The Reverend Dr Jonathan Pritchard, priest at St Barnabas and All Saints has written this explanation of Christian fasting on behalf of Churches Together in Keighley.

Fasting? What about fasting? What do you think? Could you? Do you?

All the world's major religions fast. Give up food for a set period. And pray. Christians fast in Lent. Muslims fast in Ramadan. There are many different ways to fast. There are many different ways that Christians fast.

How do Christians fast?

During Lent: The 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter - the traditional fast is to give up meat and dairy products. Give the cows and chickens a holiday, go vegetarian for Lent! Some Christians choose to give up something they are too attached to, like alcohol. Think about what you might give up for Lent.

No Meat on Fridays: Or Wednesdays. See meat as a blessing rather than a habit!

The 24-hour and 48-hour fasts: Go without food completely. Quite an effort. Helps to be part of a group fasting. Could be sponsored to fast to raise money for very poor communities. Or you could fast and pray together.

Why do Christians fast?

We follow Jesus's example. Jesus said: "When you fast' ... not if. And he said don't make a song and dance about it. Don't call attention to what you are doing, just quietly get on with it. You fast for God, not for approval.

Fast to identify with the world's poor. Choose to go without. They don't have the choice. You do.

Fasting as protest: Be counter-cultural. Take a hard look at our affluent society. We're very wasteful. We're very selfish. People don't seem to care much about others. We even call ourselves consumers. And we are consuming this wonderful world. It's time to stop. Choose a better way. Fasting is a jolt to a system based on greed. You literally stop being a consumer.

Fast to pray: Be less attached to "things". Instead, be more aware of the spiritual conflict we all have between good and evil. And turn to God for help.

Fast to repent: Say sorry to God for the mess we make. Ask for forgiveness.

Fast to change: Giving up food is a big deal. It shakes up everything else about how you live. You become more aware of your body and its needs. And see the bigger picture of your life. Fast to re-assess, prayerfully. It should be a struggle. It is a struggle. And it's worth it.

Fast to prepare: Prepare yourself spiritually by giving up food/things. Make religious festivals an important part of life. Put a bit of effort in beforehand. Give the meaning back to Easter or Christmas. In the end, we fast in response to God and our world. Wouldn't it be amazing if all Keighley fasted this Lent! Go on, do something a bit radical this Lent. Make 2008 the year you took fasting seriously.