In today’s post, we wrap up this series on fasting. We have already looked at what fasting is, why it is practiced, what fasting is not, how it is connected to prayer, and what fasting accomplishes in our lives. Today, we will cover a few of the practical logistics related to fasting. Just a few suggestions – and a few precautions as well:
(1) When we talk about fasting, food can be dangerous. Be wise with health issues and fasting. If you have a diet-related health problem, you probably should not fast from food. If you have diabetes, or issues with blood pressure – if you have thyroid problems, or any other health issues related to metabolism or digestion – you probably should not fast from food.
If you have anything like that, and yet you still feel the Lord is calling you to fast from a certain food or meal, it would be wise to speak with your physician first to make certain it would be physically safe for you to do so.
Alright, those things may be obvious – but – let’s drive this a little deeper. Can we have some real-talk for a minute?
(2) If you have an issue with food that is not physical or health-related – if you have an issue with food related to body image – or related to how food contributes to your mental or emotional sense of control – if you have any kind of eating disorder – please – let me strongly urge you NOT to fast from a food or a meal.
Fasting from food can be dangerous if you have ever struggled with an eating disorder.
Instead, choose an activity fast from – choose a time-stealer like Instagram or Google or Facebook. Maybe there is some mindless game you play too often on your iPad or iPhone – give that up for this season to make more room for connecting with God in your daily life.
Remember: the real purpose of fasting is to create new space in your daily life for connecting with God, and you certainly don’t have to give up food to accomplish that. The focus of fasting is very rarely the actual fast itself, but the spiritual activities that replace the vacant time created in your life by fasting. So, choose an activity to fast from instead of a food or meal.
A few more suggestions and cautions for you:
(3) Listen to your body. If you are fasting from a food or a meal, and you begin to feel dehydrated, or sick, or like you may faint – break your fast, and eat something – it’s okay.
Remember: fasting is not for God, it’s for us, and if you need to temporarily break your fast in order to maintain your own physical health, it is totally fine (and wise!) to do so.
(4) Lastly, people are more important than your fast.
My birthday is in early March, which means it falls during Lent – every single year. One year, I gave up desserts for Lent, and like Matthew 6:16-18 teaches, I wasn’t telling anyone about it. My Grandmother made my most favorite chocolate cake for my birthday. And she served it to me, at her house, on my birthday! This cake was her birthday gift to me, because she knew how much I loved it!
Well you know what I did: I ate the cake! I honored my Grandmother and enjoyed her gift to me. And that was the only dessert I had during Lent that year, so it was especially good!
The point is, honoring the person is more important than honoring the fast. And remember: it is not the fast that is so important, but what you are using the fasting time to do to connect your spirit with God’s that matters most. So if you need to temporarily break your fast in order to honor a person in your life, it is totally fine (and wise) to do so.
Other Links on Fasting: