On the way to Vegas last month, I read an interesting article on fasting that stirred a desire in me to try a long-term fast. It seemed appropriate that my goal be 40 days, given the season of Lent, and so I would eat my last meal Feb. 27th, and fast until Easter. I’ll confess, it wasn’t a remarkably “spiritual” article, but a health and human body type focus. My fast began partially as an experiment to see what would happen to my body, and what God could do if I offered Him this exercise in self-control.
I ate nothing, drinking only water, and boy was I thirsty. 🙂 As many say, the first 3-4 days were tough, as my “hunger” faded. What most don’t say after that, however, is the amazing amount of appetite that remains. I didn’t want to give up routines, or being a good father/husband. So I would still help prepare/clean up meals, and being close to food was increasingly tough. The hardest times were when I attended a youth pizza party, catered meal, or went out to a sit-down restaurant….which seemed to happen more in these days than the previous year combined. 🙂
My energy levels remained fairly consistent. I still did pretty much everything the same, minus heading to bed early the first few nights. On day 6, I did allow myself to take communion at church. The small piece of bread tasted amazing, and the juice was sweeter than ever! I felt cleaned out and healthy, and after a week even felt a bit more alert than usual. But as time went on, the impact became more and more pronounced.
Toward the end of my 12th day, I made the decision to move toward food again. I say “move toward”, because after 12 days of not eating, the stomach isn’t ready for a bacon-cheeseburger. I ate a little spinach and carrots, and because it was my wife’s b-day party, a few crackers with cheese-ball, and couple bites of her cake. (I paid for eating that cheese-ball a bit. 🙂 )
I had lost 22 pounds in 12 days, which seemed a bit unhealthy, thanks to my high metabolism. My pants were sliding off, and people were asking me what I was doing to lose weight. It was hard to sit with my family, and still feel like I wasn’t quite “with them”, since as my 5 year old was saying, “Daddy doesn’t eat anymore.” My wife found out she was allergic to gluten, and was baking all sorts of new dishes – I could tell it was hard for her to not get any of my thoughts on this new menu for our home. I’d begun wearing socks at night, due to my feet being bricks of ice. The blood-flow had slowed to the point that even in the afternoon, my hands felt like cold fish. I could go on with more reasons, but don’t need to. The point is, I decided to stop. 🙂
I definitely recommend a fast of 1, 3, 5, or even 10 days. It’s right there with prayer in the Bible, but somehow we’ve let it go as something beneficial and God-given – not just for our spiritual, but our physical lives.
During this time, I gained a lot (except weight). I was reminded to have control of my appetites, since we live in a culture that goes way beyond satisfying hunger. We often “eat until we are full”, both literally and figuratively. I discovered fasting is not a magic spell to force God’s hand, but it does make it easier to get through the wall of “me” in my prayer life. I was even taught that perhaps the humility of choosing to stop, even though I’d told those who asked I was going to try 40 days – was good for my soul. Fasting is, after all, about letting go of self, not asserting self’s desire to succeed.
On a side note: This is best darned Naked Juice I’ve ever had. 🙂