Schoolchildren line up for free issue of soup and a slice of bread in the Depression, Belmore North Public School

Would You Like a Glass of Water With Your Juice? – How to survive your first fast.

 

If you’ve never fasted, it can be a pretty scary thing.  It’s actually been a little while since I’ve fasted.  I use to do it on a fairly regular basis.  So I’m actually pretty excited.

The idea behind fasting is two fold. The first is to deny yourself of something you like/need in order to drive/draw yourself to God. The second is to give yourself extra time to pray (which pours back into the first part).

Most fasts typically give up food for a season of time, but there are a lot of options for fasting. I hope to give you a few tips for fasting that I’ve picked up. Once again, it’s been awhile since I’ve fasted, but hopefully you can learn from some of the mistakes that I’ve already made.

Be honest with yourself

For most this will be a life changing event. We have grown up in a society that teaches us to do everything but sacrifice.  Be honest with yourself. Don’t say you are going to give up TV if you know that there is no way that you really will. You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. Be honest with yourself and give up something that you know you will be able to go without.

If you’ve already started a fast and are realizing now that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew (sorry I couldn’t pass up that pun), it’s ok to edit your fast. God won’t shoot you with lightening bolts from heaven (or will He….hmmmm).

Start Small

If this is the first time that you are going to fast, don’t give up everything but water (by the way this is the hardest and most dangerous of all fasts and should only be done with a doctors supervision). Start off small. Give up meat or alcohol (for all my boozers out there). Then work your way up to harder fasts later down the road.

My first fast was a three day all juice fast. Since then I’ve done a three week juice fast and a three week fruits and vegetable fast. But the key is to start small and work your way up to more challenging fasts.

A side note though, make sure that the fast is still challenging, or else you’re not fasting. You’re just giving something up for a little while.

Check your calendar

This will happen every time you decide to do a fast. You will swear off booze for a week, and an hour later your best friend who you haven’t seen in four years will call you up out of the blue for a beer. These are the things you have to prepare yourself for.

But you need to make sure in advance that you don’t already have something scheduled that will conflict with your fast. This might mean that you are going to need to reschedule your fast, alter your fast, reschedule your event, or be prepared for the temptation that comes with your event.

People will find out

Jesus tells us that we aren’t to proclaim to people that we are fasting, but the reality is that people will find out (unless you’re giving up some obscure thing that no one would notice anyways…even you). When people notice that you turn down their offer for a Starbucks run for the fifth time in a row, they will start to ask questions. I find this is a great opportunity to share the gospel with them in a simple and humble fashion. “Oh I’ve given up coffee for a few days so I can use that time to draw closer to God through prayer.” The key is to not make a big deal about it and most of the time they won’t either.

Don’t do it alone

Fasting isn’t a glamorous or easy act. So don’t go it alone. Team up with a friend or a group of friends. This way you have someone to pray with during lunch. You can also pray for each other during your fasts too.

It’s not a contest

This happened to me on my first 40-day fast. I had given up all food for forty days and I was doing really well…too well in fact. I was getting really excited. I was half way through the fast and was really starting to get full of my self. I was starting to think about how cool it was going to be to tell people that I had gone 40 days without any solid food (I was just having juice and smoothie every now and then). I knew I needed to edit my fast mid-stream and start a fruit and vegetable fast. This kept me from being prideful, but still allowed me to deny myself and drive myself to God.
If you find yourself getting prideful about your fast, it’s time reevaluate your heart and actions. Remember your purpose is to draw closer to God and not to build yourself up.

If necessary, STOP

There are times when you will just need to stop your fast all together. Your health is a really good reason for this. Any fast where you deny yourself of food can be dangerous to your health (do lots of research before you give up any type of food).

The main reason to stop is if your fast interferes with your relationship with God. I have a friend who doesn’t fast because he says that he ends up focusing on the fast rather than focusing on God. Remember the ultimate purpose of a fast is to draw you closer to God. If you find that your fast is doing the opposite, STOP! No fast is worth your relationship with God. Stop your fast and find other avenues to draw closer to God.

That’s it for now. Until next time, enjoy your juice.