Good Friday & the Discipline of Lent
The Season of Lent, given to us for the preparation of our celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection, is a marvelous opportunity to take the next step forward in your spiritual life. The Book of Common Prayer designates the weekdays of Lent and Holy Week (except March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation), along with most Fridays of the year, as days of “special devotion” with “special acts of discipline and self-denial,” which would normally include fasting (BCP p. 17). Some form of fasting is one of the central ways that Christians have done this. Jesus began his ministry by fasting (Matthew 4:1–11) and teaches about it in the Sermon on the Mount, just after discussing repentance and forgiveness, saying, “When you fast…” (Matthew 6:16). Fasting can be either a whole or partial abstinence from food, and its purpose as a Christian discipline is always spiritual: to learn the most difficult spiritual truth, that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Good Friday is one of the two days of the Church Year—the other being Ash Wednesday—when all Christians who are physically able to do so are urged to engage in a total fast: abstaining from all food (solid or liquid, but not from water or medicine) during the day, eating only a simple, meatless meal sometime late in the day (after receiving Holy Communion, if possible).