Fasting, a tradition in many religions since their beginnings, is usually practiced in order to show repentance and honor God for a certain number of days. Many Christian religions start fasting during Lent, a period of 40 days devoted to worship, prayer, abstinence, penitence and fasting. Fasting during Lent typically consists of giving up meat on Wednesdays and Fridays, using those days to concentrate on spirituality.
Catholics practice Lent, which lasts for 40 days and includes giving up meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Although the observance of Lent has been around since the beginning of Catholicism, it has been modified in recent years to include abstinence from food on Ash Wednesday, but only meat abstinence on Good Friday.
The Methodist religion has practiced fasting since its beginnings by not only giving up meat, but also giving up all food in order to spend time praising God during Lent. According to John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, fasting was a means to express sorrow for overindulging in food and drink. However, Lent is optional for Methodists and there are no specific rules that Methodists practice.
Similar to Catholics, Lutherans observe Lent for 40 days starting on Ash Wednesday. During Lent, Lutherans are encouraged to eat only one meal on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday, abstaining from meat by substituting fish.
Episcopalians also practice Lent for 40 days starting on Ash Wednesday. Fasting for Episcopalians consists of abstinence from all food on Ash Wednesday until sundown, and until 3 p.m. on Good Friday, in observance of the time of the Lord's death. Although fasting is optional, the Episcopal religion encourages some form of abstinence in order to practice self-discipline and show repentance.
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