Friday, July 08, 2011

40 Day Fast Day Four: Ruled by Our Stomachs

I felt a bit dizzy today, which is to be expected on a fast occasionally... your blood pressure drops and if you move too fast you're likely to swoon a bit. But overall I didn't feel too bad today, and I've had plenty of energy. 

I took a quick trip up to the San Francisco Bay Area today to speak at Clayton Community Church tomorrow morning. I got upgraded to First class, which is always nice although since I'm fasting it meant… no snacks! Bummer. I did have apple juice. But no little pack of pretzels and soy nuts for me.

I'm staying with our great friends, Rick and Denise. Rick is a pastor at CCC, and he picked me up at the airport. He was disappointed I'm fasting, because he'd like to treat me to meals while I'm here (of course! And I would love that!), and we had a good conversation about it on the way home from the airport.

Rick mentioned that fasting always makes him think of George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman, and a comment that the devil makes to Don Juan, that “man is ruled by his stomach.” That's certainly true, it seems to me, as when my stomach starts making noises I immediately start trying to make it happy one way or another, and vast amounts of my day can be spent in service to my stomach... planning meals, buying groceries, making meals, eating meals, thinking about meals, getting snacks, and so on ad nauseum. Sometimes literally ad nauseum!

Rick also said that I shouldn't tell Denise I was fasting, as she would want to talk about it and try to convince him to fast with her, which I thought was quite funny. As it turns out, he mentioned it to her himself and she did, indeed, want to talk about it. She didn't try to convince him to do it, though she said that she feels guilty that she doesn't fast more. These are both pretty common responses, I'm learning... people not wanting to fast at all or people feeling guilty for not fasting (or fasting more). From a purely religious standpoint, it's interesting, as fasting is never proscribed or commanded in the Bible (though there are "mandatory" fasts depending on your denomination (i.e. Lent) or religion (mandatory fasts are common in many religions). But if the Bible is your main guide for deciding what must and must be done, then it's never commanded of you.).

Denise shared that she has fasted, certainly, for sick friends and special prayer requests which prompted someone to say, "I don't believe in hunger strikes." In other words, he doesn't believe that we can "move" God to answer our prayers by refusing to eat. It's interesting, the wide variety of opinions from people on these topics... I can guarantee there are people who strongly believe that you can, indeed, "force God's hand" through fasting, and that many others would say it's purely a way to show God how serious you are about a specific issue, like a sick or dying friend.

How about you? What do you think?


  1. Anonymous6:49 PM

    I fall on the side of that it shows how serious you are about something. I also fall of the side of not advocating fasting too, but to each their own.

  2. You can also see in this post that I've already lost track of the days by day four or five. I lost a day somehow already, this should have been a post on Saturday. Sigh. I will say that I found it hard to think clearly during this time of the fast.

  3. Anonymous8:31 AM

    The bible also says our fasting should be in secret and not before men. Isn't blogging and fb kinda like a modern day marketplace or street corner? Just sayin'. Not trying to be judgmental, just felt like the obvious should be stated and dealt with.

  4. Anonymous Elephant is in the room now, Matt. Fasting is good, and if it was supposed to be such a big undocumented secret, we never would have known about Jesus' forty day fast.

  5. Mark (anonymous)10:48 AM

    We should live by the things prescribed in scripture, not just described. Explicit teaching always takes precedence.

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  7. I had a feeling you would be opening a can of worms. .Not yummy worms mind you ;)

    Fasting is not away to force gods hand, or show how badly you really want something. I don't think we can really bribe, or bargan with God. He does what he does because of what we do, but he knows our hearts, and if we are doing something for the gain then plah.

    It is true that fasting should be done in a personal way, however I find nothing wrong with a document of it. It might inspire others, if your heart is in the right place.

    Fasting is a way MAN can get closer to God. One tends to spend a lot of time in prayer when starved I guess is the idea. ;) anyway its about the relationship, not the suff we want, not showing how much we want stuff. It is about knowing God more.

  8. When Jesus talks about fasting and praying in solitude, his point isn't the solitude. His point is the heart of the person involved in the spiritual discipline. The concern is motivation. If you fast for the purpose of being seen by others for the wrong reasons, like the Pharisees did, to impress people and draw attention to yourself in a prideful way, then you are missing the mark. I don't sense here in any way that you are trying to impress anyone with how amazingly spiritual you are. It seems to me that you are letting us in on your journey, with humility, and I for one am happy to travel with you.