Thursday, May 14, 2009

What I'm learning from fasting

I've been trying (and making only minimal progress) of fasting on a regular, weekly basis. I want to incorporate the various spiritual disciplines into my life the way I do exercise. I want things like regular prayer, meditation, fasting, study, scripture memorization, serving others, etc to be the same kind of rhythm in my life that going to the gym and running are. I want to become the kind of person who just does those things, not one that feels obligated to do them.

Here's what I'm learning from fasting:
  • My body lies to me. Only a couple hours after eating and starting my fast, I'll begin to get hungry because I know I can't eat then. I'll try and talk myself out of the fast mid-way through or convince myself why I shouldn't fast on a given day in things that make great sense to me in the moment.
  • I am not nearly as dependent upon on God as I need to be. I look to so many things to fulfill me and often turn to God as a last resort. I would never binge on junk food and then going to Morton's for a steak dinner after I'm mostly full. It would be a waste.
  • Fasting tells me a lot about my priorities. I'll rearrange my world to make sure I don't miss a workout or a run, but I find some pretty amazing excuses not to fast.
  • My body responds reflexively to things in ways I'm not aware of. I have patterns of things that I think I need at a given time - a glass of scotch at night, or an ice cold beer as I BBQ.
  • I'm at the mercy of my cravings. It tells me I need things - that I must have things that aren't necessary. I'm sure that all of those things will be exactly what will fulfill me at that moment. After my fast, I'm always amazed that the things I'm think would be just what I need just don't fulfill me. Part of the reason I'm fasting is to retrain my reflexes. When I have these urges, I'm trying to discipline myself to look to God for fulfillment first. Not that I'm giving up drinking a glass of scotch at night, but I'm trying to go to Morton's before 7-11 for junk food.
  • I suck at denying myself anything. I'll go to great lengths and arrange my world the way I want to get myself what I want to eat, drink or buy. I want to pursue life from a place of fullness and wholeness. When I do that, these things take care of themselves.

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