Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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If one has no real sense on how to start to fast in such a way that is not law, but spirit, how should I best begin?

From the perspective of the Coptic Orthodox Church:

One of the most fundamental components vital to sound spiritual growth and maturity is discipleship. Every person, from childhood to old age, layperson or pope, has a spiritual/ confession father. The role of the confession father is to prune and cultivate spirituality in his spiritual son/daughter throughout his/her lifetime. He knows details about his spiritual child and helps him/her to eradicate sin and grow in virtue. 

There are three essential components of any fasting period: fasting, prayer, and charity. Fasting is moderated under the guidance of the individual's spiritual/confession father. He determines the extent of his son's/daughter's ascetic practices during the fasting period—the length of strict daily abstinence from food, measure of nutritional portions, prayers, worship in prostrations (prostrations are made during prayers before the daily period of strict abstinence has concluded), scriptural and spiritual readings, and charity. Fasting is not only abstaining from certain foods, but moreover, struggling against and rejecting sin. Thus, the confession father guides his son/daughter in living a life of repentance. 

Begin with the following 8 steps:
  1. 1. Repent of any and all sin.

  2. 2. Confess your sins to your confession father and receive absolution (this do monthly or more).

  3. 3. Pray all your canonical prayers with some prostrations (if you have the physical ability).

  4. 4. Read spiritual books (under the guidance and with the permission of your confession father).
  6. 5. Extend mercy and charity to your community and to those in need.

  7. 6. Attend more liturgies and partake of the Holy Eucharist often.

  8. 7. Modify your nutritional diet to consist of vegan meals (if your health allows).

  9. 8. Practice a daily period of strict abstinence (if permitted by your confession father).
    (Daily strict abstinence is not observed on Saturdays, Sundays, and any Lord's Feasts)

Note: It is understood that the role of the "confession father" may be different in the Roman Catholic Church than in the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Macarius of Egypt (ca. 300 – 391)
This is the mark of Christianity: however much a man toils, and however many righteous deeds he performs, to feel that he has done nothing, and in fasting to say, "This is not fasting," and in praying, "This is not prayer," and in perseverance at prayer, "I have shown no perseverance; I am only just beginning to practice and to take pains"; and even if he is righteous before God, he should say, "I am not righteous, not I; I do not take pains, but only make a beginning every day." 

May our benevolent Lord accept your fasting, prayers, charity, and repentance and lead you to eternal life.
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