Fr. Stephen

Fasting and Prayer

Fasting and Prayer

I began serving as a prison chaplain more than thirty years ago. That makes for a lot of Great Lents spent in prison.  One year, two men were about to participate in the fast for the first time since becoming Orthodox.  They were determined to keep the fast very strictly.  In that facility, their food was delivered to their cells on a tray.  There was no picking and choosing from a cafeteria line.  To fast strictly was a very difficult endeavor.  Both men told me separately that they were going to concentrate their fasting and prayers on something very personal.  One man had not had contact with his family in over 20 years.  The other had no family and was very lonely; he simply wanted someone on the outside with whom he could have contact. 

Midway through the Fast, the first man received a letter from his sister!  This was his first contact with her in over 20 years!  She had tracked him down and wrote to ask him if he would like to re-establish communication with her.  Soon after that, the second man received a letter from someone he didn’t even know.  They had gotten his name from someone else and wrote to ask him if he could use a pen pal.  Needless to say, those two men hold fasting in the highest regard and can’t wait to begin fasting each year.     

I mentioned the above stories to another Orthodox man in prison.  He thought for a moment and then began smiling from ear to ear.  He said, “Father, I am going to fast and pray that God will enable me to love Him as I should love Him and that He will place a love for others in my heart.  I have never been able to love the way I know God wants me to!” 

We are past the midway point of Great Lent, but it is not too late to commit or re-commit ourselves to fasting, prayer and almsgiving. May our Lord richly bless you this Great Lent and answer the prayers of your heart, according to His will. And please, remember in your prayers our brothers and sisters in prison.

Many thanks for your support of this ministry of the Orthodox Church.

With love in Christ,

Fr Stephen 

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