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Fasting

15 March, 2004 2:28 PM

I'm doing some reading on fasting at the moment for a paper I'm writing for college. I'm interested to know how many people reading this blog fast. If so why? What is your experience of it? How do you go about it? What practical tips would you suggest? What benefits come out of it? Do you see it as a command or an optional thing?

If you don't - why? Do you think its not for today? Is it a personal preference things? Have you ever had teaching on it? Have you ever tried?

Any thoughts you'd like to leave in comments below would be great background for me as I consider the topic, I may even quote you in my paper if it triggers something (write anonymously or say if you don't want to be quoted). Happy to send out the paper when its finished if people are interested.

Comments

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Fasting... hmmm... This is the hardest thign I ever do. I regularly fast - like people regularly quit smoking. I begin with good intentions trying to fast one day a week and always last 3 or 4 weeks before giving up. I believe it is a really impiortant discipline for me to practice (because i 'worship' food) but it is incredibly hard. If you haven't done so yet read John Pipers 'Hunger For God' - life changing stuff in that book

hamo » 15 March, 2004 2:52 PM

I wrote some thoughts on fasting here - I've missed a few Fridays since I started, but have been mostly faithful to the guidelines that I've set - no food or drink other than water from breakfast on Friday morning until the sun sets that night. I realize that it's not much of a fast, but it is enough to make my body complain and make its discomfort known.

Bridgier » 15 March, 2004 3:43 PM

I have been taught and practiced fasting a number of times. One particular phrase that remained with me from one teaching session was that scripture says, "When you fast...", not "IF" or "MAYBE" or whatever other convenience we would like to add before the instructions given.

One of the things I have learned from my practices of fasting is that the fasting in itself is a discipline. If you are able to add an additional discipline (ie, prayer, study, reflection) in place of mealtime that's great but for those required to prepare and serve meals for others, fasting alone is most definitely a spiritual exercise.

On a practical note: the first three days of a seven day fast are the hardest. Day 10 is a turning point when going on a longer session. One day, once a week, is demanding because of the struggle to sustain any recurring discipline: daily life fights against it.

Physical notes: Drink lots of water/juice. It's not great to go on a "water only" fast if your body is not used to fasting as this dumps alot of toxins directly into your blood stream and you will likely end up physically sick. A "juice fast" is easier on the body. Another option (I practiced last year due to medication that required food) was a 40 day fast limited to water and raw vegetables.

Regardless of the form, a fast is a wonderful time of spiritual growth for a believer in Christ.

Char » 15 March, 2004 3:47 PM

I haven't had any fast for 7-8 years. The reason is simple, when I fast, even just for one meal, I "black out". Then I have been either pregnant or nursing for all these years. I don't think fasting is appropriate for me. Plus, if I fast, all I'm thinking about is food, it just increases my craving for food greatly, so I don't find that a benefit.
What I'm going to say next maybe completely weired or unacceptable to a lot of people, so if you don't like it, I apologize first, and just don't read on.
There are different kind of fasting. One day fasting, I think it's a cleaning process that the body requires. Nature's way of cleansing.
other fastings(like 3 days, 21 days, 40 days,etc) are for the purpose of spiritual warfare or deliverance. When a person is demonised, the demons live in certain parts of the body. It takes a certain time of fasting to stop the nutrition going to that part of the body so the demon has to leave.(Mark8:29). Demons have different ranks or levels. Some are in charge of a local area, others are in charge of a region, or kingdom. the biggest one has to use the 40 day fast to get rid of. Well, you might argue that Jesus can't be demonised, true, he doesn't have sin, either, but he still went for the water baptism. I think he did it to give us an example of the process of spiritual cleansing and the effective way of dealing with the devil.
Well, I'm just making guesses also.

Susan » 15 March, 2004 5:22 PM

In our house, we each ask God to communicate to us what he reckons we should be doing without for Lent. So far, consumptive items have included...

... your first response
... makeup
... sleeping in
... defending yourself emotionally
... bolstering your self esteem
... cynicism (that was hard)
... laughing at others misfortune

It has made for some pretty gutsy house dinners when we get together and try to support each other in our chosen fast.

Stephen » 15 March, 2004 5:41 PM

I'm not sure about fasting. I've never heard any teaching on it but was under the impression that it wasn't something Christians do any more. I guess there are people here that are proving me wrong.

Craig » 15 March, 2004 11:25 PM

I've heard its a dangerous practice if not done correctly. Especially with people with eating disorders. I guess it comes back to motivation and being sensible.

Sammy » 15 March, 2004 11:55 PM

I really had a hard time dealing with the attitudes to fasting in my church because it seemed to be such a minefield of legalism. I just couldn't accept that going on hunger strike until God did what you were asking him to do fitted in with the rest of what I knew about God.

In the end, I figured that the possible benifits of fasting were:
1. You get extra time (when you're not eating) to pray.
2. As a memory prompt it's unbeatable. You never forget your hunger and you always know why your hungary so your prayers are foremost in your mind the whole time.
3. It builds character. Any form of suffering will change you for the good, you'll be less focussed on your own desires and more focused on others'. To use the Freudian terminoogy - you're putting the ID back in it's place and letting the SUPEREGO take over for a bit.

There are other positive aspects to it but I think those were the big ones that I could see.

Personally, I don't really fast much. And I try not to tell anyone when I do.

Dan » 16 March, 2004 12:14 AM

I found that fasting builds character too. There is nothing like hunger pains to bring out a person's true issues. I find its a very humbling experience that brings issues to the surface.

After a few days (I've only done long ones a few times) brings a real clarity of thought.

I'd highly recommend it but don't see it as an essential command.

Alex » 16 March, 2004 12:44 AM

I hadn't really thought about fasting until last summer. I don't even know what made me think of it, but I think it may have been God. It was just one of those whisper-thoughts in the back of your mind, that seem out of place because you wouldn't think of them. So I talked to an older wiser friend of mine about it. I wasn't sure if it was risky or anything because I'm young, but she encouraged me but told me that if I was really uncomfortable to talk to my doctor about it.

For my first experience it didn't go so well; I wasn't in the right mindset I don't think, because I just got really bored. I think I'd need to be closer and more focused on God to do it a next time, but I'm really interested in fasting. I think I'd like to start doing it on a regular basis in the future.

jess @ s�lent tr�bute » 16 March, 2004 4:21 AM

My limited experience with fasting has been when in preparation for being a part of a team ministering in prayer (healing, deliverance) to someone. I usually choose not to eat from after the evening meal the night before till after the ministry. I

t is not to try and twist God's arm, but more of a time of reflection on the Lord before ministry, and announcing to myself, and any spiritual forces on the alert (and they usually are at that time) that this is a time when a person is getting serious with God.

One interesting side isue I noticed recently - one day I had eaten something that morning, forgot or something. Anyhow, I found I was much more physically uncomfortable in ministry, and less able to stay focussed on hearing the voice of the Lord that session.

Janet » 16 March, 2004 8:20 AM

I fast every year at Lent, and occasionally at other times. I must not do it right, it doesn't seem to do much for me. I have not fasted at all where I go days without eating anything. Sometimes I fast a meal or at the most 2. Usually, I fast other things: tv, fast food, music, etc.

Benjy (groovythpstr) » 16 March, 2004 1:17 PM

Good discussion - I'm glad someone is talking about it.

I see fasting as a command. It isn't something that will stop you getting into heaven, but something that we ignore to our peril. Jesus said 'When you fast...' to his disciples. He obviously expected them to fast. I don't understand why it is not taught or modeled by Christian leaders today!?

I can understand that for some its a health issue. I wouldn't impose it on everyone, but it is something we all should consider in some form.

Seth » 16 March, 2004 1:30 PM

I find that when i fast that my prayers are answered more than when I don't. Maybe it gets God's attention more?

Sally » 17 March, 2004 8:57 AM

thanks all for your thoughts. I've just handed my paper in and presented it to my class. I added all of your comments as an appendix and it was appreciated by my class mates.

Feel free to continue posting without fear of being quoted now the paper is in!

Darren » 17 March, 2004 5:56 PM

I only skimmed through the other comments, so I might've missed some things -- but it seemed that no one mentione fasting outside of religious purposes. I'm not going to debate fasting with anyone, but here's my experience in one word: Bad.

Then again, I'm an anorectic (ex? in recovery), so my "fasts" tend(ed) to be a little more insane and less for spiritual reasons. It's one thing to fast for prayer, guidance, peace, etc; it's quite another to wake up one morning and decide never to eat again since you've gained half a pound.

Longest fast was about 16 days for me. But I tended to almost always be in a state of fasting; I usually would only eat every other day, and in the later stages that "meal" was an Ensure, so I'm not sure if that counts as still fasting or not.

Fasting can definitely be beneficial, but I really don't see how embarking on long-term fasts often can possibly be healthy. To me, the only difference between extreme anorexia nervosa and fasting/calorie restriction is the mindset, but that won't keep your heart from giving out, bones from weakening, and brain cells from dying.

James D » 20 March, 2004 8:27 AM

On a spiritual level, the victories won through Fasting can be extremely significant. The fast of Daniel and the fast of Esther are two examples of powerful response from God in answer to prayer coupled with fasting.

Personally I have fasted a lot. From these experiences I have observed how powerful it is. While I hesitate to link all my fasting directly with certain miracles/answers to prayer, I certainly am aware that the fasting I have practiced before the Lord has enhanced my prayer and the anointing upon my life. It definately brings more power in the holy spirit. Jesus Christ taught that some demons cannot be cast out except through fasting and prayer. This demonstrates that fasting is required to attain higher levels of power in the holy spirit.

Some practical ideas for fasting:

1) Enter into a fast already in a state of prayer. It's important to know you can stay focused on your prayer during a fast - Otherwise you may find yourself continually daydreaming of food! Fasting entails a time of strong prayer, otherwise it just becomes a weight-loss program :)

2) Be aware of your natural body. If you go on a three day+ fast and then go to a steak house, you may have serious problems downstairs. The stomach must be gently treated coming off a fast, otherwise serious health complications can arise.

3) Considering 1) & 2) above it is advisable that people new to fasting start small (ie: 1 meal to a day), building up to longer fasts as experience grows. The benefits of established fasting are not only power on a spiritual level, but those experienced in fasting know it to be extremely cleansing and healthy for the natural body.

Large fasts? Moses and Jesus both went on forty day fasts, therefore there is a precedent for large fasts. For this reason I don't think we should discourage this. However we have to remember Moses and Jesus certainly weren't novices!

Clint Vize » 20 March, 2004 5:56 PM

I fasted to heal my cervical cancer.
I believed if I sacrificed my food for a connection to GOD and my focus on a miracle cure ..it would happen and It DID!

Dr.s cannot believe that i no longer have a trace of Cancer. Glory to GOD and the miracle of fasting through spiritual connection with GOD!

Brenda Gaines » 25 April, 2004 11:08 PM

I would like to undertake a long fast 7-10 days, but as I've never done it before, I would like to do it under some medical supervision/advise. I found resort in Thailand (http://www.healingchild.com/default.htm) that provides an opportunity for long fasts, but I cannot find anything similar in Australia. If you know about similar resorts, pleaae post some information here. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Elvira » 19 May, 2004 10:29 AM

Hi, fasting is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced, it is the ultimate for both body and soul, but knowledge should be obtained first plus a gradual start such as one day a week then maybe 2 days and slowly work upwards. Most important is how you break it. Juice fasting is my latest fad.

A lot of people these days would just about die if they went on a radical fast as the toxins from chemicals in the body from all the poisoned food we eat are just too much.
It takes 21 days before the liver will release such toxins such as DDT.

I have been told that enemas are important and have never tried them but am contemplating doing so on my next juice fast.

I have only done water fast and you go through very bad albeit short intervals where you feel the worst but it is only when a bad toxin is being past through then you feel sooo great.

Have fun bye Amanda

amanda » 30 June, 2004 11:54 PM

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