Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Lenten Fast

Three years ago, I did my first extended fast. I started on Ash Wednesday and went 25 days before breaking it. I had hoped to make it through Lent, but all of the literature I had read emphasized the need to pay attention to your body, and listen for when it is done fasting, not when the calendar says you should be done.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I am about to do it again. When I finished I had decided that in future years I would play it by ear, and not assume that I should fast just because that was what you should do at Lent. The following two years did not present themselves as time when fasting was either a)feasible, or b)necessary.

This year however, I am feeling the same stirring upon my heart that I did in 2006. I do believe it is the Holy Spirit tugging at me, nudging me to attempt another fast. And when I sit back, I realize that spiritually, it really might just be the time again.

And this is why I am telling you. Not because I feel the need to shout my spiritual journey in the far reaches of the internet, but because judging by the traffic this blog gets, if you are reading this, you probably know me. And because of that, I am here to ask for your support through prayer.

First some notes on how the fast will work, and then some specific requests for prayer.

The last time I fasted, I tried a variety of concoctions within my first week that just didn't suit me. The famous cayenne/maplesyrup/water/lemon drink is as nasty as it sounds. So is the reality of blending green veggies in an attempt to get juice from them. I found myself never far from a water bottle full of cool water, and I also relied mostly upon pineapple, apple and cranberry juices. Occasionally I ventured out into other ones, but that was the majority of my intake.

So, this time around, I will start with what works. In the last year however, I have become quite the fan of teas and tisanes. I am most likely going to work in the occasional cuppa into my diet, but I am not sure what kind and how much.

Also, I will be seeking a good multi-vitamins to supplement my diet.

While the physical end of a fast is not the reason or motivation anyone should use for a fast, it is something to be addressed, and since I have done this once before, I will be able to gauge myself better this time around.

*What this fast is not*

1. An attempt at weight loss. Going into it last time, I knew that while I would lose a lot of weight, the chances of that weight staying off were very slim thanks to the way our metabolism works. I lost 30-35 pounds last time, and did keep it off for a couple of months, but then I started gaining back when my old eating habits returned and my exercising routine diminished.

2. A way to save money. I was surprised at how much it actually cost me last time around. It was about on par with my normal grocery bill, but with juice and whatnot.

3. A reason for people to apologize for eating in front of me. I am well aware of the fact that humans normally eat to make it through their day and so you should feel free to eat away! It is really quite surpriseing how the huger pangs start to disappear after the first week!

Now on to the prayer.

I have three specific prayer goals for this fast.

1. That this would be a time of repentance, renewal and even rejoicing.

2. That God will meet me in this time, and show his grace to me.

3. That it also be a time of faithful petition, specifically for the Lord's favor in my ongoing job/career journey. Both that I accept what he has given me thus far, but also that he would hear my cries for a job that fits my calling to serve him and his church. Even more specifically (if prayer can't be specific, what can?), that he would help me understand both my desire to work inside the church, and my desire to be a teacher, and then show the path to make one or both of those come to fruition.

(while the third goal contains many more words, the first two take primacy)

Logistically, my first 24 hours of the fast were the most excruciating and full of temptation the last time around, so if you were going to choose one day to pray- that would be it!

In the end, i still have some of the details to figure out, But hopefully this time next week I will be pushing on through the first night of Lent like a trooper!


Thomas said...

sweet thanks for the heads up. Often so many people decide to keep a fast to themselves for various reasons but in this case I find it encouraging to know you are doing it.