This is the instructive fast, it teaches the athlete the ways of the contest.As Christ rejoiced in his own fast... There's no forced grins or smiles here for St. Ephrem. Joining in Christ's Fast is truly life-giving.
Draw near to it, study, learn to struggle shrewdly.
Behold he instructed us to fast with our mouths and hearts,
Let us not fast from bread and think thoughts
In which the hidden poison of death is hidden.
Let us confess on the fast day the First Born
Who gave us the word of life to meditate on.
Let the scriptures be for us like a mirror, let us see in them our fast
For the Bible discriminates between fasts and prayer.
It chooses one type of fast and rejects another
Some fasters appease God and others anger him.
There is a prayer which is sinful, and another which is the medicine of life
O Lord let us rejoice in our fast
As he rejoiced, my brothers, in his own fast.
--St. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Fasting