I’ve wanted for a long time for fasting to be a part of my life. At different times I’ve taken haphazard shots at fasting. I’d think, “I think I’ll give it a try today,” and I would fast until I got hungry. (Now honestly, I don’t think that’s really fasting. I think that’s skipping a meal.) For a few months I fasted once a week, until I went on a missions trip and the leader didn’t allow fasting. This totally derailed my streak, which I didn’t resume when I got home. It was kind of a good thing though, because I was feeling proud of myself for fasting regularly, which just seems totally counterproductive.
This brings me to my first question about fasting: Is fasting supposed to be productive? Add to that question a couple of others: What do you get out of fasting? Does it work? Come to think of it, are these questions anywhere near the right questions, or do they in themselves reveal that I just don’t get it? Is it like going to the library and asking for a hamburger and fries, and then when the librarian says, “This is a library”, responding by asking again, only much more quietly?
I recently did a week of a Daniel fast. For some guidelines, I checked out www.danielfast.wordpress.com The basic gist is no meat, no dairy, no sugar, no yeast, no processed food. If fasting is supposed to help you focus on God, I failed. I thought a lot about the food I wasn’t supposed to have, or (as I tried to tell myself) the food I was choosing not to eat.
I wonder if in Bible times, getting food was harder than it is in my circumstance, and so not eating freed up time otherwise spent in the arduous task of obtaining and preparing food. I thought about the Psalmist when he said that the Word of God was like food to him. Maybe that means so much more when the food in your world is something precious and life-sustaining, not something that is everywhere, offered to you every time you turn around (and most of it not in your best interest to eat anyway).
Some people say they gain clarity from fasting. Good for them. I’m not so sure that was my experience. I thought I was supposed to fast. I did. Maybe that is all there is to it. I just can’t get away from Jesus saying, “When you pray and fast…” (Matthew 6). Obedience. No prize, no out-of-body experience, no reward – just the obedient sacrifice that is part of following Jesus, part of the spiritual worship which is, as the King James says, “your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).Debbie has been involved in Women’s Ministry for lots of years, and has spoken at outreach events, seminars, and a retreat. She’s also conducted workshops on a variety of subjects. She is best described as a woman who can speak on any topic; her strength is her authenticity and humor. Somehow, Debbie can bring truth to light in a profound way using everyday issues common to us all. Truth penetrates deeply while you laugh and enjoy her. Debbie has been married for 22 years to the same guy, Brad, and they have 3 teenaged sons. She earned a BA in Theology in Pastoral Ministries from Vanguard College. She’s been a women’s pastor, a discipleship pastor, and an interim pastor, and is involved in missions. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.