“Hey YOU! Be Quiet and Calm Down!”
Back in my seminary days I had to take an introductory class on the spiritual disciplines. We followed a well-known book by Richard Foster on the different disciplines called “Celebration of Discipline.“ It was a great eye-opening class on the different disciplines Christians can and should undertake and the ways each discipline invites us into a deeper faith.
I think it was probably the first time I had heard about fasting as a regular ‘discipline’ that Christians are called to. Until this point, I only knew of fasting for a few passages in Scripture here and there that I largely overlooked.
As part of this class, we had to create a year-long plan of how we would try out the different disciplines and implement them. Bible reading, worship, solitude, worship, simplicity… they all sounded easy enough. But fasting? BUT FASTING? Ugh. I wasn’t so sure about that one.
But I included in my plan. My ambitious goal:
One day a week.
One week a month.
One 40-day fast a year.
Everything I read said to train up for it. So I used my one-day-a-week days to teach my brain that it is actually okay to feel ‘hungry.’ Like seriously. It’s okay. You just tell your stomach, “Hey you, be quiet and calm down. You can make it a day,” while also telling the Lord, “I hunger for you more than that food. Be my bread.”
My one-week-a-month became great training in planning for a fast. I learned to look ahead at the calendar, not buy groceries and try to use up food in the fridge that might go back during the week. I also learned that physical hunger pretty much subsides by day 3, followed by an amazing amount of energy. The first 3 days were always the hardest!! After that, easy. All the while saying, “Lord, I hunger for you more than that food. Be my bread.”
But I still had that 40-day fast lingering over my head. Could I do it??? After almost a year into my little experiment, I official made the plans for the BIG ONE. Lent. Only, I learned that for Lent, it’s actually 47 days! And Sundays are free. Any fast taken on, you get to break on Sundays. So that’s what I did. Six days of nothing, and eating on Sundays.
I made it through (barely), but I learned a few great lessons in the midst of it:
1. It is doable. Seriously.
2. In my fleshes weakened state, God REALLY DOES make His great strength known—just like His Word promises to. HE DOESN’T LIE.
3. It takes some planning and some practice.
4. I don’t know if I’d do it again, but…
That brings me to this year. I haven’t done a long fast since then—just random two- or three-day stuff here and there when I need to hear from God.
I feel wimpy.
WHAT IF God doesn’t give me strength to do it again?!
I sound like the Israelites, fresh out Egypt, right after crossing the Red Sea, whining for food because they don’t believe God will follow through with His promises (EVEN THOUGH THEY JUST SAW THE MIRACULOUS).
Anyhow, I’m thinking about it for Lent. My amazing husband has been regularly doing 40-day fasts yearly and I think I might join him this year.
Director of Worship & Media