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My Struggle With Fasting

By Alison Lehman

Our small group got together last night and one thing we usually do when we’re together is talk about recent sermons. A few things came up, but one topic we deliberately focused on was Spiritual Disciplines. (Ray’s sermon from February 21) Tim conveniently had Ray’s notes because he does powerpoint on Sunday mornings, so we had cheat sheets for the things we didn’t remember accurately.

The discipline we spent time on was Fasting and we quickly realized that it’s a touchy subject. I have fasted in the past, when life seemed out of control and I needed God’s presence more than I needed life itself, but I haven’t done it lately. When you hear the word “fasting,” what thoughts come to your head? Does it mean you can’t eat and you must pray for a whole day? Depending on who you’ve learned from regarding this discipline, it can have negative connotations. “Oh forget it, I could never do that,” might then be part of your mind-set.

For me, I haven’t done it because I get lots of headaches and have trouble with dizziness when I don’t eat for a period of time. I feel guilty about it because there is this idea out there that says “this is the way you fast.” (By not eating) Well after last night’s discussion, I feel empowered to do something different. We got talking about different ways of fasting, because one of us is diabetic and sometimes you can’t skip meals. We talked about the reasons we fast – wanting to get closer to God, therefore sacrificing something to do so.

For me, it would be much more sacrificial to give up my computer for an extended period of time. I would free up time to spend with God, listening for His voice and focusing on prayer. This accomplishes the same goal but by a different avenue. Is it still fasting? Yes. So, I’m not going to get caught up in the method and wonder whether it’s the right one. It’s different for everybody. I feel a sense of freedom in discovering this and believe that God is with me on it. Let’s not be Pharisees! Jesus freed us from that a looooong time ago.

www.coffeewithalison.wordpress.com

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Well… that’s very interesting, but honestly I have a hard time seeing it. I’m wondering what others have to say?

  2. March 10, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    What is the “it” you have a hard time seeing?

  3. Tim
    March 11, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Fasting is something I’ve “done” on-and-off for awhile. I don’t exactly enjoy it in the same sense that I enjoy telling a good joke, designing and building a bookshelf, or going for a bike ride with my kids. But I’ve come to realize that good things happen if I’m willing to make this sacrifice. Whether God is actually doing more through me on those days, or I’m just more in tune with what he’s already doing, it is on the days when I fast that I tend to glimpses of His Kingdom. Waking up and remembering that I won’t be eating breakfast is both a little melancholy and a little exciting. I’m glad I’ve had some positive experiences with this to get me over the “I don’t feel like doing this” hump.

    Has anyone else had some positive (or negative) experiences to share? This blog seems like a safe place to have a discussion about a difficult or controversial subject. I think it’s okay to disagree or to have different ideas as long as they’re based on scriptural principles. Voicing our thoughts is part of the learning process, right?

  4. Paul
    March 11, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Something that comes to mind which I’ve seen to be a similar narrowness of definition, is “spare the rod, spoil the child”. I’m one who believes that the discipline of a child is best decided by what hurts most. I know for me, the threat of the cancellation of a social event was far worse than a spank on my backside. I have found with my kids that it works best as their “likes” and “dislikes” change.
    I say this to say that I have some friends with eating disorders that would love to fast, in fact they do it every day, only it’s no sacrifice to them to give up a meal or 10. I think that one may miss the intent of the spiritual discipline if I was to stick to the definition of fasting as most see it. Having said that, I can’t claim to take or leave food, so the missing a meal for me would be a sacrifice…is it lunch time yet?

  5. andrew cosway
    March 17, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Well, I have participated in Sundance last year in June in which u have no food or water for 3-4 days. I did it because it was one of the final things I needed to do for my Indian name. You are up at sunrise and u dance in your stall ’til sunset. (With a lunch break and supper break for the people helping out.) For me the fasting was hard but the Sundance and praying brought out a lot of negative energy out of me that needed release.

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