Our healthy practice for this week is fasting. Fasting has been becoming popular with people since it shows results, without having to say no to their favorite meal or snack forever.
Before I go further, fasting is not for everyone, and always consult a doctor especially for a longer fast or if you have any pre-existing conditions. Additionally, anyone with and eating disorder may not want to do this practice. Eating may be a tougher discipline. The reason behind your fast is important and at Gracious Health the reason should not be able appearance or losing weight it is focused on God and getting closer to Him. For some people, even without a true eating disorder may not want to fast and really look at your motives. You may even decide to end a fast earlier than planned if your focus is not on God (You may want to check out this audio https://practicingtheway.org/teaching/relationship-to-food).
Fasting has been around for thousands of years! It is a willing abstinence from food for a period of time. Fasting is still counter-cultural, even with the increased interest in intermittent fasting. Our reasons for fasting as Christians should be God with a bonus of a health benefit. He wants His people to be healthy, and the practices He asks of His people aid in their health and life.
There are a lot of different reasons to fast, and how to fast. There are best practices for heading into fasts and breaking fasts, but right now we are just going to look at some bible verses and some findings in research articles.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” Exodus 20:27-28 Fasting was part of the picture as Moses was with God and writing down the Ten Commandments for God’s people. the absence of food and water, must have aided in some way, otherwise God would have given Moses food. Fasting has been known, empirically to prepare you heart and allow you to hear God more clearly.
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
~ Joel 2:12
Fasting shows a change in heart and desires away from idols and to God. Fasting can show God sincerity with your actions as an individual or as a community fasting for a single purpose.
““Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist.
You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.
“Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed
And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord?
“Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,”
Fasting that is from God should unite us with our brothers and sisters. Bring us to help the less fortunate. Help to make society a better place. Fasting the way God intended helps us break away from our sinful, inward focus and help others and bring justice to the world.
“Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
Fasting and prayer to equip one another for a mission. God knows the power and strength that arises from fasting and had the apostles pray and fast for the missionary journey. They are through their actions, their faith and confidence in God as they embark on this unknown journey.
Intermittent fasting may also have some effects on inflammatory diseases, with 2 months of fasting on alternating days showed a significant reduction in inflammatory markers in patients suffering from asthma (Johnson et al., 2007).
In a study, 13 days of water-only fasting reduced systolic blood pressure below 120 in 82% of subjects with mild hypertension. Blood pressure remained significantly lower after subjects had returned to their normal diet for 6 days (Goldhamer et al. 2002).
Fasting has become a potential strategies for avoiding major dietary changes while achieving strong effects for an array of factors that constitutes the foundation for metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and possibly neurodegenerative diseases (Mattson et al., 2014).
“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Fasting was something that Jesus expected you to do. He wants you to fast, but it is not about you being better than someone or proving yourself while we fast. Be weary of becoming prideful about fasting, or trying to show off that you are fasting or more spiritual.
If you are thinking about doing a fast ALWAYS look at your motives, your why is important!
Unfortunately, my motives for everything I do are not as pure as I would like to believe, but listening to God is important to do while preparing to fast and during your fast.
The bible does not discuss fasting as a cure or the health benefits, God is the real benefit of fasting, any health changes pale in comparison to a deeper relationship with God.
***If you want to do a fast, be safe and partner with a health professional.***
All Bible verses are NASB
Goldhamer, A., Lisle, D., Parpia, B., Anderson, S. V., & Campbell, T. C. (2001). Medically supervised water-only fasting in the treatment of hypertension. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 24(5), 335-339.
Johnson, J. B., Summer, W., Cutler, R. G., Martin, B., Hyun, D. H., Dixit, V. D., ... & Carlson, O. (2007). Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 42(5), 665-674.
Mattson, M. P., Allison, D. B., Fontana, L., Harvie, M., Longo, V. D., Malaisse, W. J., ... & Seyfried, T. N. (2014). Meal frequency and timing in health and disease. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(47), 16647-16653.