Friday, March 10, 2017
Fasting is not a spiritual discipline to be undertaken with extravagant enthusiasm. Those who think that if a little is good, a lot is better should tread slowly. Jesus may have been able to handle forty days in the wilderness, but beginners with fasting should start out with a much smaller amount of time. There is wisdom in starting out slow in order to see how the body reacts to not having its usual intake of food. Always care should be exercised to make sure there are no health issues which might be triggered by a lack of food. The first fast might simply be as long as one meal. God has no problem with the common sense approach.
After fasting in smaller measures without any physical problems, it is time to move forward into a fast that encompasses greater amounts of time. A day fast might be the next step before launching out into a larger fast of two or three days. It has always seemed that a good fasting period was one that started after Maundy Thursday communion and ended after sunrise on Easter morning. But, like a runner who wants to run long distances, become comfortable with smaller time spans first.
Always keep in mind the purpose of the fast. It is not a discipline designed for beating up our bodies, or testing our physical ability to do without food for a long period of time. When we start feeling good about how long we are fasting, we have likely allowed ourselves to be captured by pride in what we can do. Fasting is not something that measures what we can do. Instead, it is a spiritual discipline which can help us understand what God is doing in our life.