(Orange, Texas)


February 1, 2013

To Fast: It’s Not About Speed

ORANGE — I have hit a wall. Some people call it writer’s block.

I asked my intelligent Administrative Assistant, “What should I write about?”

She replied, “Broccoli slaw”.

She doesn’t know that I take suggestions seriously and was able to fit the word, “diarrhea” in a sermon once on a dare.

Broccoli slaw brings to mind a question my wife asked, “Do United Methodist’s give up things for Lent?”

For those who are not familiar with the church calendar, Lent is the 40 day season before Easter. The real term for “giving something up” is called “fasting”.

Fasting is the discipline of abstinence from food or water. Fasting is an act of humility before God, undertaken in part to seek His intervention in the events of our physical world. Christ, the prophets, and the apostles fasted to have more time to pray, seek God and repent in that, we are more focused on the Lord and less concerned with our daily routines. Some say fasting allows the Holy Spirit to work in a powerful way. It transforms prayer into a richer, more personal experience. The most common fasting styles include but are not limited to, water fasting, which means you only drink water, it is both physically and spiritually cleansing. Juice fasting: consisting of 100% fruit and/or vegetable juice; no solid foods. Or the Daniel fast / Fruit fasting: The Daniel fast is done as ‘no meats, no sweets’. Many people will choose to do this fast as only fruits and vegetables and water, i.e. no breads, pastas, milk, meats or sweets. For those with heavy workloads a protein shake fast is an option. Some people fast from a food they do not like, such as broccoli slaw.

The length of fasts vary, the shortest being a 9 hour fast from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., 24 hour fast, 3-day, one week, or more. Fasting can be found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and in other religions as well. The founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley required pastors to fast once a week and encouraged members to do likewise. So yes dear, Methodists do fast. Another approach is to take away something that takes a lot of your time, and refocus that time for prayer. Last year my family gave up their cell phones from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and spent real time together. So fasting for forty days is a piece of cake.

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