One of the typical practices during Lent is fasting. Fasting is meant to mirror the practice of Jesus, who fasted 40 days in the desert in preparation for his public ministry.
Fasting during Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter) is meant to help us draw closer to Jesus and prepare our hearts and spirits to remember His death and resurrection. And we can help guide the families we serve through this season of fasting and prayer by intentionally teaching them (and their kids) about the spiritual discipline of fasting.
I know what you’re thinking – should kids fast? Valid question. We would discourage kids and teens from fasting meals – for health reasons, and also because of their maturity. (And we discuss the answer to “should kids fast” in more detail here.)
However, people of any age (kids included!) can understand that fasting is about sacrificing something we love/enjoy to focus on God. While your families fast during Lent, here are some ideas for things kids can fast from:
- Screen time on their tablet or phone
- TV, video games, or movies
- Their favorite food, snack, or drink (not water!)
- Arguing and complaining (All the adults said AMEN!)
- Social media (For preteens/teens)
- A game or toy
You can also encourage families to choose if they will fast from their item for a certain time frame (eg. an hour a day), a full week, a day during the week (eg. “Every Monday during Lent, we’ll stay away from TV!”), or for the whole 40 days!
Equip parents to help kids understand that:
- Fasting is not a punishment! We don’t fast because we are in trouble, or because God is “mad at us.”
- Fasting isn’t for a reward. We don’t fast to get a prize, reward, or treat.
- Fasting is meant to help us focus on God and remember that He is the most important thing – He is all we need!
- When we fast, we are meant to fill up the empty time or space with something that helps us focus on God and our relationship with Him. For example, if kids are fasting from screen time, consider taking that 20 minutes to read a Bible story and pray together instead!
The point of fasting is not just to “give up.” It is not about self-discipline, willpower, or control. It is about focusing on God as all we need and intentionally spending more time with Him!
Communicate these important factors with kids and parents to help them understand the spiritual discipline of fasting and to invite them to participate in a practice that Jesus used to help Him focus His time and His heart on God.