A fasting diary

Tonight, I’m beginning a 24-hour fast. I’m in a period of my life where I desperately need His counsel and His comfort. I’ve been in a drought with friendships. I’ve been feeling unworthy. I feel like I’m in a desert without direction, desperate to see the future but trying to trust it will be revealed in God’s timing. I hope that during this period, I will be absorbing His guidance, both in prayer and in Scripture. I want to feel His presence instead of searching for others to defeat my loneliness. I’m never alone.
Every pastor in my life is quick to point out that Jesus said not “if,” but “when” you should fast, but I’ve never had fasting modeled for me consistently. I’m working to incorporate it more into my life, practicing the habit of correcting every hunger pang with prayer and worship. The goal with this article is to show that fasting is accessible. It is not reserved for the oh so religious, but is for those who have committed to following Jesus and seeking His guidance over their lives. It’s a practice that draws us closer to Him, and I hope you are encouraged by this diary to incorporate it more into your walk.

Tuesday, March 21, approximately 8:00 PM

I had never fasted before college. I hadn’t really understood the point, and I didn’t have anyone that modeled it for me. When my friends and I would talk, we spoke about it with awe and reverence because it just seemed so religious. And people today really don’t participate in religious rituals anymore. It became more of a lofty goal: if we were oh so religiou one day, we would make it a practice, because it’s just so good for you. I admired the practice without really understanding it.

I feel like my understanding of fasting has evolved enormously since that time. Before, I understood it to be discipline for the sake of discipline. Under that pretense, fasts from sugar and social media, which were more popularly practiced by people around me, made sense. Social media especially made sense because with all that time saved, one could reorient themselves towards God, utilizing that time for prayer and reflection. Indeed, it’s really useful. It’s practically self-care. It’s productive. God knows that there are things—good things in my life—I may be called to sacrifice so that I can spend my day in my natural state, worshiping and communicating with my heavenly Father.

Fasting from food, though, seemed a bit extreme. I wondered why Scripture would encourage us to sacrifice something that nourished the bodies God had given us. Food gives us strength, makes us more amicable, and saves others from the receiving end of our moodiness. What was so essential about food to the practice of fasting?

A pastor put it to me this way: fasting from social media and other unhelpful habits is good. It creates meaningful space to read Scripture, pray, and think of the things above. But fasting from food creates a longing. Our bodies simply can’t do without food as it can without other material things. Both types of fasts are certainly sacrificial and admirable, but fasting from food is about weakening ourselves. And that’s terrifying. Weakness is terrifying.

But I’m comforted by the fact that God already knows me in my weakness. To humble myself in this way is to remind myself that God is so much stronger and has sovereignty over my life. He is my sustenance and Bread of Life (John 6:35). And in my period of longing, my prayer is that I will long for and turn towards the only One who can satiate every desire.

9:03 PM

No joke, my friend offered to buy me Tea-Do the second I finished typing the previous section. She knows I had a bad day. For now, it’s easy to say “no,” but I’m grateful for her kindness.

10:37 PM

Meeting other Christians on campus is amazing. You think your circle is so small, that you know every other Christian there is to know. But God′s kingdom just shows up unsuspectedly sometimes. On a discouraging night, I got to meet two Christians whom I had never met before. Even better, they knew about the Epistle and were encouraged by it. God is so good. Sometimes you sow seeds, and you don′t get to see their fruit. Tonight, I’m thankful God revealed to me the fruit.

Wednesday, March 23, 12:50 AM

How God blesses me and turns my mood around. How He has gifted me today with the sense to thank Him.

1:44 AM

I’m never up this late normally, but tonight I just was. Studying with friends ran late, and I was inspired to come back and read my Bible—1 Corinthians 14 and part of 15. I’ve been in Corinthians lately for no reason other than it felt right. Right before I started reading, though, I realized I was hungry. I just tried to open my Bible and feed myself with Scripture. But I’m still hungry, and now I have questions. 1 Corinthians 14 is about spiritual gifts—talk about a tough passage. Paul’s point is that certain gifts are very useful for the edification of the Church. It makes me wonder about the ways I’m contributing to my community. I think the only way to make my contributions as pure and as selfless as possible is to desire God first. The fruits will come from there. 

But I’m going to sleep. Goodnight. 

Skipping coffee tomorrow is going to suck.

8:44 AM

This morning, I learned a new definition of “hangry.” Normal “hangry” is waiting at a restaurant for your food and dwelling in the anticipation that any second, the plate will come around. But this morning, I’m just hungry and angry. I’m trying hard to redirect myself, open my Bible, begin in prayer. Yet, there’s still a part of me that prefers to remain angry. How silly.

9:13 AM

I finished 1 Corinthians, and I’m noticing how at ease I am reading my Bible. How still. It feels like Psalm 46:10: be still and know that I am God. Just contemplating God and who He is. Trying to understand the plan He has for my poor, decrepit, sinful body. I read today,

So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
—1 Corinthians 15:42-44

My state of weakness is temporary. 

11:50 AM

It was difficult to stay focused as I was working this morning. I attended office hours and presented many incoherent questions to my professor. And I’m tired. Sacrifices have consequences. 

I think there’s a part of us that always hopes when we do something pleasing to God, like praying for someone, serving someone, partaking in the spiritual disciplines, that He will in turn bless us. As if it makes us deserving of something. I think part of me is longing for a miraculous answer to my prayers today. That God would provide the very thing I want. And I have to remember even so that it definitely would not be a result of this. It would be grace, all grace. And if nothing special occurs today, that is not not grace. It’s trusting that God is pleased with me and that, in lowering myself, I can see Him more clearly. 

5:13 PM

I had a couple classes. Went alright. But I’m struggling with my hunger…

Thursday, March 25, 1:46 PM

I broke my fast that night by having dinner with a friend. I truly felt like eating everything in my fridge. I was literally fantasizing about recipes, about the different stray foods in my fridge that might taste good on a plate together. I was so shocked about how the things we can’t have are the things we think about the most. Truly, that was a theme of the week for me.
This period of fasting stuck with me through the rest of my week as a reminder that despite my need for some things, I actually have everything. Honestly, I am wealthy. The Lord who created the heavens and the earth and saved me from death is on my side. Even in my crappy week, I had a stillness of mind that wasn’t very familiar to me. It’s as Paul says,

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
—Philippians 4:12b-13

I feel like I have definitely been brought low this week, both in choosing to humble myself before God by fasting and in the ways He has taken the reins to humble me. But this isn’t disconnected from contentment. If anything, it’s directly linked. When reminded of our longings, such as in fasting, we are reminded of how we have everything in Christ Jesus.

I hope this diary was encouraging to you. It wasn’t a pretty day, or a pretty week. But I believe the Holy Spirit was with me. If you are able to make fasting a practice in your life, I would ask you to consider it. We can work together to become more regular with it, recognizing it’s not a practice where you gain anything for yourself. It’s all about Him, and how He is so much higher than us.

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