I have spent the last few months reading an amazing book called:
Fasting for Spiritual Break Through - A Guide To Nine Biblical Fasts by: Elmer L. Towns
In this book they talk about the following nine fasts in depth. (Be sure to get the book to learn more about the actual fasts)
1. The Disciple's Fast
2. The Ezra Fast
3. The Samuel Fast
4. The Elijah Fast
5. The Widow's Fast
6. The Saint Paul Fast
7. The Daniel Fast
8. The John the Baptist Fast
9. The Esther Fast
My eyes have been opened to a lot of different things our body needs. Fasting is NOT just for spiritual healing but also for physical healing. We are in desperate need of fasting and no one seems to know why. Let us dig in a little more on this subject. First, what is a fast?
"Fasting is a willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast or dry fasting is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a period of 24 hours, or a number of days. Water fasting allows drinking water but nothing else. Other fasts may be partially restrictive, limiting only particular foods or substances. A fast may also be intermittent in nature. Fasting practices may preclude intercourse and other activities as well as food." - Wikipedia
History and Background
"Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used fasting to combat disease 2,400 years ago. The ancient Ayurvedic healers of the Hindu religion prescribed fasting weekly for healthy digestive system. Most nationalities, religions and languages have a tradition of fasting handed down from their ancestors.
Most secular historians speculate that fasting evolved from people living without food during trouble times. Eventually they learned to go without food because they were troubled. I think there is a better explanation.
The Chinese have fasted since their beginnings, which some scholars think was four generations after Noah's family. The earliest writings in the Chinese language are found on bones and pottery, dated 2000 B.C."
Four Kinds of Fasting
1. The normal fast - is going without food for a definite period. The duration can be one day, as in Judges 20:26
2. The absolute fast is going without food or water, and should be short.
3. The partial fast includes omitting one meal a day, or omitting certain foods for a certain period. Eating only vegetables for several days is a good partial fast John Wesley ate only bread (whole grain) and water for many days.
4. A rotational fast involves avoiding certain foods periodically. For example, food families such as grains are eaten only every 4th day. Three days of fasting without grains of any kind may be followed by one day in which grains are eaten.
Benefits of Fasting
From the beginning, our bodies seemed to have been designed to take periodic rests from food. The seventh day was designed for rest; and the digestive system needs rest just as much as the rest of the body. It would make sense that we should rest at least once in awhile.
A benefit from resting a full night is how it supports the digestive system. It is no accident that in English the first meal of the day is named break-fast. A 12 to 14 hour fast can also be beneficial for the system. We are living in a society where it is "bad" to skip a meal. But what if it's not? What if we just take a break and only eat when we are hungry?
If you think about how our body was designed to respond to sickness, you can start to see how important it is to rest. You get sick, you sleep and most of the time you don't eat. Ever wonder why we work so hard to lower a temperature? Fever causes us to ache, and to want to lie down. (Please note that fevers as high as 106 degrees can cause death or brain damage and should be treated quickly. Keep those temps below 104). We live in a society where we don't have time to lie down and rest, we need to go, go, go. Rest, fever and fasting seem to be part of the design to shorten viral infections. Once you fully recover from your virus you are immune for life from it.
When it comes to mental disease or even cancer, fasting has proven to improve both. Don't expect a miracle when doing your first fast. Addiction and withdrawal symptoms (irritability, anger, etc.) could override any first-time benefits. It is noted that doing a fast can have a positive effect on the mind and emotions. The mind is a precious thing. Fasting can give the body time to clear itself of toxic products.
Now we are going to chat about food addiction.
**Things to Consider
Do you struggle with overeating or constant dieting?
Have you been on a diet and lost all the weight, but need support not to go back to unhealthy behaviors?
Do you ever feel out of control and unable to stop eating?
Do you eat out of frustration, anger, or fear?
Does it seem impossible to eat only when you are hungry and stop when you are full?
Do you eat to feel comfort?
Throughout our lives many of us have turned to food to ease our pain or fear.
We felt comfort in eating and found ourselves turning to food whenever we were hurt, angry or frustrated.
Food became our comforter, our friend.
Some of us may have one certain food that we can not stop eating, or are unable to eat only in healthy amounts.
Some of us may have been emotionally, physically or sexually abused and use food to cope with the emotions of those events.
Some of us may have had healthy eating habits as children or young adults, but at some point in our lives we chose to overeat and lost the ability to discern when we were physically hungry or when we were physically full.
Some of us may have turned to food after obtaining sobriety in other areas.
We thought food was “safe,not realizing it could become our “drug of choice”.
We have focused on our body image instead of our health.
Many of us have tried various diet programs, exercising, medications or many other ways of trying to control our eating habits.
We have failed over and over and are left feeling guilty, incapable and unlovable.
We have given in to the idea that there is one perfect diet or pill out there that can save us, if only we could find it.
Some of us believe that thin people do not struggle with food addiction. We have also failed to recognize food as our “drug of choice”.
As a result of our food addiction we feel out of control and may struggle with many other areas of our lives.
Some of us have low self esteem which may affect our motivation, and our relationship with God and others.
**Celebrate Recovery is a Christ centered 12 step program. Find a location near you for more answers http://www.celebraterecovery.com/
As humans we tend to become addicted to everything and sometimes the things we are addicted to seem completely innocent. Our society acknowledges addiction to alcohol, drugs, nicotine, gambling and even relationships but what about the other addictions? Sports, food, education, work, wealth, power, shopping and more all seem to be socially acceptable. "He's a huge sports fan" or "She has a strong sense of work ethics", seems like a positive lifestyle. However, this can be very harmful to yourself and your loved ones, if they are left unbalanced.
"An addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences." - Wikipedia
Before you begin a fast be sure you know why you're doing the fast and what you'd like to see from it. This book is a guide providing the direction needed to get started. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider if fasting would be safe for you to do.
If fasting is not an option, you can always fast from certain foods. Remember, if you give something up for 30 days and it was extremely hard to give up, you should probably give it up for longer.