Thursday, April 27, 2017

fasting to break addictions

St Gregory the Great tells us about fasting today in A Year with the Church Fathers.

He says that we are called to fast in order to grow in our spiritual lives. Jesus teaches us this, too, both by example in the wilderness when He miraculously fasted for 40 days and nights... and by His words when He told His disciples that certain demonic influences can't be overcome except by prayer and fasting.

And we have demonic influences in our lives today, don't we? In recent polls, pornography has addicted more than 40% of men. And that's just those who admit to it. It's an epidemic that is causing problems in marriages around the world. It is causing men to be unable to function in healthy sexual relationships. And of course it is undermining the integrity of men's (and women's, to a lesser degree) spiritual lives the way that addictions to anything do. Stealing time, energy, money, and degrading the self esteem of everyone in the grip of this nasty and ubiquitous addiction.

But there is a way out. Jesus isn't powerless over addictions of any kind, and that includes porn. But just as He told us that we need to pray and fast in order to deal with demons of His time, so we need to pray and fast to deal with them today. And fasting is particularly effective in dealing with porn because they both have to do with pleasing our flesh. When we fast, we are taking control away from our bodies and, like Paul said, "beating" them into shape so that we can "run the race" of holiness that we're called to.

So if you or someone you love is dealing with porn addiction, fasting might be a good option. When combined with prayer, it is a very effective way to gain control of an area of life that can easily rage out of control.

God, thank You for giving us practical ways to deal with spiritual problems.