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Fasting: A rewarding challenge

Fasting is a ritual practice common to the major religions of the world. In the Christian faith, we hear more about the custom during the holy season of Lent, when we practice self-sacrifice to regain a renewed spiritual perspective for daily living.

fasting is a sacrifice where a person voluntarily abstains from consuming food or drinking liquids. I grew up in an evangelical church environment that suggested and encouraged regular fasting as a means of spiritual growth.

As a teenager in St. Louis, I accepted the challenge of abstaining from one meal a week, a challenge for a 16-year-old boy with a typical appetite. For me, I purposely opted to abstain from the Friday school lunch. To heighten my appreciation for this weekly event, I retreated to a quiet place in the high school for an hour of meditation and reflection. This discipline became a spiritual growth hormone for me. This sacrifice aided my efforts to a good teen and to say no to the temptations of being a junior in high school.

Upon graduation, this act of discipline was so integrated into my spiritual nature that it continued in college. At Southern Nazarene University, I became a member of the Fasting and Prayer Fellowship meeting on Fridays, an hour of spiritual discipline. I elected the ritual voluntarily and found it to be a means of renewal and sometimes I benefited from a natural emotional high. The end result was resolve, persistence, and steadfastness to finish college and work with the Lord. I know the performance of this prescripted habit enabled me to capitalize on my spiritual resources.

Precipitating these thoughts on fasting was an article in The Upper Room [Mar-Apr 2008] describing how to make thebdiscipline even more profitable to our well-being.

The following is the verbatim experience of another person on an evangelical pilgrimage and how her fasting contributed to her enrichment. She received an epiphany on how to sacrifice even more than missing a meal:

“My 24 hours of fasting, solitude, introspection and prayer were finished. I was mentally and spiritually fulfilled but physically starved. It was time to break my fast. The food before me was one of my favorite meals, and as is my custom before eating, I said a prayer of thanks for this Bounty from God’s earth. Here was the food my body craved, now blessed and ready to be eaten. Yet I could not eat; something was missing. What was it?

“I could not define the problem for some time. Finally my mind focused , and the answer was right in front of me. What would I do with the money that I had not spent for food wile fasting? How would I spend it? What did God want me to do with it? I broke my fast by eating, and as my physical hunger subsided, I spotted a copy of The Upper Room.

“The answer was clear: take the money saved by fasting and send a subscription to The Upper Room to alleviate the spiritual hunger of someone in need of God’s guidance. This way my fast can help spread the word of God and send spiritual encouragement to someone.” — A. Brooks Drake

In college, I never had the money to donate, since I was living “on a shoestring” in my 20s. If you adopt this discipline and wish to donate to a worthy organization, the Loaves and Fishes will use that gift to feed the hungry and provide spiritual encouragement. For spiritual guidance, read The Upper Room, available at all United Methodist Churches.

Rev. Charles Moreland
Rev. Charles Moreland
Rev. Charles Moreland, retired, has lived in Clarksville for seven years and holds great pride in his adopted city and its people. His one objection in Tennessee is the Hall law of taxes on dividends and savings. Charles served in the U.S. Army Chaplaincy from 1966-1986, retiring to serve as a United Methodist pastor near Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He serves on the Boards of Directors for the ARP, Roxy Theater and MCDP. Though retired, he is a regular speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. His five grandchildren, ages two to thirteen years, live in Evansville, Indiana. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War and served in Germany and Korea while on active duty.
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