“Hunger is a real thing”
Dear friends, welcome to the month of September. Guess what? We’re fasting this month. I know right… this is something some believers dread. But don’t worry, if you struggle with fasting, we have a way out for you, so keep reading!
Truth be told, fasting can be a real struggle. We have heard stories of people who embarked on marathon fasts for 70 days and came out feeling strengthened and transformed; yet, we have also heard the stories of those who broke down and gave up on the journey. It doesn’t make them weaker or less spiritual than the former, rather, they have not just learned how to do it right. So, if you find yourself struggling to fast, keep reading till the very end.
Let’s have a quick self-reflection moment. Try to answer these questions honestly:
- What makes me feel better when you’re hungry, tired or angry?
- What discourages me from fasting?
- Do I really like the idea of fasting?
- How do I feel when a fasting program is announced in church?
Now that you have taken a moment to reflect, let’s delve into the purpose of this blog.
There are so many misconceptions about fasting, especially among believers. Some believers grew up believing it is a taboo to look good during a fast. Thankfully, Matthew 6:16-18 has all the answers. It says, “Matthew 6:16 Teaching about Fasting
“And when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full.
When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, so that others cannot know that you are fasting—only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.”
Some also believe fasting to be a bargaining chip for instant blessings, thankfully, Joel sets the record straight: Joel 2:12-13 says , “repent sincerely and return to me with fasting and weeping and mourning.” You know what that means? It’s like saying, “Talk to me God, I’m all ears”.
Others believe fasting to be something that ought to be announced so that others can see how spiritual they are. Again, remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:16-18 about not making it obvious that you are fasting.
These misconceptions are apparently the finished products of religious doctrines and we can go on with them, but if you are among those who believe fasting to be one of these, without verifying through scriptures, no doubt, these are the main reasons you struggle with fasting. What should you do?
If you struggle with fasting, do these 5 things:
- Focus on God: This may be easier to do than we think (and difficult to spot!). Truth is, fasting makes us weak physically, taking away the strength we could get from food. Sometimes, emotions like anger and hurt rise to the surface, making us surprised. As horrible as this may sound, it can be really tempting to try to suppress these feelings through social media, movies or just hanging out with friends but this often defeats the purpose of the fast. We must rather let God purify our souls, recognizing that these things happen for a reason, rather than masking the pain with other behaviors. God is jealous about you (Exodus 34:14) and fasting only reveals things that are getting in the way such as anger, pain, and others.
- Set realistic expectations: This is surely a big one for many believers. Sometimes we aim too high and set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. You may have started a “water only” fast and somehow took some juice to make it through the day; or maybe that chocolate bar or chips just suddenly “jumped” into your mouth, what can you do? The good news is that God is quick to forgive (Exodus 34: 6-7) and he sees through our hearts. He wants us to make adjustments quickly and seek him genuinely.
- Get a fasting buddy:
As funny as this may sound, sometimes, you need an accountability or encouragement partner. It’s totally okay to do your fast with a friend, this helps you focus on the goal of your fast with discipline. You could set goals and embark on daily spiritual activities together.
- Don’t condemn yourself:
Sometimes, it Is okay to mess up. God really allows the downfalls and shortcomings to expose our weaknesses, shut out pride and reveal to us that food is really not as satisfying or pleasurable as knowing him. So, when you fall into temptation, the real sin is condemning yourself rather than repenting and adjusting.
- Talk about it:
For every fast we embark on, remember God is our rewarder and not men. So, quit bragging about it or telling others that you’re fasting, rather, keep all your conversations with God (Matthew 6:16). If it helps, talk to one or two trusted friends or maybe mentors who can pray with you during the fast, but try not to go beyond that. What if someone offers you food? Simply say something like, “oh, I’m not hungry. Thank you.”
P.S- Talking about fasting to inspire or encourage others is different from doing it to get their attention or admiration.
Do you struggle to fast? Don’t worry! You’ve got this. Don’t ignore God, embrace your weaknesses, don’t condemn yourself, get a fasting buddy and talk to someone about your challenges. Your fasting journey is a triumph, and every struggle you conquer brings you closer to victory. As we embark on the 21 days fasting and prayer, make up your mind to stay strong till the end watch how transformed you become.
If you struggling with fasting, join any of our small groups using by clicking here for encouragement and accountability purpose.