by Steven Habisohn, e5 Founder

Fasting is often difficult not only because of our own weaknesses but because in God's wisdom He allows it to be harder for some than for others. Sometimes Satan himself desires to discourage us and will put barriers in our way. This is especially true the first few times. It doesn't take much to throw us off, especially if we live hectic lives.

Here are a few ideas that might help with your fasting if you are having difficulty.

Having a specific intention is important

We are meant to love others so when we fast only for ourselves it just doesn't seem to be as easy to do. As men we are made to lay down our lives for our brides - fasting taps into this part of our masculine hearts.

Prepare the night before with some prayer time

I find that waking up in the morning having not made a firm commitment the night before makes a fast more difficult.

Pray for the one you are fasting for during the fast

Short prayers during the day are especially helpful. You might find spiritual road blocks throughout the day will turn into simple road bumps with the recitation of the Lord's prayer for your intention.

Call an e5 buddy and ask him how it's going

I have one e5 friend who loves to leave voice messages joking about steak dinners and rolls dripping in butter. It sure makes it a lot easier to do the heavy lifting knowing you're not alone. 

Start fasting once a week instead of only once a month

Although not so obvious, this sometimes can make it easier. Perhaps you could fast every Wednesday for lent and see how it works. Check out e5 Special Forces.

Start a consistent meditative prayer life if you haven't already

When you fast you are ridding yourself of the joys of the flesh for a day and it reveals the emptiness in your heart that wants to be filled. Instead of filling it with food, fill it with Christ's love. However, if you are not in the habit of praying often, it could be a very painful mental and emotional experience to fast . You may only feel the emptiness and suffering which used to be filled with the simple joys of food. This experience certainly gives new meaning to the phrase "comfort food." Fasting is a challenge to make God your comfort but if you do not have a developed prayer life you will certainly notice the emptiness when you are fasting.

Change the start and end time of the fast

An easier way to do the 24 hour fast (slightly modified) is to go from dinner time one day to about dinner time the next. For instance start after dinner on Tuesday and end right before dinner on Wednesday. I use this schedule when there is a social engagement where I should eat. It's a nice variation to have ready, especially for those that are fasting every week. There are quite a few e5 Men always do it this way because they need and/or want to eat with their families. Often it is a way to keep the fasting more private from family members.

Have minor fasts throughout the month

Perhaps choose to fast at least from one meal every Friday, in honor of our Lord's sacrifice, between first Wednesdays to keep up the fasting mentality.

Modify and ramp up to the 24 hours

If you can't seem to fast for the 24 hour minimum, set out to have some type of fast at least once a week and over time slowly build to fasting for the whole 24 hours. Take as long as you need.

Attend an evening of devotion

Attend an evening of devotion like a prayer meeting, bibles study, mass, rosary group on your fast day. You will be particularly receptive to what the Lord wants to give you at those times and your satisfaction from the day of fasting will be increased.

Ask in prayer specifically for the grace to accomplish the fast

Any good work is only accomplished through the goodness of God living and working through us anyway. Ask for more of it. Ask especially when you feel particularly weak in your ability to accomplish the fast.

Be as gentle on yourself as Jesus is

Remember that God gives us the gift to make the gift. Be patient with yourself. He makes it harder for some than others according to his will. One fast for you may be as important as five for another. 

Remember to eat bread and drink water

Often one might forget sufficient water on a fast day. Also some might get into the legitimate habit of not eating anything; then on a particularly difficult day they forget that they can eat some bread. The e5 fast is not about radical physical suffering; it's about taming the sensual passions for the sake of another. Being tired and aching is not necessarily the point. The point is to take away the pleasure that food brings to cooperate with God in ordering our bodily passions towards love of another and not self love. 

Live a less hectic life

Often the chaos of the day takes a lot out of us and we don't even realize it. Fasting can be a real battle sometimes, and for some every time. The chaos in our life is often a factor in not being able to do the mental work it takes to follow through on a fast. A simpler life in general but specifically on the day of the fast will help greatly.

Hope these help.