I’ll go ahead and admit it right off the bat, I’m a lousy “faster”. In other words, I don’t handle living on bread and water even for one day very well. I could list all my excuses, but excuses tend to get boring real quick. Yet, there are so many places in scripture that recommend fasting, in addition to prayer, as supplication to God that I can’t deny that fasting is a powerful opportunity. In the scene where the disciples attempted to cast out a devil, but they could not, Jesus said to them: “But this kind is not cast out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matt.xvii 17-20)
I read the daily horror stories about ISIS and the dreadful persecution of Christians in the Middle East and other places around the world, and I am filled with a desire to do something to help. But as a widowed mother with eight children – I don’t have a lot of options. I teach my children in the hopes that they will become better skilled to carry the light of Christ’s love into the world in various roles, and I write books to bring hope and light to darkened imaginations and consciences, but as for the actual people being beheaded, burned, and whatever new terror evil has unleashed recently, I don’t have much to offer except my prayers…and that fasting thing.
So despite my shaky fasting history, I have decided not to give up on the idea. After all God is an out-of-the-box-thinker, I might try approaching fasting from a fresh perspective. If I am too weak to fast all day on bread and water, why not try a part of a day? Even a few hours or a single meal? And there are other things I can fast from besides just food. How about fasting from irritating habits that annoy the people around me – even though I don’t think anyone really should be annoyed – just give it up! Or how about fasting from fantasies and fears which in no way enlighten the soul. Or fasting from vanity? Fasting from gossip? Fasting from comforts that have become “needs”. Fasting from indulging in hate, reviewing past injuries, plotting the perfect revenge, being consumed by bitterness, immersing my soul in self-pity…
Come to think about it, I may not be such a bad “faster” – perhaps I’ve just never really given it a try.