Nicholas Lye

In my many years as a Catholic, I have tried to fast from many different things such as meat, coffee, sweets, or social media, particularly in the season of Lent. While I do acknowledge some fruits from these practices such as growing in self-control and perseverance, or growing in my awareness of God’s presence in my life, I have found that, as soon as Lent is over, it is easy to quickly revert to indulging (or even over-indulging) in these things again, giving myself the excuse to celebrate Easter with these temporal delights.
This Lent, I was inspired to move away from external and material practices of fasting, and consider a kind of fast that is not only reserved for Lent or Fridays, but the kind that is meant to last forever.

“‘Only 40 days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least.” (Jonah 3:4-5)

What first struck me when I came across this Scripture passage, was how the people of Nineveh fasted, not so much to gain bragging rights or check off a Lenten practice, but to prevent destruction upon themselves. When I was led to reflect on what was really destroying me of late, I realised they were the many internal lies and scripts that have been wearing me down and taking my life away.

As a single lay missionary who depends on God to provide for me and send me opportunities to carry out His work, it is often so easy to compare my life with others, especially when little seems to be going on in my life right now, while others seem so much busier, and doing so much more, whether at home, in the corporate world, or even in the churches. This gradually causes me to think or believe that others were doing more or better than me, leaving me to often see myself as useless or lesser.

Yet what also struck me was how the people of Nineveh took time to stop whatever they were doing in order to fast and put on sackcloth. In the same light, God was inviting me to do the exact opposite of what I have been tempted to do, that instead of doing more, it was to do less, and make more space and time for me to acknowledge the unhealthy scripts and lies that I am invited to FAST from, in order that I may then FEAST on the deeper truths that He desires for me to live on and flourish from.

Eventually, upon reflecting and listening to His voice, this was the list that I came up with for Lent:

FAST: I need to do more.

FEAST: Less is more; being more than doing; I am precious, not useless.

FAST: I need to impact more numbers.

FEAST: Make every moment and interaction with every individual count.

FAST: Others are doing more / better than me.

FEAST: I am unique and unrepeatable, therefore incomparable; I am invited to live life my way, the way I was created to be.

FAST: I am driven by the many needs out there.

FEAST: I am led by the Spirit within, even if it means entering the wilderness to care for my needs first.

FAST: I am driven by the expectations of others.

FEAST: I am led by the Lord; I do whatever He tells me.

FAST: I am not doing enough work out there.

FEAST: Inner work is real work; Being present to myself and being a present to others as my better self is great work.

FAST: I have given up everything for nothing.

FEAST: I have given up everything for Him who gives me everything I need.

FAST: I do not know where I am going in life.

FEAST: God knows where I can best thrive and He is taking me there at the right pace.

FAST: Nobody sees me or values me.

FEAST: God sees and values me, and so do those who are of value to me.

FAST: I am wasting my time (doing nothing).

FEAST: Wasting time with people I love (including God and myself) is valuable time; Connection with God, self and others is more important than productivity and visible results.

Looking at this list, I know that these are the lies that I wish to fast from for life, not only for this Lenten season. But I have also come to realise that such fasting can feel very uncomfortable, like wearing ‘sackcloth’, because I have become so used to, and comfortable with them such that putting on the new truths can feel like putting on something foreign to me. Still, I believe that these truths that God is feeding me and inviting me to feast on, not only fits me better, they are also what sets me free to live life with greater joy and freedom.

May you too be inspired to come up with your own list, so that come Easter, you will not only be indulging in temporal delights, but new and life-giving truths that are meant to last forever

(Nicholas Lye loves exploring fresh and creative ways to connect with God in prayer. Check out his upcoming Lenten series of Prayer through Art workshops at

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