January 5-9, was our bi-annual Prayer and Fasting week (next is in the month of June). With the holiday season just a few days back, it’s like we’ve ran the highway on full speed, of party and pigging out, to a full stop of food abstinence.
Though I’ve been doing it for almost ten years, every year is a different experience for me. This year, i’ve started the year suffering from colds and allergies that spiraled into a full blown flu. 😦 Well, that’s a goodbye on water and juice fast for me since I’m taking medications. Still this year’s fasting had a different feel to it.
As i’ve been doing it yearly for the past ten years, somehow I lost focus. It became as a “religious” duty that as Christians, are required us to do. It became more of just writing down yearly faith goals and asking for breakthroughs. I’ve forgotten the real reason why I’m doing this every year. I forgot how i’ve enjoyed it before, how not taking any food gives you a different kind of joy. How every day on that week was an exciting day. Then later on, it just became a struggle, it turned from joy to suffering. It became a duty rather than voluntary. It became more of a demand rather than an offering. It became more of Me instead of Him. I was kinda lost until I’ve read the book of Joey Bonifacio, The Mystery of the Empty Stomach.
It’s been sitting on my bookshelves for the past three years and was given by a friend. It was just this time that I found the mood to read it. Good thing I did. 🙂 It helped me realize (again) why i was fasting in the first place.
Imagine a bride who’s like a busy bee, preparing for her wedding day. From meeting her florist, photographer, wedding planner, caterer and couturier just to make sure everything will be perfect on her special day. And in between this tasks she never forgets to tell them about his soon-to-be husband. How they met, how he proposed. And before she knew it, the day went by and she hasn’t taken a bite of food. That’s how excited she is. She was so consumed with all the preparations that she herself wasn’t even aware that she was fasting. Our relationship with God should be just the same. He wants that kind of attention to the point that you forget to eat because you are too consumed with your relationship with Him, because you are too busy seeking Him. You fast not just because you want something from Him, but, because you want Him.
When we fast, it removes the blindfolds that covers our eyes (and our soul) from what God really wants us to see and discover. This year, one type of fasting I did was media fast. It’s a temporary prohibition of myself from using few types of “technology” such as TV, computer, social media, smartphone (excluding SMS for emergency purposes). It made me realize that most of my time were spent on “nonsense.” I had a few of those downtime where I just spent a few minutes and sometimes hours appreciating what’s happening to my surroundings. From watching and listening to that bird chirping on my windowsill, figuring what animal shape the cloud is forming on that blue sky, and even having those quality conversations with people I haven’t spoken with for a while now. It sounds cheesy right? (I know, i know!) 😛 But spending time away from distractions was liberating! I found the time run slower and yet productive and fulfilling.
While we all need food, money and success, none of these can satisfy our spiritual hunger. – Joey Bonifacio (The Mystery of the Empty Stomach)
Food, one of our necessities has also became our “comfort zone.” When stripped of your basic needs (in this case is food), you become vulnerable. When you are vulnerable, you become more sensitive of what you really need in your life. You realize more of how important God’s presence is in your life. Stepping out from our comfort zone helps us see new opportunities.. new opportunities to see the newer and different side of God.
Food may quell hunger fangs, but it will not satisfy life’s real appetite. – Joey Bonifacio (The Mystery of the Empty Stomach)
Who says fasting is easy? It is not but it is worth it. What makes it all worth it? It is the joy and contentment you find (in His presence) in spite of the hardship. It’s like seeing the light after getting lost in a pitch black and long tunnel. It is like seeing the rainbow after the heavy rain. It’s like the first gulp of water after a long jog.
It is not about you and me, but it is ALL about God, it is ALL about Jesus. It is less of a sacrifice compared to what He did for us in the cross.
How ’bout you? Why do you fast? I hope you’ll see it also in a new light. 😉