During a recent discussion about fasting, my family and I pondered the fact that while we choose to fast, much of the world is forced to fast, or even to starve. We are so ridiculously blessed that we have the option of ignoring a fully stocked pantry and refrigerator, and abstaining from food for a time of our choosing.
Fasting is indeed a privilege. And as it’s encouraged in Scripture, it certainly can’t be a bad idea!
And there was one Anna, a prophetess….And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. – Luke 2:36a-38
It may not feel so much like a privilege to fast, when we’re getting a bit lackluster or simply hungry. As for me, I tend to stay quiet and occupy my mind and body as much as I can, so that I’m not thinking about food.
When my stomach growls, I try to pray for those with third-world-category needs, and I remember all the good that fasting does:
It provides a rest for the digestive system.
It builds both self-discipline and reliance on God and family.
A longer fast (around 18 hours) brings about autophagy, in which the strongest and healthiest cells of the body eliminate the weak ones.
It has been shown to help ameliorate all sorts of health problems (including cancer!).
Knowing myself as I do, and acknowledging my love of cooking and eating healthy foods, I created a simple, manageable fasting schedule for myself. Everyone in my family approaches fasting differently, but (if you’re interested in intermittent fasting) this is what works for me:
Every Monday and Wednesday, I eat a light breakfast and then a large main meal around 1:30 p.m.; I stop eating completely around 3:30 p.m., and I begin eating again at 9:30 the next day. That ensures an 18-hour fast, twice per week.
Every Saturday, I stop eating around 4 p.m. and begin eating again around noon on Sunday (after church). That ensures a 20-hour fast, once per week.
The first Sunday of each month, I do an extended fast, beginning on Saturday evening and ending on Monday morning. That fast comprises 36 to 40 hours.
It may sound like a lot, but it’s really not, as before each fast I eat a large meal including lots of healthy fats, vegetables, and a little protein. That tends to keep me from being truly hungry during a shorter fast. I just feel “snacky,” and want to munch something. Instead, I drink lots of lemon water.
Fasting has helped all of us lose a bit of body fat, and I personally have noticed brighter and smoother skin, better sleep, reduced stress, and increased contentment with life in general. It’s given our family another reason to bond.
And it reminds us to thank God for the abundance of food we can enjoy every day.
For more on fasting, you can read my previous post, Fasting for Spiritual & Physical Health.
What are your thoughts on fasting? As always, I welcome your thoughtful comments.