Monday, August 12, 2013

Fasting: Food for Thought

As we seek God’s face together, our church will be fasting together on Wednesday, August 21.  We will be asking God to open our hearts and to move in our community.

If that date does not suit your schedule, pick another day.  Remember that if you miss two meals, you have roughly a 24-hour fast.  If you miss three meals you will have roughly a 36-hour fast.

The point of the fast is self-denial for the purpose of spiritual openness.  The time normally associated with meals can be devoted to time with the Lord, reading and meditating on scripture, praying, and listening.

Here are a few tips on fasting.

Don’t try to “stock up” before you begin your fast.  I can tell you from experience that it can make you uncomfortable as you begin your fast.  Scale back on your portions for a meal or two before the fast.  You may consider beginning your fast after a meal of fruits and vegetables.  Break your fast with a light meal as well.

I recommend reading the chapter on fasting in Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.  Excerpts can be found at this link  

For a traditional fast you should drink only water.  However, you may choose to drink fruit juices to ease your way into the discipline of fasting.  You can also squeeze some lemon juice in your water, if you need some flavor.  Avoid artificial flavors and sweeteners.  If you are accustomed to caffeine, so you could experience some headaches during the fast.  You could cut back on caffeine a few days before your fast.  And without the coffee  you may need more sleep.  This is a good time to get caught up!

If  health concerns prevent you from fasting, you may choose an alternative type of fast.  You could abstain from meat and dairy products, along the lines of the Daniel Fast.

Another type of fast is a media fast.  For some of us, this may be much harder than going without food.  For this fast variation, consider eliminating all video screens and audio feeds.  No cell phone use, no tablets, iPads, laptops, desktops, televisions, radios, Skype, Facetime, iPods or MP3 players, records, tapes, smart phones, Kindles, Nooks.  For some of us, work responsibilities make this impossible, but all of us can cut back on some media.  One hundred years ago, almost none of these devices had been invented.  We can scarcely imagine life without them.

The time we are unplugged from media we can turn to the Lord.

Fasting can open our hearts to hear from God.  But don’t be disappointed if you don’t find some grand revelation.  God also speaks to us in the small, simple things, such as resting in care.