Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A story of fasting

During my days of earnest efforts to become a super spiritual person, effectively trying to please god, I picked up another tool to tap God to listen to me – Fasting. It reminds me of the hunger strikes people do to get the attention of the people in the authority. Hunger strikes usually put a lot of pressure on the authority, because there is a risk of media attention and also if the person dies (in case), that would be a huge blow to their political image. I thought God had a political image and tried to utilize His ego in a sentimental approach.

Also, Jesus fasted; apostles fasted (not sure if it was to get the attention of God).

Apart from the monthly church-wide fasting, I decided to fast on Wednesdays by my own. The entire day I wouldn’t eat any food, but pretty much survive with water and coffee/tea. The first Wednesday went really well. I felt hungry but didn’t give up and I was secretly happy that I climbed one more step on the ladder of taming my flesh. I thought the more I control the desires of my flesh, the more God would be pleased in me and would listen to my prayers. As weeks went by, I added yogurt and fruits to my diet on Wednesdays. There were some of my co-workers who would come and invite me for lunch without realizing it’s a Wednesday. Then I would tell them, ‘Don’t you guys know that today is Wednesday?’ Later on they stopped inviting me. There was this Greek restaurant where they sold Gyro Sandwiches which I craved all the time. Some Wednesdays these people would go there and before they leave from office they would discuss the menu. When I overhear their conversations about the menu items, I go mad, sitting in my cubicle, silently cursing those nonspiritual worldly pagans.

After few months, I added supper on Wednesdays. Which means, I don’t eat breakfast, eat only fruits and yogurt for lunch and then I eat supper at night like a pig. One other secret reason to start the fasting was to lose weight as well (Shhhh…..!). In effect, due to my Yo-Yo eating, I started gaining weight and the whole thing made me miserable. I felt as if I was in the middle of a dragon and the ocean. On one side all my co-workers know that I do fasting on Wednesdays and I was afraid of their ridicule if I gave up, the other side I am dying inside and pretty much craving all foods. By this time, God is already out of the picture. I even wondered who invented fasting in the first place. I started hating all the people who eat their lunch. I found a solution though – go under hiding during lunch break and get something from outside, eat in the car. That worked. Everybody thought I was fasting but at the same time I wasn’t hungry and miserable. I started loving my wife and kids more and my dislike towards my co-workers lessened and I felt relieved. But deep inside my heart I still questioned myself and god, why I have no strength to fast successfully.

Eventually I gave up my fasting game and started eating lunch like everybody. Overall, it wasn’t a pleasant experience and I have never fasted since then.

12 comments:

Nicole said...

Bino, good story... I was never much into fasting. It was more distracting than not when it came to focusing on God. I remember my husband who fasted for one week straight without any food but just juice and water to survive on. Thank God I didn't jump on that band wagon, but throughout that whole week, my husband seemed so miserable and complained about being hungry most of the time! I really thought after that, that fasting is rediculous, and at some point becomes pointless! I think I went without food for one day and that is close that I will ever get to fasting again!!!

In Freedom, Nicole!

Bino M. said...

:)

Matthew Daelon said...

I tried to fast once. I think I made it like 5 hours and then I dove for the fishsticks in the freezer. :)

Bino M. said...

LOL :)

Aida said...

Bino, I laughed so hard while reading your post and the comments. I laughed almost as much as I did while watching Matthew's cat video.

I can totally relate. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who's done those things while supposedly fasting. The smartest thing I did was to give it up.

Pass the fishsticks, somebody.

Bino M. said...

Aida, Glad you liked it :)

Joel B. said...

I always wondered why they call it a "fast" when it takes sooooo looooong!!!

I've had one or two good experiences with fasting, and I don't totally write off the whole idea. I do think there is some New Covenant scripture that supports it. But yet I do think the church makes a ritual out of it, and a 'work' out of it, and a legalistic practice out of it, and most of the times that I've seen it done, or talked about or preached about, it's been way off of the spirit of what I think it's meant to be about.

And actually, if someone were to ask me what it's really meant to be about, I don't think I could give them an actual scriptural answer (unless I got legalistic on them, because then I could bring up a bunch of stuff!). I just know that when it's been real to me, it's been real. Otherwise it's just been a fleshly attempt at trying to get God to "move" in my life, and I don't believe that's what it's meant to be about.

The times it meant something real to me were times in which I was truly seeking God for wisdom, and it was more of a case of letting go of my earthly "needs" and instead just focusing on God as Spirit. I really can't even explain it.

Overall, though, it's been a long time since I've fasted, and most of the times I never made it a full day. :)

Aida said...

A while ago, I was feeling guilty about not fasting so I asked Darin Hufford about it and he said the only required fast in the Bible was for the day of Atonement under the Old Covenant. I thought that was interesting so I checked it out and, as best as I can tell, he was right.

It seems that that the disciples were never commanded to fast. I don't think it was even ever suggested that they do. In my opinion, it seems to have been something that was done purely on a voluntary basis.

A lot of groups like to do 40 fast although they're not necessarily a total food fast. Again, this seems to be a tradition which isn't wrong but is nowhere commanded in scripture.

My personal opinion is that fasting, if done, should be strictly voluntary. Called fasts other than the Day of Atonement seems to be a tradition that started in OT times. Again, it would seem in my opinion that individuals should participate purely on a voluntary basis.

As in the case of any work, Father is not more pleased if we do it nor is he displeased if we don't.

Joel B. said...

Yep, Aida, I don't see any such thing as a required fast in the NT. In fact... I just did a search for forms of the word "fast" (fast, fasting, fasted, etc) in the New Testament, and I found that Jesus' disciples were put down for not fasting while the Pharisees and John's disciples did fast.

Jesus reply is quite honestly something I don't understand, but I by no means think it has anything to do with a commanded fast:

Mark 2:19-20
And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days."

Anyway, aside from Matthew thru John, fasting is very rare. Fasting is mentioned a couple of times in Acts, and in 1 Cor 7:5 Paul says to husbands and wives, "Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer..."

As you say, I don't think it's mandatory in any way, and it's strictly voluntary. And I don't believe it's meant in any way to score points with God!

Aida said...

Joel, just another thought. When I was reading the Mark scripture you gave, the thought occurred to me that perhaps Jesus was just stating a fact.

Instead of commanding a fast as we've been taught, he might have been saying that in the future, his believers will begin to fast. Since he was with them then, there was no need for them to fast.

Today, his presence has been taken away from us by religious teachings so we've started fasting again. However, my thought is that since we once again know that he's with us, it's no longer necessary to fast.

Wow! Bino, thanks for starting this. Fasting has in the past been a source of confusion and guilt for me and now it just seems to be getting clearer.

amy said...

Thanks for sharing Bino! you know I always thought fasting was a pretty drastic thing to have to do to get close to God, for people who had been gifted with what Jesus did on the cross. If we have the full measure of the holy spirit dwelling in us, why do we have to go without food to get God to talk to us. I think such teachings are so destructive to the relationship Father wants to have with us.

Bino M. said...

Amy,
Pretty much all the teachings I have heard in the church on fasting was so contrary to the truth of God's grace and love.

But at the same time, I don't think fasting has no value. To me, if I lay aside some of my personal priorities, such as food, sleep or any other entertainment in order to achieve something greater, which has more eternal values, such as helping someone who is in a desperate situation, doing some reading to have a deeper understanding of God's love etc is nothing but fasting. When I do that, I am not trying to earn or achieve something from God, instead I am doing it for my own good, out of a convicted heart.

There is nothing more I can achieve from God because He has already given me everything I ever need for life and godliness. Now the important thing is to understand what I have in Christ. For that purpose [to understand or to discover the treasures in Christ], if fasting is required, I am all for that.

Sometimes I can just sit and read Bible for hours and hours and if I don't have to worry about food (for example). So in that case, If I don't spend time for cooking, I can spend more time reading. But I am not doing it out of obligation, obedience or ritual. I voluntarily decided to take time to read (for my own good).