Tonight my Spiritual Disciplines class will visit the subject of fasting. FASTING. It’s one thing to teach the biblical truths about fasting, and another thing to identify with and testify to the value of fasting on a personal basis. Studying about fasting is simply not the same as actually fasting. To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to fast.
Fasting is a particular challenge to me because I have had a problem with overeating for many years. It’s more than just liking to eat … it has many of the characteristics of an addiction. Many of my efforts to deal with this over the years were temporarily successful, but ultimately a failure. For the past several months, though, I have been teaching an addiction recovery class. The principles of this class and the testimony of the group members have helped me make some inroads into the addiction quality of this problem. This has been very helpful. I share that with you so that you will know what a challenge it is to even consider fasting.
I would like to report that after two seasons of fasting there were startling spiritual revelations, amazing progress in spiritual formation, and the beginning of a fascinating new journey for me. But I can’t. This is not the case. I am not sure what I expected. I do know that I have learned something about myself, and that is always good…even if what you learn isn’t all that good.
There were a few things I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to just go without food. I believe a fast is more than simple abstinance, but abstinance that points our hearts into new directions or clearer directions. Also, I did not want to tell a lot of people that I was fasting. I just wanted to do it quietly. For the most part, this is what I did.
So why am I telling you about it? I wanted to share my experience because at first I regarded it as a failure. I think that’s what keeps a lot of people from practicing this discipline. I simply fasted, went about my day, and whenever I was hungry I asked God to fill me with that kind of hunger for Him. Maybe it’s because of my own personal struggles but fasting seemed like a spiritual juggernaut that I could never conquer. But I did just fine. And I wanted to share that also. Aside from any medical concerns, most people could fast if they would dare to walk into that arena with God.
What insight have I gained? I think the major insight in my fasting thus far is that I do not have to experience something grand for this to be a beneficial discipline. In many small ways this is an exercise that resets the system and redirects the attention. I plan to make fasting a part of the regular rythm of my spiritual walk. I believe that there is more to gain in the future through this practice. I’ll need patience. Fasting is not so fast.
So what is your experience with fasting? Got any pointers?
My classnotes on fasting will be posted HERE as they are prepared.
Thanks for reading!