I don’t know about you, but I luv to eat. And my favorite foods? Pasta is number one, then anything else that could possibly have the highest carbohydrate count is right up there. My go – to stress food is Lays Classic potato chips. And usually they are eaten when all the happenings of the day hit me the most…at night.
My daughter is always telling me that I need to do intermittent fasting where you follow a cycle of eating and fasting. No food is off limits (I like that part) rather it is developing a pattern of eating. Studies have shown that this can help improve brain function, health, and may even help you live longer. If I can still have my carbs, I’m all in!
Fasting has been around from the beginning of time. Ezra 8:21 says, “Then I (Ezra) proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.” Ezra was written around 536 B.C. and that was a lo-o-o-ong time ago. God called His people to fast for many things: protection, healing, spiritual cleansing, confession of sin, God’s intervention, and God’s direction just to name a few.
As I have grown as a Christian, I have tried to fast on my own so many times. The reason I say that is because I didn’t understand exactly what the purpose for fasting was. For so long I thought it was giving up food so that God knew I was spiritual. I knew I was supposed to not eat, but what was I supposed to do instead? I was told that I should replace the time I would have been eating with prayer. I tried praying during the lunch times I gave up, but my prayers seemed to hit the ceiling and stay there taunting me. I knew that giving up food was depriving my body, but how was that a spiritual thing?
Now I realize that fasting has nothing to do with how I look to God. It has everything to do with being available to God. My head goes in so many different directions all at the same time and this is often a deterrent to doing what God has led me to do. I sit down at my computer with all intentions of finishing the first chapter of the book I’m working on and after I open the manuscript file, I then have to open my Bible app and this is where I start letting busyness rob me of my intentions. Once Google is open, then I open BibleGateway or YouVersion. But wait, did anyone respond to my devotion on Facebook? Maybe I better check. Ah, I need to play Cookie Jam so I don’t lose my daily sign – in rewards. And, oh I just remembered, Jim needs an appointment, better hop over to MyChart. End of month already??? Gotta pay those bills online. Two hours later I go back to my book and can’t figure out why the inspiration isn’t the same as it was earlier.
And here is where my fasting comes in. Food really doesn’t mean much to me. I do like to eat, but I am actually kind of humdrum about when I eat. So I don’t feel that giving up a lunch to fast does much for me spiritually. I tried giving up certain foods, but that didn’t really bring me closer to God either. But my time, now that is another thing altogether. I have found that a month – long fast without games has often been what was needed to bring me back to where I needed to be. Spiritual cleansing, getting my mind on what it needs to be on, disciplining my spirit. To me, fasting something I really like, that potentially takes my focus from living like Jesus, is my sacrifice.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I feel God calling me to fast the way Ezra called the Levites to do. Usually this is during one of my solitary weekends in the mountains or some other time when God and I are alone for a period of time. When I feel that God wants to get me alone with His thoughts I will set aside 2 or 3 days to just be with Him. That is usually when I feel compelled to fast meals and focus on Him.
Bottom line, fasting is saying, “God, there is nothing in this world that I want to take my focus from You. I am Your willing vessel and I give all to You.” No matter how you feel led, just do it. Fasting is a discipline for your soul. Fasting is a cleansing of your heart. Fasting is humility in a world of pride. So, just as for our health we may do an intermittent fast for our physical health, we should even more so do intermittent fasting for our spiritual health.