What do you think of when you think of fasting? The first thing that comes to my mind is STARVING! A few years ago I never would have thought I’d ever be able to fast, but as learned more about it and my perception of WHAT it was changed I’ve changed and today I find it an important discipline in my faith journey.
Scripture is FILLED with information about fasting and I’ll get to some of that, but a quick search of the internet brings up this explanation:
gerund or present participle: fasting
abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance.
||eat nothing, abstain from food, refrain from eating, go without food, go hungry, starve oneself;
go on a hunger strike;
This is on my mind this week as I fast to prepare for weekend full of worship. Each time I’ve fasted I’ve had different experiences and this week’s journey is what has prompted this post.
A few years ago I never would have attempted fasting. I had put too much time, energy, effort…and money into my recovery from eating disorders that I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that. Over the years God has walked with me through the process. I kept things simple to begin with by fasting from just one thing like soda or sugar or something like that. One year I was led to fast from all of the technology that was getting in the way of my relationship with Christ. I work in IT so I only allowed myself to use technology to do my job. I put auto responders on my email/text explaining I was unavailable and would respond the next month and if they really needed to reach me to pick up the phone and call me. Yes, a phone could be considered technology I know, but I had lost touch with those around me so picking up a phone to reconnect with people was allowed. Understand that each time I’ve been led to fast it has been me being obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading and not my own ideas.
I began to see fasting as a way of connecting through my giving up something sacrificially that may be standing in the way of my relationship with Christ. Sometimes my fasting has led to life changes that once I gave something up I didn’t go back to it. My intention was to become more personally connected to Jesus through the process and it has led to living an overall healthier life in some cases.
I’ve chosen fasting as a way that I physically empty me of me in order that I would be filled up with all that God would have for me. Sometimes it has been a way of confession while other times a way of renewal. Each time it seems to be for a little bit different reason and each time I have a little bit different experience.
As I mentioned at the beginning, it has been this week’s experience that has led me to writing today. Today is day 5, the last day, of a fast I’ve chosen to partake in as a part of an amazing worship event I attend every year. Each year I know that I’m fasting with other sisters in Christ around the area before we come together at the feet of Jesus for powerful worship all weekend. We spend the week emptying ourselves so that we would be filled up with power of the Holy Spirit to go and do the work God would have us do.
Here are the guidelines I followed:
Each year prior to the event, we spend several days fasting and praying in order to prepare ourselves for Women in Worship. If you would like to join us, you are encouraged and welcomed to do so. This is a progression fast; each day you will remove items from your diet and keep them out until the fast has concluded on the evening of Women in Worship
Be sure to drink plenty of non-chlorinated water the entire week. If you are under physician care or taking medication, please consult with your physician prior to undertaking this fast.
Monday May 18- Friday May 22, 2015
Monday – Remove all processed sugars from your diet, i.e., sodas, candy, snack and junk foods
Tuesday – Remove all red meats, shell fish, crab, shrimp, lobster, cat fish
Wednesday – Remove all meats
Thursday – Remove all breads
Friday – Eat fruits and vegetables only until 3:00 p.m. Fast ends at 3:00 p.m.
What I began to notice right away Tuesday was that I found myself indulging in the things I would be giving up the next day. God and I spent time chatting about this throughout the week as I continued to notice it each day. I don’t remember that being much of an issue in previous times I’ve fasted. It made me think about how I live my life though, indulging in things that may not be good for me along the way. The Holy Spirit has opened my eyes to some of these indulgences through this process that I would turn from those ways and live differently…starting NOW…because I’m no longer blind to them.
Another thing I noticed right now after looking at the guidelines again, as I posted them above, is I didn’t do it EXACTLY like that. Yep, you got it…I messed up. The gift of God’s grace played out right here in front of me. There was a time that my perfectionism would’ve gotten the best of me right here and I would’ve thrown in the towel, not gone to worship, and dug myself into a hole so deep with pity the rest of the night. Today I praise God for ability to notice I messed up and be able to shrug it off knowing that I did it just the way I was supposed to do it for ME, following how I was led to do it, and knowing that my life has been changed because of it. Now I can’t wait to get to worship to see what else it is that God has in store for me today & this weekend!