Thursday, April 13, 2017

Post 93


Note:  Seek professional advice and help prior to any decision to fast.

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a person who had just completed  a planned fast.  For a set period of time, she continuously stayed on a liquid diet – juices and water with no other food intake.  She was jubilant!  She had kept her fast and the results were what she had planned for – and hoped. 

To curb urges for the harmful elements from which she was abstaining, preparations were first made: appropriate advice and help were obtained and followed.  To be sure, this is essential.  Any  fasting needs to be thoroughly thought through, prepared for, and followed – including professional medical advice and approval.   Additionally, she had sought out her pastor’s knowledge about fasting and had gained spiritual insight prior to – and throughout her fast.

Following this conversation, I thought back to two experiences I had had with regard to fasting … no, there had never before been a purposeful fast.  Yes, I had stayed off food when ailing from stomach unrest; and yes, I do abstain from certain foods when I feel a headache coming on.  Oh, and yes, I’ve “dieted” – but there was no spiritual motivation involved.  However, there were two experiences that have sparked inspiration within me.  First, quite some time ago, I read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.  Particularly, his chapter on the topic of fasting intrigued me.  I never followed up – in action – but over the years, there was much food for thought  to digest from that chapter.  Second, a person, who had noticed how limited I was able to move about during an extraordinary flare-up of sciatica, said that he was fasting for me in order that I might receive healing.  Actually, I did recover from that painful bout; and the memory of his statement reminds me every so often about this special spiritual discipline.  

In fact, last week the memory popped up again.  Then a friend emailed me that this week would most likely be a particularly hard one.  I promised that I would pray for her; and suddenly, the idea of fasting presented me with a challenge – and an invitation.  

So this week, I am following a modified fast-and-pray discipline.  The “modified” aspect of the fast is that it is not a liquid only or a no-food plan.  Rather, I will eat three meals each day (no matter what) with very precise portions (no seconds), eliminate snacks completely, and drink LOTS of water.  For a snack-or and an eat-all-you’re-in-the-mood-for  (because you most likely skipped a meal) person,  this modified regimen has turned out to be an interesting – and convicting - discipline. Moreover, throughout each day, I am praying for my friend.

So far, I am discovering several elemental benefits from this limited fast – some a surprise – that I should have already expected!

·        I do not miss the snacks … and when mini-hunger feelings strike, they pass by quickly

·        The seconds are not missed.  Even as portion sizes are carefully calculated, the limited meal is just enough.

·        No desserts, period.

·        The regimen of these predictably, limited meals generates a feeling of self-control that, in turn, generates a broader sense of stability.

·        Pervasively, knowing that I am following this personal discipline for a spiritual reason brings an element of joy into the discipline of limitation.

·        Praying for my friend is in the midst of everything … there is an overall sense of being blanketed in prayer  - as I am blanketing her in prayer.

·        It’s not about “I can’t eat anything I want or as much as I want.”     Instead, it’s  I can do this … and I’m already enjoying the benefits and blessings!”

·        AND it is because I am counting on God to guide me through this week, I am able to know, with assurance, that there are and will be joys – and spiritual depth -  throughout this week for my friend … and me.

In closing, I am wondering how this same approach of spiritual discipline (whether it be fasting or another form of spirituality) could go a long way for persons already in recovery but who are feeling the tug of triggers to return to previous addictive behaviors

Once more, for those curious about and interested in fasting, consult your physician first. 

Remember: recovery is physical, emotional, social, mental, relational, and spiritual!


Rev. Janet Jacobs CCGSO
Founding Director
Gambling Recovery Ministries

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