Glory to God for All Things

Fasting – Prayers by the Lake – XLI

imagesBy St. Nikolai Velimirovich

XLI

With fasting I gladden my hope in You, my Lord, Who are to come again.

Fasting hastens my preparation for Your coming, the sole expectation of my days and nights.

Fasting makes my body thinner, so that what remains can more easily shine with the spirit.

While waiting for You, I wish neither to nourish myself with blood nor to take life–so that the animals may sense the joy of my expectation.

But truly, abstaining from food will not save me. Even if I were to eat only the sand from the lake, You would not come to me, unless the fasting penetrated deeper into my soul.

I have come to know through my prayer, that bodily fasting is more a symbol of true fasting, very beneficial for someone who has only just begun to hope in You, and nevertheless very difficult for someone who merely practices it.

Therefore I have brought fasting into my soul to purge her of many impudent fiancé’s and to prepare her for You like a virgin.

And I have brought fasting into my mind, to expel from it all daydreams about worldly matters and to demolish all the air castles, fabricated from those daydreams. 

I have brought fasting into my mind, so that it might jettison the world and prepare to receive Your Wisdom.

And I have brought fasting into my heart, so that by means of it my heart might quell all passions and worldly selfishness.

I have brought fasting into my heart, so that heavenly peace might ineffably reign over my heart, when Your stormy Spirit encounters it.

I prescribe fasting for my tongue, to break itself of the habit of idle chatter and to speak reservedly only those words that clear the way for You to come.

And I have imposed fasting on my worries so that it may blow them all away before itself like the wind that blows away the mist, lest they stand like dense fog between me and You, and lest they turn my gaze back to the world.

And fasting has brought into my soul tranquility in the face of uncreated and created realms, and humility towards men and creatures. And it has instilled in me courage, the likes of which I never knew when I was armed with every sort of worldly weapon. 

What was my hope before I began to fast except merely another story told by others, which passed from mouth to mouth?

The story told by others about salvation through prayer and fasting became my own.

False fasting accompanies false hope, just as no fasting accompanies hopelessness.

But just as a wheel follows behind a wheel, so true fasting follows true hope.

Help me to fast joyfully and to hope joyously, for You, my Most Joyful Feast, are drawing near to me with Your radiant smile.

 

16 Responses to “Fasting – Prayers by the Lake – XLI”

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  1. coffeezombie says:

    Father Stephen, I must confess, I usually don’t read the “Prayers by the Lake” posts. I’m not sure why. I probably just don’t find them as “entertaining” as the other posts on here (that’s not to denigrate your other posts! this blog has been a great help to me in my baby-steps in Orthodoxy!), or something.

    I think it would be good (if I can remember to do so) for me to read this particular post regularly throughout Lent. Thank you for posting this!

  2. tiffanib says:

    What a gift are these prayers during Lent. Thank you for them, Father.

    Bless You

  3. Deb Seeger says:

    Thank you for this, I so appreciate your encouraging words. I am weak at fasting, nowadays. I used to be so disciplined and faithful but the cares of the world press hard and distract me from what I really want to do… become closer to Christ through more cleansing both body and soul.

  4. Agreed – fasting is so…misunderstood. It gets so much more purpose when it’s from a stance of allowing God to do his work, encouraging us to exercise our self-control, rather than always getting our own way.

    It is – for better and for worse – inevitable that our control over small things dictates our control over bigger things…

  5. Zoe says:

    “Help me to fast joyfully and to hope joyously, for you, my most Joyful Feast, are drawing near to me with your radiant smile”. Uplifting prayer.

    Thank you, Fr. Stephen.

  6. Margaret says:

    Thank you, Fr. Stephen!

  7. MaryGail says:

    Most helpful, most inspiring. Excellent timing as always Fr. Stephen!

  8. Moses says:

    Very encouraging to focus on the internal more than the external!

  9. BJohnD says:

    Thank you for posting this, Father. I’m going to print it out and keep it around during Lent.

    (As an Orthodox Christian who also happens to be a vegetarian, I really liked this one! “While waiting for You, I wish neither to nourish myself with blood nor to take life–so that the animals may sense the joy of my expectation.”)

  10. BJohnD says:

    Oh, and I should add that, yes, I realize that Lent and vegetarianism are not the same, and that the Orthodox Church does not condemn the eating of meat nor advocate vegetarianism. ;-)

  11. William says:

    “Help me to fast joyfully and to hope joyously, for You, my Most Joyful Feast, are drawing near to me with Your radiant smile.”

    I love this. The Lord is our feast! He is our portion. It seems that one reason we fast is so we do not “spoil our appetite” for such a wonderful feast.

  12. Moses says:

    I like the way you put that William! =D

  13. Yudi Kris says:

    This is great! How wonderful is the gift of this prayer:

    “Help me to fast joyfully and to hope joyously, for You, my Most Joyful Feast, are drawing near to me with Your radiant smile.”

    Amen!

    Bless me, Father!

  14. Deb Seeger says:

    Help me to fast joyfully and to hope joyously, for You, my Most Joyful Feast, are drawing near to me with Your radiant smile.

    Wow I missed reading this the other night. This is much like being a cheerful giver. Thank you , Thank you , thank you.

  15. Denise Minnard Campoli says:

    I agree with William who wrote that we fast to “not spoil our appetite for the Most Joyful Feast”. Concentrating on the beauty of our Lord Jesus and waiting to hear His voice makes my heart sing!

    Thank you Fr. Stephen for your encouraging prayers during Lent. “With fasting I gladden my hope in You, my Lord, Who are to come again.”

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