I was disturbed when I heard about a Christian `woman who died while fasting . Her goal was to go without eating for 40 days. She passed away on day 23. No doubt she was attempting to emulate Jesus, who fasted for 40 days in the wilderness according to Matthew chapter 4.
Proverbs chapter 4 verse 7 tells us: Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. A little wisdom and understanding may have saved that woman’s life.
A former pastor of mine, the late Bishop Antonio D Thomas gave what I consider to be sound wisdom regarding fasting. He told us that the elderly and individuals on medication should not try to do a complete fast from food and drink for long periods.
He explained that fasting was removing yourself from something, and giving yourself unto something else.. He pointed out that the purpose of a Christian fasting is to draw nigh unto the Lord. And if you simply missed a meal without prayer and talking to the Heavenly Father then you were just on a diet. The entire congregation cracked up upon hearing this.
Bishop Thomas let us know that fasting did not necessarily have to be food. He said we could fast from television, the telephone or any activity we chose. But to make sure we gave the time to God. He also said that when you break the fast you should eat something light, so you do not overload your system.
I recall several of us would not eat on Wednesday’s until after we had attended noon day prayer. We spent the morning being quiet and prayerful. We would listen to worship music, and not do a lot of talking to family and friends. We drank water or a little cranberry juice.
When the noon day prayer was stopped, I found other ways to fast. I once went 7 days without watching television. On another occasion I did not eat red meat or drink soda for 10 days.
There have also been times I would choose an hour in the day and not answer the phone watch TV or do any housework. During that one hour I would be in intense prayer. On other occasions I would not read newspapers or books or watch secular television programs for 3 days periods. I would only read my bible and watch Christian TV.
One church I attended asked members to not eat until after 6:00 p.m. for 40 days. And it was stressed that if you were on medication you should eat, and perhaps give up a meal of your choice, based on your personal situation.
I find that when I fast that I am more in tune to the spiritual. I often get feelings about things that are about to happen or warnings of impending danger.Sometimes an idea will come that solves a problem.
I know people who skip eating on their lunch break at work. They use their 30 minutes or hour to pray and read the bible. I have cousins who abstain from red meat and caffeine during the 40 days of Lent which lead to Easter Sunday.
I have Facebook friends who will fast from Facebook and other social networks for days or even weeks. Remember the purpose is to pull away from a regular activity and give the time to the Lord. The bible tells us that Jesus often pulled away from His disciples and the crowds. He went alone into the mountains to pray.
However you choose to fast, please be safe. If you are determined to do a long term fast from food and water, please check with your physician. There is a saying that when you do not know the purpose of a thing you will abuse it. Consider that in one such case the abuse cot a young woman her life.