Today is the last day of a 20-day Daniel Fast, and if you know my history with fasting, that's a pretty big deal. Basically I don't fast. And when I've tried, most of them ended early. I had a headache. I couldn't concentrate. I got irritable. I forgot and started eating. (Yes, that happened more than once.)
And so it's a little weird that I'm sitting here reflecting on the fact that the fast is nearly complete. I'm definitely not bragging, even though it might sound like it. Not with a history like mine.
I've tried to figure out why the Bible assumes fasting. And it does. It doesn't say, "If you decide to fast . . ." Not, it says, "When you fast . . ."
Basically, I came up with a few reasons, but ultimately, this is about obedience for me. The Holy Spirit has been nudging me toward fasting for some time now, and it just seemed good to do what he suggested. (It always is a good thing, but sometimes I hesitate. And sometimes logic gets set aside in favor of faith.
And so now we're at the end, and when I typed the words, they sound so final. Tomorrow we return to "normal" eating, whatever that is. And right now I'm thinking about what that should be.
Given that our diet has been totally healthy and mostly delicious and we haven't felt deprived most of the time, I want to reflect on the significance of this fast. I mean, fasting means giving something up, normally food, and it involves some sacrifice.
Certainly there's been a sacrifice of time. Preparing tasty food and inventing menus and recipes to fit the specifications of this eating plan take time. And creativity. And then there's the clean-up. I've been a big fan of the pre-made meals you can buy at Costco.
But, we've eaten breakfast every day. One day we even sat down with Caitlin and had oatmeal together at the dining room table. We have healthy foods in the cabinets. And when I buy fruits and vegetables, we eat them before they go bad. All those are good things.
And we've had dinner, although sometimes that consisted of rice cakes and peanut butter and raw veggies on the side. We've discovered brown rice crackers, and we like them.
Still, it's not about that. This isn't just an eating plan. We had spiritual reasons for fasting. Here are some of the spiritual benefits:
- Just as I've become more aware of the food I eat, I've also become more aware of the Holy Spirits voice, prompting me to pray, prompting me to forgive, prompting me to spend time in God's Word.
- Additional preparation and planning has kept me focused. Not just with meals, but with other areas of my life. I'm waking earlier. I'm more organized.
- I have recognized unhealthy patterns in my life. Certainly, I have recognized unhealthy eating patterns, but others as well. Right now we're considering whether or not we want to resume drinking coffee, for example.
Definitely this is a different type of fasting, and I'm still reluctant to stop eating for an extensive period of time. (I think I'm good with a day, but I'll have to hear from God on this one. It really isn't what I think I can do in my own power, but what God asks me to do in his power.)
Apparently Newbreak is planning an all-church fast during Lent so I'm excited to revisit fasting again. Not sure what I'll give up then, but we shall see.