“I afflicted myself with fasting;
I prayed with head bowed on my chest.” Psalm 35:13b
This was the first time I have participated in a food fast.
It was immensely difficult.
As Foster writes, the purpose of a fast is to know God deeper. Fasting is a form and expression of worship. God delights when we fast, but only when we fast for the right reason.
I have a few observations about my own spiritual wrestlings as I come to the end of this fast. This is not meant to be a boast – that is not my intent. If this blesses you: wonderful. If it does not: read something else that does.
- When the fast began, my thoughts towards others was the first area that I experienced conviction. Through fasting a non-essential thing, God reinforced the truth that all people are of concern for God; every person is a potential adoptee into the Kingdom of God. While it is true that God knows who will accept or reject his mercy and grace, I do not: therefore, let me love all as I would want to be loved.
- I was reminded that rest is a source of energy. To not rest is to sin. While coffee and carbs can only go so far, rest replenishes and restore body and soul in a manner that food does not. While fasting, the need for more rest became apparent. I then reflected on my wife and her “restlessness” stage of life: she is home with our three daughters, all three years and younger. My compassion for her grew.
- Fasting has caused me to slow down my day. Since I was without as much energy as I was used to, I had to intentionally plan my day to accomplish my tasks and responsibilities without all the “fluff” and empty time. I became more productive (at least at work; at home, I was taking naps. My wife was very gracious). This does not mean that I see myself only as a worker – rather, to my surprise, I delighted even more in the accomplished tasks and participated even more intentionally in conversations and pleasant exchanges with strangers.
- Because fasting removes a thing you think you depend upon, two wonderful things happen:
- you start to trust God to supply for you what you are fasting once did, only to discover (or be reminded) that God is far more intimately involved with his children than just with their supposed needs – he is present, always;
- Prayer becomes a place: yes, we do pray, as an action – but as Paul says to pray without ceasing, then we arrive at a moment when we are intentionally in communion with God always. We learn that we end prayers just to begin another, as though passing from room to room, but never leaving the house. It could be expressed this way: prayer is a reality that we never depart, for if prayer is a dialogue between God and man, then the conversation never truly concludes since God is always speaking to us at all time, whether we are speaking to him or not.
As you fast (as we should), may we keep God at the center. Blessings.