Today’s the day! A few days ago, we sent an email with an invitation to join us in fasting for 21 days together, an opportunity to begin the new year together with a focus on resetting our spiritual and physical. We’d love for you to join us in a 21 day fast, beginning this week.
How do you fast?
Whether you’re familiar with fasting or not, we’ve got some helpful ideas for you.
Fasting for spiritual purposes is not about weight loss or laying new habits, although that can sometimes be a positive side effect. The purpose of a fast is to experience the presence of God in your life afresh and to realign your thoughts and your heart. Pray about fasting, what you should fast, and ask God what you are to learn from this experience.
Choose what you will fast from.
You might think that fasting means abstaining from food. While some people practice that type of fasting, think of fasting this way: it is abstaining from anything for a spiritual purpose. This means that you could choose to fast from social media. Or maybe that television show that you find yourself binging. Or perhaps you fast from saying critical things. Whatever it is that you choose, any time you feel the pull to engage in that behavior, use it as a reminder to reframe your thoughts and as an opportunity to offer up a prayer.
Choose the day you will start and the time period.
Some people choose to fast on a weekday every week all year long. Others prefer a specific amount of time with a start and finish. This year, the Altrua HealthShare team is fasting for 21 days together, beginning on January 5th. While we’re not all fasting from the same things, we are getting to experience the support and community surrounding each of our decisions. We’d love to have you join us for these 21 days, but you can also determine your own schedule for your fast.
As you journey through your fast, stay aware of what you’re noticing. Are you finding that you’re reaching for your phone all the time, only to remember you’re fasting from social media? What does that behavior tell you about your dependence on social media? Do you find yourself becoming a little angry or frustrated at letting go of a particular habit? Why do you think that is? What do you think God is showing you? Make a quick note on your phone or in your calendar so that you can lean into what the fasting experience is revealing to you.
It’s not about perfection.
So you said you weren’t going to have a diet soda, and then on day 11, you forgot and downed a caffeine fizzy drink. All is not lost. Be gracious with yourself. The next day is a new day. Again, the purpose of your fast is spiritual. It is to reconnect and to be refreshed by God.
If you’ve chosen to do something like our 21-day fast or another start-stop date, don’t feel like you have to immediately jump back into the behavior you’ve been fasting from. If you’ve given up, say, sweets, and baked goods for your fast, it doesn’t mean that you have to down that giant candy bar on the day after your fast. You don’t have to jump back into social media full bore. Let the freedom you’ve found during your fast remain with you. And consider journaling the insights and progress you’ve made during your fast as a reminder of the power of letting go of behaviors that we can be dependent on for comfort. Ultimately, God is our comfort, just as the discomfort of a fast can reveal. And celebrate! You’ve done something that can be a little difficult! You’ve made it through, learned more about yourself and your relationship with God.