In part one I explained that my pastor had given a challenge to fast 1 24-hour period a week for 4 weeks. Sounds pretty simple right? Well in Part Two I told you how the fist 3 Wednesdays went. Here is the conclusion and my thoughts.
Wednesday #4 The last Wednesday. The last challenged fast.
- OK, I had a great breakfast, egg casserole; hash browns…OK enough of that, no reminders of food.
- 12:05 and all is well, I am not hungry. But again, I am drinking lots of water and keeping my mind active. 3:25 and all is well. Been SUPER BUSY AT WORK, I think that makes it easier.
- 4:15 Experiencing hunger pangs, but still standing strong! I have been writing this while fasting, I really enjoy the research and journaling.
- 5:30 As I am leaving I get a phone call form home, supper is waiting…I reminded my family AGAIN that I am fasting. I get home and what is there for me to put away? Supper, the family is on their way out the door.
- 6:30 Finally getting around to putting the food away…it looks soooo gooood. So I look for ways to justify breaking the fast. I don’t find any. I put down the tiny piece of broccoli. I hold strong. I prevail. I am hungry.
- I made it through the evening. 3 out of 4 Wednesdays, not too bad.
I’d really like to work up to the fast during Lent. Lent is the Christian season before Easter. It is a time set aside to identify with Christ who had been fasting in the desert for 40 days. At the end of that time he is tempted by Satan-one of the temptations involves bread, Christ has the strength to deny the offer and rebuke Satan.
Lent is the time when you see a lot of folks order fish-they are not eating meat…that one always puzzles me, I mean fish are not meat? It is also a very holy Christian season. Lent starts with Ash Wednesday this is an identification of dying with Christ. And ends with the arrival of Holy week which includes Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and finally culminating in a celebration on Easter Sunday.
There are many spiritual benefits from fasting. All result growing in one’s relationship with God. Just like the body goes through a cleansing during a fast so can the spirit. Just like the body is starving for food, so does the spirit. During a fast the body is denied and the spirit is fed. Isn’t it just the opposite most of the time? It is nice to intentionally set time aside to focus on God.
Many people fast when seeking God’s will for their life or the answer to a decision or problem. When you are a week or so into a fast there is a physical sensation where one feels elated, very in-tune with their surroundings; simply put, they feel great and ready to take on the world! The same can happen spiritually, instead of spending time at a meal or just doing whatever over your lunch periods or at dinner time, spend that time feasting on the Word of God (as Pastor Donnie says, “Fasting is Feasting”; see I was listening), and spend that time communing with your creator and analyzing your spiritual walk. It can be a very joyous mountain-top experience.
A few good books on the subject are God’s Chosen Fast, Celebration of Discipline, and lastly the book that my pastor has been primarily using for his sermon series, The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (Emergent YS) by Tony Jones.
My Disclaimer: You gotta see your doctor and study the practice before you start a fast longer than a couple of days. You can hurt yourself if you don’t, so do!
What I Learned
I learned that fasting can be done with a little effort. I learned that I am definitely emotionally addicted to eating. I guess that every time I look in the mirror, guess confirmed. I learned that with a little effort eating can be ignored. I learned that I am fasting for the wrong reasons; I am fasting from being challenged not to eat and not from being challenged to grow in my relationship with God-my fault, not my pastor’s.
I am glad I took on the challenge. I can also see why one of the examples that Donnie gave from the pulpit was a guy who fasted once a week for 2 years. TWO YEARS! But it makes sense, I mean after a month of fasting (which was only 4 days) I paid little attention to God, His word and His son and instead paid much more attention to the lack of food. But maybe after 104 days of fasting I will have a better understanding of the Bible and have developed a deeper relationship with Christ.
Lastly, fasting should always be a spiritual exercise, at least in context to Christianity. Either do it for your personal, non-church related, physical reasons or do it for spiritual reasons. Don’t fast during Lent to lose weight! Fasting is definitely not some spiritual diet plan. So don’t mix the two up. I say that to remind myself that even though I do need to lose weight, a 40-day fast is not the answer. Why? Well, because during a fast the hunger is supposed to shift from the physical to the spiritual; that is the purpose of the spiritual discipline-to grow in your relationship with God