If you’ve never considered fasting as a spiritual discipline, I can heartily recommend it. There’s more to a fast than just giving up food and it can yield great results in your life and improve your relationship with God.

I don’t fast a lot. I eat a lot. I think about food almost all the time and sometimes it really takes a significant event to get me to skip even a snack. That’s partly because I like food and partly because I overdid fasting a few years ago.

A Season of Fasting

There was a season when I fasted a lot. For about a year I fasted an average of one day per week or more. It was a time of great spiritual growth and I loved that time. But towards the end I got burned out. I started focusing more on maintaining the discipline of fasting and creating experiences with God (as though I can create those) than I did just enjoying God and allowing him to use my whole life to speak to me. And I think I probably started to take some pride my self-discipline as though it was about me and not about God.

“Fasting must forever center on God…If our fasting is not unto God we have failed”
Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (affiliate)
via Meditative Meanderings.

A Season of Rest

So, after that season was over I essentially laid aside fasting. I’m not saying I never fasted but I avoided it as much as I could. Or I watered it down to make it easier – “I’m fasting chocolate today.” Yeah right, as though that cost me anything.

But it is what it is and it was what it was.

Until today. Today I fasted about half the day. The reasons aren’t really all that important but I felt that I needed to indulge a fast (yes, that’s an oxymoron.) And when I did, I discovered a few things.

  1. Fasting isn’t that hard
    Sure, it can sound really difficult and impressive to give up food for a few hours, but it’s really not that hard.  It just takes a little focus and discipline.
  2. Fasting helps me remember
    I had a few things I wanted to pray about. Some Christian brothers I wanted to hold up in prayer but I was afraid I’d get too distracted at work and I’d forget to pray. But the feelings of hunger that come with fasting reminded me to pray. And, pray I did.
  3. Fasting fosters intimacy
    Maybe this hasn’t been your experience, but I found that I felt closer to God than normal. I felt more sensitive to him leading me and reminding me to pray.
  4. It was like putting on an old sweater
    Sure, there are parts of fasting that are uncomfortable. But as I went through the day I remembered the intimacy I felt when I fasted before. I remembered of the sweet presence of God that makes it all worthwhile. And, like an old sweater that feels a little rough, the fragrance of my history with God was sweet. And it left me wanting more.

Now, this isn’t to say that I’m going to pick up the regular discipline of fasting. That I’m going to white knuckle my relationship with God by giving up food regularly. It just means that I’m more open to fasting than I was a few weeks ago. That perhaps this area of my life is ready for a change.

With that I’d like to leave you with one more quote and a couple of questions.

Suggestions for Fasting and Feasting: Fast from discontent; feast on thankfulness. Fast from worry; feast on trust. Fast from anger; feast on patience. Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others. Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayers . Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness. Fast from discouragement, feast on hope. Fast from media hype, feast on the honesty of the Bible. Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence. Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

Anonymous (via DailyChristianQuote.com)

How about you?

What has been your experience with fasting?
What keeps you from fasting?

Photo credit: Curt Fleenor on Flickr (Creative Commons License)

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