Well, my journey into Lent and fasting is almost over—at least for this year. I’ve learned that there are many reasons to fast, there are different types of fasts, and that I’d rather not fast. However, two things will keep fasting as a spiritual discipline for me throughout the year:
First, I’ve learned that involving my body through fasting brings a unity to my spiritual life that otherwise is missing. I tend to look at my spiritual journey as an inward process, yet what happens inside must be expressed outwardly for my journey to be a fully human experience. Fasting unites my body with my inner person in a way that complements what is happening in my mind, emotions, will, and spirit.
Second, I’ve learned the necessity of scheduling a fast, but also to respond with spontaneously fasting when a sacred moment arises. “…fasting is what happens to the unified person who encounters a moment so sacred—a death, a consciousness of sin, a need to stand before God in prayer, a desire for holiness and love—that the person simply can’t eat—the moment is too sacred to indulge in food or pleasure.” —Scot McKnight in Fasting.
Lent’s introduction to Easter is soon complete. What have you learned though fasting? Do you plan certain days or seasons to fast? What sacred moments have caused you to spontaneously fast?
In Him together, Susan Gaddis
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What I’ve found through the first type of fasting is that it’s so intentional, a very conscious decision to set aside one’s will for Christ’s. This first type of fasting may be considered more “liturgical” in that it often tends to be more planned. It may appear passive or passionate, steadfast but not arrogant. There’s often a drawing to the knees in this gentler war.
I’ve known the second type of fasting to be anything but organized. It’s a “messier” form that comes involuntarily. Rather than a drawing to the knees, we are first pulled down to our faces in utter helplessness and then gnawing desperation. No food could suffice, not even music for the pain. If anything, this type of fasting finds physical nourishment a distraction to receiving something else. Even more than the stomach, the spirit groans loudly, pleading, “It must be You!!”
Great post, and I like Melissa’s comment. Something I’ve learned is that I’m quite weak at this practice when it comes to food :-). Or coffee :-). Hence your first reason listed (unity of body and spirit) is encouragement to my ears.
Great discription, Melissa. I can tell you speak from experience.
I’m learning, like Mary, that practice is needed for me in fasting. It is a weak area for me that needs discipline to maintain. Ouch!
Yes, I like the idea of uniting our flesh and Spirit. Almost like saying to the flesh, rise up and stand for something greater than food!! Our weak flesh that says it needs to have. Yet the Spirit says truth and stregnth comes to those who wait upon the Lord!!! I fast time and sleep, because my flesh craves business and then rest in the mornings, so off with buiness and spirit gets to sit and rest, listen to the Father and no flesh writing lists. The flesh cries out that there are so many things to do and yet the Spirit reminds that it is all in the concern of the Maker of time itself. Thank you Susan