Fr. Sanctus Mario
Inspiration and Bible Reflections

The Fasting that Pleases God: Reflection Friday After Ash Wednesday


Breakfast With the Word Friday After Ash Wednesday

Isaiah 58:1-9. Matthew 9:14-15


Fasting is a spiritual discipline in which one denies himself/herself some pleasures to draw close to God. We also fast when we voluntarily reduce our intake of food for a certain period to achieve a particular spiritual purpose or any other particular intention.

Many fast from food and water as a way of showing how sorry they feel for the sins they have committed. Others commit to fasting as a way of tapping a favour from God.


Whichever way we see fasting, the truth is that fasting has a spiritual undertone and almost practiced in every religion.

Today, many see this spiritual discipline as a way of pressuring God to answer their prayer and do their request. Many fast for the sake of ceremonial purposes.


They fast because during lent we need to fast. While some fast because they saw others fasting. True fasting is not anyway among these. What then is the true fast that pleases God?


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The True Fast.


In the first reading of today’s Isaiah 58:1-9, God is asking the Israelites the essence of their fasting but yet they are oppressing the poor. They fast but yet they are quarreling and bringing squabbles among themselves.


What is the essence of their fasting while many are seriously committing evil? What is the essence of their fasting when their hearts are very far away from God and they are oppressing and intimidating the poor among them?

According to Isaiah, the fasting that pleases God is the one that comes from the heart. The fasting that pleases God is when we stop injustice and discrimination among ourselves.


It is the fasting from evil, immorality, oppression, wickedness, hatred, envy, jealousy, etc. The fasting that pleases God is not how gloomy our faces appear, but how much we desire to help the poor, downtrodden, sharing our bread with the hungry, giving shelter to the homeless, clothing the naked and helping those in need. When we do this, then our light will shine, our wounds will heal.


The first reading says that this is when we can then cry and the Lord will hear from us and his glory will go behind us in everything that we do.



What God desires.


In the gospel, John’s disciples came to Jesus to ask Him the reason His disciples do not fast while the Pharisees fast. Jesus answers them that as long as the bridegroom is still with them, then there is no need for the wedding attendants to begin to mourn. But when the bridegroom is taken from them, they can then fast. Here, Jesus refers to Himself as the bridegroom and the disciples as His wedding attendants.



Jesus is not against fasting. He once taught His disciples how to fast in Matthew 6:6-18. The truth here is that the Pharisees fast as a way they are preparing and longing for the coming of the Messiah, ask special favour from God and atone for their sins.


What Jesus is trying to say is that the reason they are fasting is already with them. Jesus is the messiah, He atones for our sins and through Him, we receive special favour from God. So, to fast when He is already with the apostles looks absurd.

Therefore, instead of fasting and awaiting for the messiah, they have to know that the Messiah is already there with them. So, there is no need for fasting since the reason they fast is already with them.

What the messiah then demands is not more fasting but to be close to Him and accept His message of the Kingdom of God. Then by it, they will be saved.

Therefore, what the messiah demands more now is to be close to Him. There is no need fasting when He is now with them.

So, closeness with the Lord is what God desires from them now, rather than keeping a  ceremonial fast.


In essence, God demands us to be more close to Him more and accept Him wholeheartedly rather than keeping a ceremonial fast like the Pharisees.


Therefore, our Lenten fast must be accompanied with total repentance from sin and willingness to be close to God.



During the Lenten season, many people go into fasting because they see others fasting. Some people see it as a way to fasten God’s heart and draw His mercy upon us.


Fasting is good for our spiritual growth. Jesus fasted (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13), the apostles fasted (Acts 13:2; 14:23; 1 Cor 7:5, Acts 27:9). So, there is nothing wrong when we fast. But the fasting that God desires is not the ceremonial keeping of the law as the Pharisees do, yet their hearts are very far away from God.

The fasting that God demands is the fasting that is accompanied with total repentance.


The Pharisees fast for the Messiah and yet they could not recognize the Messiah when He came.

So, the true fast is not trying to fast because we see others fasting, or fasting because Lent demands that we fast. We do not fast in order to force God to do something.


Some people do complain “I fasted and yet nothing happened”. God is not a machine that we can drive Him anyhow we want. We fast so that our spiritual life will grow. Also, We fast to increase our relationship with Him. We do not fast to move Him left or around. God does things the way He wants.

He needs more of our closeness. What God desires more is for us to turn from our evil ways and be close to Him.


It is through this perfect relationship that one can gain favour from the Lord. The fasting that pleases God hence is the one that can draw us more close to Him. It is fasting from faithlessness, weakness, doubts, and every form of evil.


The fasting that God needs is those good acts that will certainly draw us close to Him. He needs to be closer to us. True fasting is not  avoiding food and appearing gloomy because others are doing so.

True fasting is when you fast from those things that do not give God glory in your life. Remember the Pharisees also fast but Jesus still calls them hypocrites.

What is that thing in your life that cripples the spirit in you? Fast from it. What are those things that you do always and which anger the heart of the Father? Fast from them.


Fast from wickedness, jealousy, backbiting, quarrelling, hatred, intimidation, fast from immoral behaviours, fast from lukewarmness, fast from prayerlessness, fast from mechanical spirituality etc.



The sacrifices to God are nothing but a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Don’t call your bodily sacrifice alone a fast; you may fast but your heart is very far from God.


Isaiah 58:6 says “Is not this the fast that I choose from you: that you loose every chain and bonds of wickedness, to allow the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke among you?”.

True fast is to loose the bonds of wickedness, immorality, pornography, spirit of abortion, hatred, fornication, prayerlessness, hypocrisy,  family quarrels and dissensions. It is a call to be free from the bondage of sin.


True fast is repentance from those things that anger the heart of the Father. True fast is what makes God happy. God rewards it.


I pray that God in His infinite mercy forgives us today, and help us fast from those things that keep us far from Him. Amen. God bless you.


  1. Otokpa Elijah says


  2. Stella Ekwemalor says


    1. Okwuchi Juliet says

      Amen.God I need your Grace this season and always especially in the area of forgiveness.

  3. Eze, Blessing Chinasa says

    Amen. God, please give me your grace to have total repentance from my sins. May you always draw me closer to yourself.

  4. Mailoushi James says

    Amen, remain blessed to the glory of God’s name Fr.

  5. Chinyere Ezemelue says

    Lord teach me and lead me by your spirit to do only the things that please you. Amen

  6. Chioma Frances Egwuogu says


  7. Onyekonwu Ngozi says

    Amen! Lord please continue to empower me with your grace.

  8. Angela Madu says

    God bless you too Padre

    1. Obinna says

      Bless you too Padre.. Thank you

    2. Dorothy Mary Iyinbor says

      Amen thanks Padre God bless you

  9. Munachimso onuoha says


  10. Kubiat says


  11. Nonye Maduka says


  12. Ogwa Oluchi Rose says


    1. Helen says

      That we will always seek You and be close to You Lord against all odds 🙏🙏🙏🙏

      Thank you Padre. More grace!

  13. Mercy E Johnny says

    Amen, glory be to the father, to the son n to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world with out end. Amen. More grace for you Padre

  14. Blessing Anne says


  15. Nancy chizoba says

    God bless you too fr. Thanks for this great piece.

  16. Onuora Judith says


  17. Chisom Egwudike says




  19. Mrs Blessing Chilo says

    Help me oh Lord to fast perpetually from anything in my life that doesn’t give you glory through Christ our Lord Amen

  20. Ekwem Emmanuela Chiamaka says

    Amen and Amen. God bless you too fr 🙏

  21. Ifeoma Ugwueze says


  22. Regina Mobu says

    Amen! Thank you father for the encouragement.

  23. Ada Ndubuisi says

    So help me God. Amen.

  24. Gabriel-Martin says

    Amen Fr

  25. Ezeagu Anuli says

    Amen 🙏 🙏 God bless you too Father

  26. Adeline Chidimma says

    Amen and Amen. God I need your Grace and mercy now and forever.

  27. Peter Anthony Dodoh says

    My body is your sanctuary Lord. Purify me like gold, so that I might be bold to say my body is your sanctuary. Amen


    Amen to all ur blessings n prayers to us…N through the intersession of our mother of perpetual help.. help us during this journey of Lent. Amen

  29. Anthonia Okonkwo says


  30. Mbama Christiana says

    Amen. Thank you Padre, I pray for the grace to get closer to God day by day.

  31. Chinwe Agwoile says

    Today, I am reminded byJesus that fasting is not an end in itself but that it is meant to help me go beyond this world to the ultimate in life. It should help me to yearn for salvation. I am equally reminded of the need for, and the nature of fasting. Why and How I observe the Lenten fast matter a lot.
    My dear Lord, help me to fast from things that give me pleasure, and to avoid my many vices. Let me feast on virtues and take delight in self-denial and self-mortification. Help me to use the Lenten season wisely so that I can grow spiritually. Amen! Thanks for your thoughtfulness, Padre!🙏🙏🙏👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

  32. Uchenna Obeta says


  33. Ibeawuchi Monica says


  34. Carmela U. Ekwem says

    Amen! & Amen! Thanks & God bless you Fr..
    May God grant us the grace to abstain from those things that don’t give him glory. May he also give us the grace to fast in a way he requires us to fast, and not like the Pharisees do, Amen!

  35. Rosemary Umeze says


  36. Amara Beluonwu says


  37. CHARLES EZEJI says


  38. Michael Jones says


  39. Mrs Nora Nkoli Anabiri says

    Amennnnnnn. Thanks Padre

  40. Enibe Jacinta Amara says


  41. Christian says

    Amen 🙏 thank u father for the love which u always bestowed in us may the almighty God always see u through and grant all ur hearts desires amen

  42. Ighekpe Agbodesi Winifred says


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