I felt compelled to share some of my personal thoughts from experience on fasting.
Last summer I had a great deal of broken heartedness and felt a yearning inside for more of the Lord’s presence. After some weeks of crying out to him, I felt moved to fast for our relationship. It was a private matter altogether to be sure, but after missing the first two meals I have to say I felt a lot of hunger for food. My stomach ached even though I had not been eating much in the past few weeks. There’s something about denying yourself something that makes you hungrier than when you are just emotionally hurt inside. But when I would feel that hunger or stomach ache during those first three meals I told the Lord it was a sign to him of how badly I needed to hear from him; how badly I wanted to feel him closer to me.
He delights in those moments, and he shows us just how much he delights in it too. And just as a husband and wife share intimate moments they never would share with others so too are certain moments we share with him. There are things that happen which we have never experienced before and things that happen we’ve never felt before and things that happen that others would believe if we told them. These are things we keep to ourselves, and I notice fasting multiplies these things.
I want to share a few practical things about fasting I have also noticed. First, using the beginning of a Jewish day to begin a fast is much easier than using the standard type of day. A Jewish day begins in the evening and concludes just before evening the next day. So if you fast for one Jewish day you might eat breakfast and lunch, then when evening comes begin your fast by not eating supper. This is so much easier than making breakfast your first meal to miss.
Now when I first started fasting I actually was determined to fast for 3-7 days or even more because of how unbearable the personal life circumstance felt at the time. But what I found out, not having consistently fasted before, was that after 24 hours the hunger for something was really extreme. I found myself sleeping more than praying or meditating or crying out or reading. So, I stopped the fast after missing dinner, breakfast and lunch. But after eating dinner, breakfast and lunch the next day I found the same pain of the personal life struggle returning and I fasted again missing dinner, breakfast and lunch. And so it happened that every other day for the next three months I would eat (or that is to say every other day I would fast). The fast always began at dinner and concluded by dinner time the next day. In this way, I actually always had one meal per day (according to the American way).
While it is not good for me to go into all the details of all that happened during that time (experience-wise), I will say that in addition to him eventually taking away the pain of the personal life struggle I also found his power in overcoming some things I had chronically struggled with all my life. And I just want to point out it did not take a full three months to be relieved of the personal reason for which I began the fast. I’m happy to share the later part of that fasting time was just to continue sharing in the time he wanted us to have; but eventually a new season came and he looks to work with us in different ways as you know. Oh and before I forget – just as Jesus said in Matthew 6… if you let your fasting be done in secret (to the best of your ability; obviously impossible to keep from anyone you live with and that is okay) then there is definitely a much greater blessing to be experienced. He really does embrace a private loving of us, and we of him.