My pastor, Donnie Miller of Trinity Family Church, has been preaching a series this summer that has been designed to be a spiritual summer training program. He started off with prayer and journaling and has moved through fasting to silence. I would like to talk about fasting.
Fasting is simply the denial of something. It is commonly in relation to food. So if you fast a meal you skip a meal. There are many variations. Most of the time it does not involve excluding water and sometimes juice may be drunk as well. Most of the time the practice is related to religion; many world religions acknowledge the practice. In Christendom many fast for many different reasons. The Lenten Fast is the most common or “popular”; it coincides with Jesus’ 40 days in the desert before he started his ministry. Christians’ observance of the practice vary from not eating meat on Fridays (except fish…) to a real honest-to-goodness 40-day fast! Some people fast sleep, some people fast eating chocolate or not listening to the radio. But this isn’t fasting in the strict use of the term, it has just evolved in practice.
Why folks fast also vary. There are folks who regularly fast for healthy-related reasons. Fasting helps detox the body. In the case of religion, and specifically Christianity fasting should only be done in relation to a spiritual discipline, to seek God or to draw closer to God.
I have attempted fasting in the past; I have never been too successful. I have even felt panicky at the prospect of denying myself food. Honestly, I like to eat, just take one look at my physique (or my chubby face).
I would say more accurately that I am addicted to eating. OK, I know what some are saying: We’re all addicted to eating! But I am not talking about the physical need for sustenance-I mean we have to eat or we’ll die, yeah, I get that.
I am talking about an emotional desire to consume tasty, delicious food! Steak & potatoes, sweets, fast food, ice cream, French fries, candy, pop, chips…well, you get the idea. I like to eat! And I don’t necessarily like to eat unhealthily; I just like to eat what tastes great! Most of the time that is junk food, fast food, fried foods, pizza, etc. Occasionally it is the succulent peach that is in season and perfectly ripe. Rarely is it a salad with the exception of a salad from Pizza Shoppe with extra pink stuff and pizza on the side! OK, I’m drooling.
I like to sit down with friends and share a meal; this is very important to me. I like to eat while watching TV. I like popcorn during movies. I like snacking at the mall. I like late-night runs for ice cream with the family. I like multiple portions.
So when Donnie challenged us to fast 1 24-hour period a week for 4 weeks, well, I was happy to think that I could do it, but not too eager to actually go through with it. Here was the challenge: Fast for or 4 consecutive Wednesdays. Fast for a 24-hour period. Eat breakfast, and then don’t eat until breakfast the next morning. Sounds pretty simple right? I’d really only be skipping 2 meals.
I’ll tell you how it went in Part II.