By: Nikki Nies
Religious fasting does not discriminate amongst religions. Off the top of my head, I know several denominations that fast regularly, while the religious premise differs. The term fasting can take on many meanings, but when someone says they’re fasting, it equates to abstaining from a something. Fasting can be in the form of complete abstinence of food and drink until sundown, TV, screen time, added sugar, sleep, sex or coffee to obtain and maintain spiritual growth.
I’m not here to pass judgement on anyone’s customs or beliefs, but to point out some aspects of fasting that should be considered. For example, someone with diabetes should probably consult a physician prior to a food fast. Perhaps, there’s another type of fast that can help with spiritual growth.
- Fasting is not meant to punish our flesh, but to focus on those things above
- Schedule a physical exam to confirm you’re “fit” to fast
- If you’re on medications, make sure to notify physician about fasting to limit potential counter indications
- Should be done during a set time and have an end date
- Should not be used as a means of dieting, but for religious purposes
- It can be easier to fast by thinking of this practice as a sacrificial time
- Similar to starting a new exercise regime, you want to ease into fasting. Perhaps, you fast from one meal or fast for one day, no need to stretch yourself too thin the first time by fasting from food for an entire week!
- Prior to abstaining from whatever you choose, may be easier to ease into the fast by decreasing intake or use of fasted items the days prior to the fast. This may mean eating smaller meals or decreasing TV time days before so the fast is easier to acclimate to.
- May be helpful to wean off caffeine and sugar before the fast to ease initial hunger or discomfort in the initial stages of fast
During a period of fasting, one’s safety has to remain at the forefront of every decision. In addition to diabetics, those that are physically too thin or emaciated; suffering from weakness or anemia; prone to anorexia or bulimia; with tumors, bleeding ulcers, blood or heart diseases and/or cancer; have chronic issues with kidneys, lungs, heart or liver and/or pregnant women or those that are nursing may consider opting out of a fast.
The Bible refers to two types of fasts, the “absolute” and the “supernatural absolute.” These are total fasts-no food (solid or liquid) and no water
I tried to keep this post general as to not offend or pigeon hole any one’s practices, but to give some food for thought. Fasting encourages humility, greater fellowship and connection to one’s religious group, acquiring patience, can help restore one’s religious beliefs, frees oppression and encourages a lifestyle of reflection and honor.
Photo Credit:Vocation Network