Friday, January 5, 2007

Be Encouraged....and Persevere...! Fast on...Fast on!

How is your fast going?

If you are drinking only water, for instance, have you sensed the changes taking place in your body? Are you needing to turn the heater up a bit higher in the car or to wear a bit warmer clothing as your body begins generating far less heat by burning far fewer calories? That is one of the things that took me by surprise the first time I went on an extended, water-only fast.

Has it been difficult or easy so far? My guess is you have found it more difficult than easy...Of course, fasting is never completely easy, but sometimes it does seem harder than others. My own personal experience this year has driven that truth home to my heart. In some respects, it has been more difficult for me to keep to my partial fast this year than it was for me to keep to a liquids only fast last year...!

I find that really amazing...

There may well be some physiological reason involved. I do know that drinking only water for extended periods of time last year purged my body of a lot of toxins and was a great boon to my health. After the third day, which I always find the hardest in a total fast, accompanied as it usually is by a headache (which I rarely ever experience otherwise), and feeling really, really lousy overall, once my digestive tract shut down, I felt really, really good. If I suddenly felt weak, an occasional glass of low-sodium variety V8 juice or a chicken buillion cube dissolved in a cup of boiling water did the trick. My sleep seemed much deeper and more peaceful; my mind felt exceptionally clear; my spirit became ever more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit; and even the rosacea on my face began clearing up.

I am about the farthest thing from an extreme health food nut you can imagine, but after seeing such dramatic changes in my own body last year, I am absolutely convinced the nutritionists have it right when they say fasting is good for your health. The ten pounds I kept off my waistline when it was over seemed like a little bonus from God thrown in on top of all the other benefits! (Smile!)

The funny thing is that it seemed much easier last year to forgo food entirely than it is for me this year to fast certain days, skip certain meals, and avoid certain kinds of food. Maybe that is because my digestive tract had completely shut down last time and my stomach had adopted to a completely new rhythmn, but I also think there was a spiritual dynamic involved.

You see, last year I sensed a very clear, inner conviction from the Lord that I should fast the entire time. In my own spirit it was something like a line drawn in the sand before my flesh and the devil, too. As I obeyed the Lord and stood firm on that line, I felt tremendous inner strength and resources from Him flowing into my being. This year, I undertook my fast simply out of a desire to seek the Lord more passionately and with greater focus during these 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. After an initial period of water only, this year I felt a clear release in my spirit to begin eating certain things again at specific times, and to fast the rest of the time.

Comparing my two experiences, I have about come to the conclusion that it is easier for me to fast when I do so in response to what I perceive to be a clear directive from the Lord, than when I do so as part of my personal practice of biblical, spiritual disciplines, but, one thing is sure, both kinds of fasting have brought great blessing to my life. This year, I have particularly enjoyed drifting off to sleep with Max Maclean's reading of the NIV Bible playing through the ear plugs of the new Ipod the staff gave me for Christmas. What sweet, sweet times of spiritual communion I have already had, and what precious, fresh revelation from God's Word...! Wow...! Beginning each New Year with these 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting have turned out to be like the line from that old soft drink commercial, "It's the pause that refreshes...!" Of course, the fact that so many precious people here in our church body are seeking God in a special way, and are undoubtedly whispering a few extra prayers on my behalf is bound to be helping a lot, too!

I would love to hear how it is going with you. Click on "Comments" at the end of this post and you will be taken to a window where you can share your thoughts and experiences during this spiritual journey we are taking together. There is no need to sign in or create a blogger identity unless you just want to. The system will let you post entries anonymously, if you wish.

I look forward to hearing from you!


Pastor Mark

1 comment:

  1. Mark,
    It's funny you should mention TV at today's service. My wife and I started a TV fast on Jan. 1st and have stuck to it to so far.

    We've actually gone without the TV before and although it eventually nudged its way back into our daily life, every time we've done a TV fast it has been rewarding.

    With the antenna unplugged we suddenly found two or three more hours in our day. This is time we've spent any number of ways, not the least of which is spending more time with each other and, of course, with the Lord.

    Once one cuts off a time waster as great as television you very quickly begin to realize how much time is spent in front of the idiot box every day.

    Of course, like you, I have nothing against television itself. I find it to be a very practical and entertaining invention - maybe too much so! I even used to work in television production, but in most American homes I've been in it's placed prominantly, like a centerpiece, in the largest room of the house. I feel this speaks volumes (ha ha) about the way many of, including yours truly, prioritize and construct our day-to-day activities.

    So, if one has difficulty with moderation when it comes to something like TV viewing, then cutting it off completely - if even for just a little while - may be the next best thing.

    For us, as I said before, we've found more time - quality time - to interact with each other, our baby girl, and God - not to mention time for other projects and other forms of entertainment that are just as fun - if not more so - than television.

    Anyway, that's my take on this particular form of fasting. Yes, we'll probably turn the TV on again someday, but I think we may go a bit longer than three weeks. It has certainly been nice to take a break from the TV for awhile.

    Now if I can only tear myself away from this keyboard someday!

    -Dale Scheihagen