Friday, September 29, 2006

Fasting and Failing

Well, I am trying fasting again on this lovely, sunny Friday. Two weeks ago, my attempts at fasting ended in my driving to Ruby Tuesdays at 3 in the afternoon, consuming a large plate of fried appetizers, and then feeling like a total failure.

Last night, as I was praying/falling asleep (don't they go together at night?), it occurred to me that tomorrow is Friday and it would be a good idea to try fasting again. So I resolved to try. It is now after 2p.m., so I am coming down the home stretch. I have thus far survived the temptation of breakfast, the preschool baking banana bread, and having a lunch meeting in which I drank water. It might even be easier for me to schedule a lunch meeting and announce I am fasting... that is some good accountability!

As I was thinking about fasting this morning, and why I am drawn to this discipline, a few things came to mind. First,I am drawn to fasting because it makes me feel that I am doing something serious/real/important/extreme(?) to live out my faith. That feels rather self centered! But it is true. Also true is that I do want to be more God centered. And fasting is supposed to be a way of focusing on the only real need I have: my need for God.

Second, I like the idea of dedicating a day of fasting and prayer to a particular cause or concern. This morning, I settled on asking God to help me identify with and pray for people who aren't fasting by choice...they are just plain hungry today.

Third, I have this sense that if I can just get practiced at this fasting thing, I will discover there is a depth of God's presence somehow entangled with fasting that can only be experienced by practicing fasting. I have not yet arrived there... but I remain hopeful! I have, however, discovered that there is a depth of back pain that goes with fasting. My chiropractor says that abdominal pain (aka: hunger) is often referred to the lower back. I try to remind myself that part of the purpose of fasting on Friday is to identify with Christ's suffering on the cross.

I remember reading someone's account of committing to fasting once per week for a year. She wrote that it took her many months to get beyond the surface level and get any serious spiritual insight from it. She was glad she had made the commitment to keep fasting once per week for a year. Here's hoping...

3 comments:

  1. We are having an Iftar dinner with some Turkist Muslim friends who sometimes worship with us (!) later in October and someone asked me where we could get information on Christian fasting -- since we are about to learn about Muslim fasting. Any ideas? Where did you learn about this practice, or did you simply decide not to eat?

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  2. I learned about it from a few sources, combined with my Wesleyan/Methodist heritage. It's tradition to fast on Fridays (and often Wednesdays) from sunset to sunset... aka dinner to dinner, missing breakfast and lunch.

    The books I have read on the subject are:
    1. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline
    2. Marjorie Thompson, Soul Feast
    3. Dorothy C. Bass, Practicing Our Faith
    Each include fasting as a subject, but the entire scope of each book is broader. I saw on Amazon there are many books devoted to the subject entirely.

    That is probably more than you wanted to know! Hope it is helpful. Thanks for asking.

    Blessings
    Amy

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  3. amy I like the realistic way you have approached this- no holier than thou stuff, just a desire to draw closer to God and seek his purposes for your prayer life- very inspiring

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