Praying and Fasting in Christianity
Praying and fasting are fundamental aspects of Christianity. Fasting is a tradition that has been practiced since ancient times, and the purpose remains the same today: to restrict one’s intake of food and water as a form of voluntary penitence, surrendering to the will of God. For many, fasting also serves to draw closer to God, to seek help and guidance. In Christianity, fasting can also be used as an opportunity to be mindful of God’s love and blessings. Studies have linked religious practice with decreased rates of depression, better mental health and lower stress levels.
In Christianity, certain types of fasting are recommended. These include fasting from food, drink, desires, worldly pleasures and good deeds – different guidelines apply to each one. In some churches, fasting may involve abstaining from food and water for a specific period, such as a day or a week. In others, it may be more of a self-imposed course of action or attitude, such as participating in a spiritual practice like prayer or a bible study for a certain amount of time. Each church may have a different approach.
Kissing During Fasting
At the heart of the matter of fasting is the idea of discipline and restraint. Kissing is seen as an expression of love and affection and is therefore subject to the same consideration. In the Bible, the Song of Solomon communicates a general sense of discretion when it comes to physical affection during a time of fasting, advising the beloved to embrace the season of fasting “for the days of life are many”. In other words, it can be contended that physical affection should be reserved for the moment when it will be done in honour of God.
The subject of kissing during fasting has been much debated. There is a general consensus that it is preferable to avoid physical contact beyond a gentle hug during a time of physical self-denial, as it can be seen to distract from prayer and devotion. A few Pastors have considered the matter in specificity, and contend that any physical contact such as passionate kissing should be avoided during a time of fasting. However, the degree to which contact is acceptable is a subject of dispute, and it seems that the opinion of each church must be taken into account.
Advantages of Abstinence
The essence of arguably any spiritual practice should be converting the heart. Fasting can be a powerful way to focus on achieving spiritual states rather than desiring physical pleasures. Abstinence from kisses would not be seen as a denial of love, but as a way to redirect passion into discipline and prayer. This can result in a stronger bond in a relationship as a couple may find a renewed sense of purpose and closer connection.
Not only can fasting help the couple, but it can also be a powerful way to draw closer to God. Studies have suggested that people may be more likely to turn to religion during times of stress and times of self-denial, so embracing a period of fasting can help to find solace through prayer. This could ultimately bring a more powerful sense of joy and peace when taking on the ‘Marriage of Love to Christ’ as F. Rookmaaker states in his book, “The Art of Marriage”.
Exceptions to the Rule
It is important to remember that there are exceptions to any rule and that couples should assess their own situation when considering the physical boundary they wish to set during times of fasting. Certain circumstances can be seen to be an exception to the rule and couples should apply wisdom when in such situations – that is, are any exceptions taken due to selfishness or other desires?
One such exception may be when couples are recently married or in a long-term relationship. Romantic physical contact is a means of connecting to one another and there can be exceptions taken when the intention is pure. Therefore, the decision rests with the couple using discernment and their personal values to assess how much physical contact is appropriate for a due occasion.
Faith & Perspective
Ultimately, it is important to consider that fasting is not just a physical act but so much more. It is deeply intertwined with faith and perspective on life. Couples should be encouraged to discuss their beliefs and respective denominations when considering the literality of tithing, prayer and fasting, to find the balance between self-control while still finding fulfilment in their relationship.
Ultimately, many churches have specific guidelines when it comes to fasting and abstention, and couples should be mindful of these. It is also important to remember that this is an individual decision and couples should assess their own situation. While embracing a period of physical self-denial by kissing, it is important to remember the spirit of self-control and discipline that should be embodied in such practices.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
In recent times, “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) has become a prominent issue for couples around the world. Due to the advances in technology, the pressure to keep up an active life and the ability to manage relationships from afar, couples can both feel the emotional and psychological impact from a physical distance. This can be especially true when observing times of physical self-denial.
In this situation, couples should be careful to manage expectations, as it is natural to feel anxious when not sharing moments of physical contact. Through understanding and communication, couples can work out which moments should be shared in person, even during a time of fasting. Praying together and spiritually connecting can be beneficial and a powerful source of comfort.
Key Points to Consider
Physical contact can be a powerful way to express love, so couples should be wise when considering kiss or other forms of physical expression when observing a time of fasting. Abstinence can be both an opportunity to draw closer to God and grow in the intimate relationship with a partner. Generally, it is recommended to observe caution when considering physical contact, however, each church may have different guidelines.
It is best to assess the situation with clear eyes and a spirit of kindness. This should be done with wisdom and discernment, to ensure that any exceptions taken are done with love. Ultimately, couples should pray together, focus on their spiritual connection and love each other with warmth, grace and care – even during a time of fasting.
Fasting Doesn’t Have to Mean Separation
It is important to remember that abstention does not necessarily mean a lack of connection. Praying together can be a form of spiritual intimacy and can be a powerful way to unite a relationship. Communicating openly and frequently is also key to understanding and respect for one another’s feelings. A couple should be encouraged to engage in activities that create positive, wholesome memories and moments, even if physical contact cannot be shared.
This can range from spending time outdoors, watching a movie, learning a skill or hobby together, or participating in spiritual initiatives. These are all excellent ways to continue to build a strong relationship during moments of physical self-denial. Couples can also support each other during the fasting process, such as communicating regularly and celebrating each other’s successes and growth outcomes.
Promoting Self-Love and Respect
It is important to remember that physical contact between couples should never be seen as an obligation or something to strive for during times of fasting. Both individuals should be encouraged to show unconditional love and respect for one another, such that moments of physical contact should be seen as something special, rather than expected. In this way too, Fasting becomes an opportunity to stress less and to focus more on celebrating the spiritual and personal connection.
To summarise, couples should discuss their beliefs and practices concerning kissing or other physical contact during times of fasting. Couples should be mindful of what is appropriate for their individual beliefs and circumstances, always erring on the side of caution. Praying together can be a powerful way to honour the spiritual aspect of fasting, and engaging in positive activities is a great way to stay connected in a healthy way.
Learning to Listen and Celebrate Together
In a recent article, Dr. David Walsh states that “social media keeps us in an ever-widening space of distractions” and reminds us to focus on being genuinely interested in one another by listening and celebrating every success, every day. Listening to your partner’s views and thoughts during a time of fasting can be a powerful way to show love and respect, and to keep the conversation open. This can also help to reduce any competitive emotions that can arise, due to partners finding different ways of expressing their faith.
The importance of communication is key for any healthy relationship, whether physical contact is shared or not. The idea of applying self-control and patience when managing expectations can be appreciated when couples feel their relationship is under strain. Utilising a positive mindset and focusing on life’s blessings can help to keep hope alive, and bring joy during a time of fasting.
Following the Guidelines of Respect
It is important to remember that toleration and respect for one another’s beliefs are key. There is no single interpretation of the Bible, and couples should be mindful of the beliefs and practices of their church. Couples should remember that it is their choice to participate in activities of their faith, and to respect one another’s decisions. Embracing the fundamentals of love and respect can be seen in all aspects of life, especially during a time of fasting.
Ultimately, times of fasting can be an opportunity to draw closer to God and to grow in partnership. Couples should be mindful of the boundaries they wish to set, guided by their beliefs and practices, while ensuring that their decisions are based on moral values and respect. Kissing or other forms of physical contact can be seen as good intentioned, and should be taken as an opportunity to continue to build on the spiritual and emotional connection between two partners.