We have entered in the season of fasting. Last week saw the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan by Moslems. Today at sunset, the Jews will enter into a 24-hour fast for Yom Kippur. Even my church had a special fasting service today to seek God's guidance, in acquiring a building of our own.
Fasting is one of the oldest spiritual exercises of the world, and is quite universal across religions. It is a way for people to connect intimately with God, in a way plain prayer cannot do. When we fast, we put away all worldly desires, even the desire for food, and just focus upon God and His power. People who are uninitiated in fasting often ask, "Don't you get hungry?" The answer is NO! Fasting that is done properly, where the focus is totally on God, does not produce hunger. That is the major difference between fasting and a hunger strike. In a hunger strike, people do feel hungry, but they ignore their hunger for some greater good. In a fast, one might have fleeting moments of hunger, but that feeling soon dissipates when one re-focuses one's mind back on God.
In our American culture, there is an inbuilt fear of fasting. We are so afraid of feeling hungry, that we conjure up in our imaginations that bad things will happen to our bodies if we fast. This is so far from the truth. As a matter of fact, it is the constant consumption of food that tends more towards disease and weakness than anything else. Constantly eating and not allowing the body to rest overburdens the digestive system and weakens it. The body becomes filled with waste matter from too much eating, and if the waste matter is allowed to remain in the system, it can become toxic to the system. Fasting allows the body's digestive system to rest, and allows the body to clean itself of the build-up of waste matter. While your body is being healed in this manner, your mind is also being healed as your focus is shifted from the earthly to the heavenly.
Fasting that is combined with meditation is most effective in accomplishing healing and spiritual wellness. When you meditate, you reflect upon God's goodness, and in those quiet times, you can sometimes hear the voice of God speaking to your heart. You can feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and you learn how to be still and listen to the wisdom that is from above. It then becomes a truly spiritual experience, where heaven meets with earth, where God meets with man, where the Immortal meets with the mortal. You will feel refreshed, revived, and invigorated, and ready to face the challenges of the day.
Let us therefore learn how to make fasting not just a ritual we do, but a spiritual exercise and experience where we can draw closer to God.