Sunday, September 14, 2008

Concluding the Fasting

One week ago, at church, Pastor Scot Longyear challenged the congregation to a one-week fast, based upon the teaching of Jesus. His challenge was not necessarily that we fast for the entire week, if we felt we couldn't fast for such a period of time, but that we observe some sort of fasting for the week (actually eight days) from last Sunday until this Sunday evening.

That fast has now ended, and I wanted to share my experience, and my thoughts, with you here.

I chose to observe two types of fasting over the week. First, and this might seem simple, but I chose to abstain from all forms of commercially prepared and packaged soft drinks for the entire week. My wife and I drink quite a bit of Coke Zero, and I felt that this would be depriving myself of a drink that I enjoy very much. I did not allow myself any form of commercially prepared or packaged soft drinks. In fact, I drank only coffee, water, milk, and Kool-Aid. It could be argued that Kool-Aid is a commercially prepared soft drink, but based on the fact that it's just flavoring in a packet that has to be combined with sugar and water in the home, and the final product was not commercially packaged, I allowed myself Kool-Aid on two occasions during the week.

Second, I chose to fast completely from any type of food from midnight until dinner time every day (skipping breakfast, lunch, and all snacks in between). Furthermore, I did not allow myself to have dinner until after 6:00 pm, making the daily fasting period at least eighteen hours long. I began my soft drink fast first thing Sunday morning, and began the meal fast on Sunday evening.

I have tried to fast before for a full day, and have only succeeded on one occasion. It's not an easy thing to do, and takes a great deal of determination and commitment. This week's fast took the same type of commitment, as I had to discipline myself to follow some very strict rules about eating and drinking every day for a full week. Now, I know that there are some people in the world who have to follow stricter rules about eating without choice, simply because they don't have the resources that I have. That's the point: to deprive myself of something by choice, for the purpose of learning discipline and getting closer to God.

How did I get closer to God by fasting? Because I could not have done it without Him. By doing it for Him (because He says "when" you fast, not if), and relying on Him to give me the strength to get through it, I found myself calling upon Him to help me through the tough times. The toughest of which was today.

It was an interesting and valued experience. I will certainly do it again in the future, and probably place stricter rules upon myself.

This week's fast was to end with a special Communion service at church. Our old church in Terre Haute, that is. As the price of gasoline skyrocketed in the wake of Hurricane Ike, my wife and I decided to continue our church shopping here in Indianapolis rather than making the ninety minute drive back to Terre Haute. We decided to continue our fast until the time that we would have taken Communtion (approximately 7:00 pm).

I am happy to report that we may very well have found ourselves a new church home in Indianapolis. We both left there feeling that we may just be done with our search finally. More on that tomorrow, I hope.

Jesus Christ on Fasting:
"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

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