As I'm sure some of you know, we are in the "season of Lent". The 40 day fast before Easter (read Matthew 4). Now we Westerners have it easy, we have made Sundays off-days, we eat meat, and basically do whatever we want just saying we'll give up one thing. Look back a century. They gave up all things derived from the flesh (i.e. eggs, cheese, milk, meat...) and ate one meal a day; but farmers were looking a bit dazed and confused a few days in so fish was added on Fridays and meat later on. And they still stuck to it! I want to encourage you to do the same. Deny yourself something and really stick to it.
We don't feel the need to give up anything. Why fast and pray? Because when you are in want is when you start asking. Talk to God. Lent (the intro to Srping) is our ersatz fast. We're so Blessed that we have to put ourselves in this situation of giving up. It is a good reminder to look to Christ. Give something up that you want every day, and when you want that thing think of someone you can pray for instead. Ask God for strength, and substitute prayer for this earthly desire. Take this time (a mere 40 days) to reflect on what Jesus has done for you and why you need to do for others. This is a small comparison in my mind when you think of what God has given us. We have the Resurrection to look forward to!
Although the practices may have evolved over the centuries, the focus remains the same: to repent of sin, to renew our faith and to prepare to celebrate joyfully the mysteries of our salvation.
Here's a good quote for ya:
"If you gave something up for the Lord, tough it out. Don't act like a Pharisee looking for a loophole."
"You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve." Matthew 4:10