Posts Tagged fasting
A couple weeks ago, I did the 30 Hour Famine with my youth group at church again. The past couple years when I’ve done the Famine as a leader, I haven’t felt hungry at the end of the 30 hour fast. Part of the point of the Famine is to get a taste of what it feels like to be hungry–like what millions of people feel everyday. So this year I planned to do a longer fast.
I came to the 30 Hour Famine lock-in on Friday night exhausted after having gotten up at 3am for a Royal Wedding viewing party followed by a dentist appointment and then work. I started my fast at 6:30 am after the Royal Wedding and planned to do a 30.5 hour fast hoping to to feel hunger more.
During the 30 Hour Famine, we worshipped in song, did devotionals and had small group discussions. We cleaned and did yard work as part of our Youth for Rent service projects, played games, and built cardboard shelters. Throughout the weekend I felt some slight hunger pangs, but I was never so hungry that I felt like I couldn’t do anything.
By the end of the Famine as we started our worship and sharing time before breaking the fast together, I did some reflection of my own. The recurring theme for me during the Famine weekend was that God is more than enough for each day. I don’t have to worry and I can trust Him because He provides all that I need for each day. So even though I wasn’t hungry at the end of the Famine again, this time I saw it a different way.
Maybe I wasn’t hungry because God was providing for me with what I needed at the time–I needed to be sustained to help
lead the Famine activities and to be alert for the lock-in so we could minister to the youth at the same time. Although the 30 Hour Famine is about raising awareness and funds for hunger, often times I find that God teaches us about more than that. Through the sharing time, we saw how God revealed our need to listen to Him, to obey immediately when we hear His call, how much we complain about when we have so much to be grateful for, God’s provision in fundraising and much more that wasn’t even said.
Speaking of fundraising, this year our ambitious goal was $7,500.00. I’m not sure of our exact amount for the year yet, but I do know that we raised at least 58% of it (which is pretty good!). Again this year, I kept feeling skeptical (and still do, honestly) that we’ll reach that goal. I constantly remind myself that nothing is impossible with God. And even if we don’t fully reach our goal, our youth group is able to feed so many kids with the money we raised. $30 feeds one child for a month. We’ve already been provided with more than enough. It’s a blessing to provide children around the world with even a little (a little that they see as more than enough).
How has God showed Himself to be more than enough for you?
Technically I’m going 46 days without coffee since the season of Lent doesn’t include Sundays (as a Sabbath from your fast). Although I was especially tempted in the last few weeks of the fast, I’m restraining from drinking any coffee for the entire 46 days. I never gave up anything for Lent before since it’s not part of our church’s tradition, but this year I decided to fast from coffee. Why? Because fasting is about giving up anything that comes between you and your relationship with God.
It’s not that coffee necessarily prevented me from having a relationship with God, but I realized that I definitely desired having my daily coffee more than having my daily time with God. For someone who’s trying to live more like Christ and to follow Him, that’s a problem. Just to clarify, I wasn’t completely giving up caffiene. I still allowed myself to drink tea, which worked out quite nicely because I got pretty sick the first week of the fast and drank a TON of tea.
Since then though I’ve drunk more chai than usual (and I’m starting to crave my lattes) and more water (which is a good thing anyway). I’ve also gone some days without having a hot drink in the morning (whether it be chai or hot chocolate instead of coffee). I’m not one of those people who gets caffiene headaches from not having coffee or caffiene in my system, so in that sense the fast was easy. It has been harder this past week when I’ve been rationalizing with myself that it would be okay to drink one cup of coffee because I didn’t use any of my Sabbath days. Luckily I haven’t given in to myself, but the fast is about more than just succeeding in the fast. I especially learned that from a new book we’re publishing that I’m the publicist for: Craving Grace by Lisa Velthouse. But more on that another time. 🙂
So what did I learn from this whole experience?
- I spent more time with God daily. I don’t necessarily think this was because I was fasting from coffee, but it’s more because of an accountability spreadsheet I started on Google Docs with one of the girls in my youth group to keep us both accountable for our daily devotions. It’s been really helpful for both of us because we both log in and write down the passage we read that day and then some of our thoughts about it. So we can see if the other person has or hasn’t done their devo for that day. We’re not super strict about it–like coming down hard on the other person if they miss their devo one day–but it does help us to make God more of a priority in our daily lives remembering that we’re not doing this alone. We’re both trying to spend more time in God’s Word and this spreadsheet has been really helpful in helping us to keep each other accountable in that and to see what the other person is learning.
- I realized I don’t pray enough. This realization hit me last week as I was thinking about my fast. I don’t spend enough time with God in prayer. And like really praying–not just a quick prayer thanking him for my food or the prayers I say in church or youth group. I used to keep a prayer journal, but I’ve been really bad about keeping that up lately. So last Sunday I did a long 9-mile run after church and decided not to take my iPod with me (mostly so I could carry my water bottle & also just for safety reasons). Nine miles is a long time to run without music. So during that first half of the run (like up to mile 5) I just prayed. I prayed for every person in our youth group leaders meeting and for the requests we shared that day. I prayed for my family. I prayed for Gerald and me. It was refreshing. Not only did it help to distract me from the miles I still had to go and the tiredness in my legs, but I had some wonderful time with God. I need to do this more often.
- I don’t need coffee. I knew this before, but that I’ve nearly completed my fast, I can see that I don’t always need to have coffee–especially if I’m buying it from Starbucks (which can add up). I tried avoiding Starbucks during this fast, but that only lasted a week. I did go a lot less though, also partially because I’m trying to save money for my wedding and for Gerald and my future together. Hopefully once this fast is over, I’ll remember this fact more often so that I can be a better steward of my money!
Even as I complete this coffee fast, fasting and its purpose is still on my mind as our youth group prepares for World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine. We’re going to be fasting for 30 hours while raising funds and awareness for world hunger. Our goal this year is to raise $7,500 for hunger in Haiti (which I’ll happen to be right near this summer when I go on my honeymoon to the Dominican Republic!). I’m actually going to be fasting for around 44 hours since I wasn’t hungry at all the last two years and there’s no way I’m getting up really early in the morning to eat before starting the 30 hour fast at noon on Friday, April 29. So please be in prayer for us–and if you feel led to give, we’d appreciate any donations you’d like to make to our team. You can donate online here.
So as we continue in this Holy Week, may we all be focused on Christ and what His Resurrection means in our lives. From my fast, I hope to keep up those precious times of Bible reading and prayer that draw me closer to God. Now I can even do both those things with coffee in hand. 🙂
Did you give up anything for Lent? What have you learned from the experience?