When I was much younger, having had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home, anytime a period of fasting came up, it became a much dreaded subject in my heart. I never clearly articulated a thought in my heart against it, but I surely didn’t like it. I mean, ‘starve’ myself of food, good Lord, that wasn’t a good idea (actually, it means to temporarily deny yourself, but try explaining it to me then). I remember one time, my mother told us we were going to fast, so my older sister and I came up with a genius plan, we decided to stay up late that night. Yup, you guessed it, we went into the kitchen at about 2am and ate us a sumptuous meal, boy did that feel good. Needless to say, we were ready to starve… Sorry, fast.
Then I got saved, of course I still didn’t receive immediate enlightenment on the subject, so I kept fasting, occasionally, at least that’s what Christians did right.
Over time, I’ve realised that often during a fasting period, be it from midnight till noon, or till 6pm or for three days straight, no matter the duration, one’s guard is always up. We are often conscious of our right-standing with God at such moments. If one always lied or cheated or insulted others without giving it a second thought, during these spiritual exercises, we find ourselves putting on the brakes on such behaviours. Even lusts (intense emotional desire) of all kinds are often at an all time low. People don’t want to ‘”spoil” their fasting’ with such acts, so it’s more like they put it in a cooler to preserve it until their fast is over and they can unleash their suppressed feelings to go wild again in a TGIF-over fit (Thank God It’s Fast-over).
I’m certainly not an authority on the subject, so I won’t try to establish or suggest types and kinds of fasting, or anything of the sort. However, here’s what I do understand: I like to think of the soul as a recording membrane that documents impulses and activities. In my mind, it is stationed between the spirit and body. So, anytime there’s an impulse from the body (physical realm) it documents it, that’s why – at least for the most part – we remember what happened to us yesterday or last week, and anytime there’s an impulse from our spirits (the spiritual realm) it documents it. But, since after the fall of man, I believe we lost our capacity to easily detect and receive impulses and signals from our spirits, that’s why we’ve now come to rely on our physical senses for about all that we do. What I understand fasting to do is to simply shut down distracting impulses from our bodies in order for us to heighten sensitivity from our spirit. It’s to sharpen our spiritual antennas and receptivity of spiritual activities.
My most respected mentor and spiritual father, Jesutomi Bakare puts it this way, ‘Prayer is reaching out to the unseen, fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen and confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.’
Since everytime we fast, we deepen our focus on God such that we let go of desires that hold us back from Him and even our sinful lusts, I believe we can get so in love with God such that on every waking morning, He consumes our minds and constitutes the bulk of our thinking so much that we don’t even give our lusts a second thought. This in no way suggests that we grow to a point where we think we don’t need to fast again, but rather, remain connected to Him that everyday becomes a fasting.
Yours with a quill
Image from www.kairoscanada.org