A Progressive Fast

Lent has launched.

This past Wednesday (yesterday) was Ash Wednesday, and millions of Christians around the world have now begun a fast; not as a way to get God’s attention, but as a way for Him to get ours. Fasting serves to sharpen our focus and our attentiveness. It can quicken our spiritual sensitivity.

FastingBut this year, I’m planning something different…a progressive fast. I saw the idea recently (thanks Laura Anderson) and thought it sounded creative and helpful, perhaps especially for those of us who have engaged in Lent for many years and would find motivation in something fresh.

Here’s how it works. It’s ever so simple.

Start with something simple right now (e.g. Diet Coke; snacks; pre-work social media), then next week (or in two weeks) add something else, then the following week (or two weeks later still) add another item. By the time we get to Holy Week — the week before Easter — we’re at our full fast. I love the idea.

The “progressive fast” saves those of us who tend to start too big and find that we can’t go the seven-week distance. It lets us build up. You could “up the ante” every week (that would be ambitious), or just every other week, or just plan a single upgrade at the halfway point. Whatever suits you best. I’m opting for just two “escalations.”  🙂

Note that this is not a replacement plan, but an addition plan. In a progressive fast we don’t drop or exchange our first item of fasting; we add to it.

If you didn’t get started yesterday (Ash Wednesday), you could start tomorrow, no problem. There’s nothing magical about 40 days. Better to catch some of the fast than none of the fast. In fact, it might be a valuable part of the discipline (for perfectionists) to not get in all 40 days. That will stretch you.

If you like this idea and want to give it a shot, post “I’m in” in the comments. Perhaps we can compare notes and encourage each other as we face the transition points. Here’s a mantra for the season: Start simple; finish strong.

I’d love to hear your stories along the way of how you’re experiencing the Presence and work of Christ in your life.


Front Cover ImageBy the way, thanks to the many of you who have purchased copies of my Lenten devotional Reflections Through Romans. That’s very kind of you, and I hope you find it a helpful companion during this season.

If you’re just thinking about joining the Lenten community right now — we’ve only just begun — you can still get a copy of the 40-day guide here. Blessings.

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13 Responses to A Progressive Fast

  1. Janet says:

    Great idea David. I’m excited to see how others journey with this new concept.

  2. Tim Lentz (Lent—z) :) says:

    What an awesome idea!!! I love it!!! Thanks, Laura and David for sharing that!

    On another note, my son-in-law and I purchased your Lent book and are also using it to study and discuss!!! I always look forward to Lent and the Lenten fast!


  3. Judi says:

    I’m in. I love this idea. Working on a plan right now!

  4. Heide Costa says:

    I love this David!
    I can’t join this because of the Fast I’ve chosen, to do the progressive, but you’re right (at least for me! ) I’ve been wondering, what / how I will fast this year, I don’t want to do the same old things I’ve done year after year – I want to do something different. So this gives me some good time to plan for next year!
    I do look forward to join the discussion and comments about how Christ is moving in our life!
    God bless us all, and may we keep the hurting in prayer…

  5. Nonda Brown says:

    I’m in! Love this idea!

  6. Dave says:

    I’m in. Thanks for passing along the idea.

  7. chuckm49 says:

    David my long lost friend, Chuck Mihlbauer here. I’m in, and I hope and pray this form of fasting will bring more people into the presence of Christ. Doing well in a weekly prison ministry that runs weekly. Mitzi and I both have a wonderful opportunity to really bring Christ into a foreign place to us. This is a calling that took me years to finally realize until God guided me to a couple of weekend events. Retired from Eastside and have found a home in another local church. When you come down south, I truly hope we can get together. It has been a long time. Blessings.

    • David Timms says:

      Chuck, how lovely to hear from you. So pleased to get that update about you and Mitzi and the ministry. It would be delightful to catch up if we can ever pull it off. Blessings to you both!

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