Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fasting & Prayer, Sans SackCloth

Yup, this is pretty much me until Easter.

This year, for the first time, I decided I'd observe Lent. This is a first since I'm not Catholic or a member of a "high church" or liturgical Protestant denomination. Although my husband, being raised as a Roman Catholic, was quite familiar with this 40 Day period of sacrifice, I never bothered. In fact, when I was a kid, when I heard "Lent", I just thought of all that stuff we had to pull out the trap in the dryer.

As an adult, it always intrigued me, but being a penta-charasmatic-non-denom girl, I steered clear of it still. It seemed very... Romish. But after reading up on it, I realized how awesome it could be- a spiritual renewal in preparation of Resurrection Sunday (which I started around Palm Sunday anyway). What sealed the deal for me to do it though was a book by Evangelical pastor Jentezen Franklin called "Fasting". The book lists a number of different fasts one can do: drinking only water, from sun-up to sun down, eliminating a certain food group, short fasts, extended ones... I opted for a partial one, based loosely on the prophet Daniel's fasts. In chapter 10:2-3, Daniel abstains from "rich food", "meat and wine" for three weeks. In the first chapter, he (along with his three friends) skips out on everything except "vegetables and water". I came to the decision I would fast from meat and alcohol (so long chicken and my beloved glass of after-work-stress-relieving wine) for the whole of Lent. I chose to keep starches (potatoes, pasta, bread) since I am on medication for my illness.

I want to stress the point that fasting is not for simply giving up something. I'm not simply playing vegetarian for 5 weeks. No, you take away something, but you also add in more time for prayer, study of Scripture and meditation. If possible, donate some extra money (hey, you know you have it... you'll be getting that tax refund any day now! Do you REALLY need that 42 inch flat screen? Do you???). Don't have the cash? Donate old clothes, books, pots and pans to Goodwill or The Salvation Army. Volunteer to mentor a young person, clean your church, or shovel for a neighbor the next time a snowstorm hits. When you spend time on your knees, donate some of your prayer time to others (we all get caught up in praying for ourselves and our concerns). Follow the method I learned as a child in Christian school: J.O.Y... Jesus, Others, You. Spend more time on the "O" and you'll be adding to the "Y" and honoring the "J".

One thing I won't be doing is walking around looking like a poor soul, drawing attention to myself just cause I have to pass on the chicken in my pad thai:

Matthew 6:1-18 "And when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, who try to look pale and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I assure you, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will suspect you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in secret. And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you."

If you are interested in fasting, here are a few links to get you started:

The Different Types of Fasts
Resolute Fasting
What Does The Bible Say About Fasting?


Don said...

Though I personally have never fasted (a few lean financial weeks made me feel like I was) I hold nothing but admiration for those who have such a stoic spiritual relationship.

No, you take away something, but you also add in more time for prayer, study of Scripture and meditation.

Speaks of strength.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Hey Don,

So far, so good. I was only tempted once on Thursday when a thoughtless coworker decided to leave his deli subs in my office on his way to my boss' office. Why? I dont know. But the smell of that meat got to me, lol. But I had my veggie soup anyway, and I was good, lol.

I have been reading the Bible almost twice a day through different Lenten daily readings, and have been praying a whole lot more and longer. Its easy to do if you just turn off the tv and pc. You'll find you have so much extra time, lol.

Thanks for the kind words.

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