Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Last Fasting Day

And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. ~Matthew 4:2

I have never fasted forty days, not even thirty. I think my longest had been fourteen or fifteen days. (Update: About six months after publishing this post, I began a 40-day fast.)

I have this tradition of fasting for a week or so every January. I did not feel a specific calling to fast by my Lord this time, but it still heightens one's spirituality and I do have much on my heart for other people right now...a friend's husband was let go from his job just before Christmas, a Christian marriage of seventeen years heading for divorce with children, a friend's daughter is readying herself to be a missionary in Chile, many church members with various injuries and health conditions, the people suffering after the earthquake in Haiti, changes with my husband's job, and the Princess...there is never enough prayer time to devote to her alone.

I fast in January because I do indulge myself with wild abandonment during the holidays. I believe in wholehearted feasting at times, eating treats and rich foods and a bit more than I usually do of everything, but I also believe in practicing famine at other times. After all, it has been the natural course of human existence since Adam and Eve left Eden. Plus, many studies suggest that fasting prolongs youthful qualities, and promotes longevity as well as fosters physical healing on a deeper level of even old injuries or illnesses. Studies have proven it heightens the human growth hormone (HGH) naturally; this hormone among other things encourages the building of muscle mass and reducing fat. All this may happen because the body is not busy with the digestive process and can focus on rejuvenation.

After holiday feasting, I find I have gained usually five to nine pounds, about seven this year, and I retain cravings for daily cookies and candies. Fasting breaks food cravings and I lose weight, usually one pound per day until I reach a certain weight and then it usually goes down to half a pound or less a day, the body's natural way of lowering metabolism to preserve itself,...but every fast is different. This time I lost more than one pound a day and that resulted in being weaker than usual. However, now all those little aches and pains have disappeared and I am very relaxed.

This fast was to be a water-only, although I did have hot tea and lemon water, because I tend to get cold easily on fasts, particularly in the winter. On a couple of days I had about two ounces of raw milk in the morning as I was a bit weaker and within an hour I had more energy. I planned to fast today as my last day, but since I lost more weight than I had hoped to do, I am will be taking liquids with more substance like milk and broth throughout the day to start stimulating digestion.

Tomorrow I will begin eating small amounts of raw foods. It is important to coax the digestive tract back into doing its usual work when coming off a fast of more than three days. It is likely that I will still lose weight, although more slowly, until I am eating normally in three or four days.

My husband at times does a one day on and one day off fast, as he has to work during his fasts. It serves him well and he gets similar benefits in the long run. I also fast one day every week: Wednesday's Child is Full of Woe

Fasting is a discipline. It is something that one should read about before doing it for more than a day or two. I have been practicing fasting for nearly 20 years, so I am well aware of how my body responses and the spiritual, physical, and emotional benefits. Here are a few sources of good information:

7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting and Prayer
Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer

Some other benefits:
  • The taste of food when I come off a fast is...indescribable! Vegetables are quite sweet, so I don't even crave sugar.
  • My digestion is more efficient so I can eat less and not only be filled but get more nutrition out of the food I eat.
  • I maintain my weight so that I am comfortable, energetic, and can wear many of the clothes I have had for over twenty years.
  • It saves money on clothing for the above reason and in groceries.
  • My skin always looks years younger whenever I come off a week-long or longer fast.
  • My body is more flexible and even pains in joints with old injuries disappear.

Another benefit and a warning of sorts: Many toxins are stored in body fat. When you fast, you are using stored fat to sustain the body so these toxins will be released, which is why it is important to drink fluids to flush them out. Certain toxins can cause irritations once they are released, which is another reason a person should begin with short fasts and work up to longer ones and beginning with juice fasts are easier for the beginner also. However, I feel that if the Lord calls you to fast, you should do so however He is leading you.

My Lord, so many things are on my heart right now that I can hardly verbalize them, but You know all our needs and you know my heart. Please, hear what I cannot say and provide what I do not know is needed.

4 comments:

  1. I think fasting is an important & too often neglected spiritual discipline. I've been doing some 1/2 day fasts again. I don't like to when I'm travelling a lot. A light~headed driver isn't safe & it takes me a while to sort out my rythmn when I am in a position to fast regularly. I make a point though if I really have somehing on my mind I need to thrash out with God.

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  2. Hi - I wanted to stop by and say thank you for your kind and encouraging words on my blog. I love what you said about never being at the beginning or the end. That is so true! Thankfully, my body is on the mend and I'm feeling much better. I managed to get a lot done today without overdoing it. I'm ready to get back to my routines though!

    About fasting - I like your approach. Many people at my church as well as many others take part in the Daniel Fast (21 day fast every January.) Not all of them go without food for the entire 21 days, they each set their own goals. For some, it's not even food, it may be TV or something like that. I wasn't even in the right place in my mind at the beginning of January to put something in place for myself, so I didn't do a fast at all. After reading what you've written here, I'm looking at things differently. I tried a fast last fall and didn't do well at all. I only lasted about 3 days. However, I did manage to break my addiction to caffeine, so I think that's good! (I still drink some caffeine, but I don't NEED it anymore! - I can get through the day without it without getting a headache now!) Anyway, I like your idea of fasting one day a week and think that might be something I may consider implementing in my life. I really like your perspective on this and many other things. You are an inspiration!

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  3. Seeking: I've come back to check out the links, which I didn't do first time round. They are very good & most helpful. I was hoping the weekend would be the 2nd 3 day fast but I think I have too much happening, including a long drive, but will do Thursday this week I think. I think the Lord wants me to do a longer one again but He needs to provide the window! lol.

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.