This continues a series based on chapters from Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.
Fasting may be the most mis-understood of the disciplines we've covered so far. In fact, not eating by choice may seem unhealthy to us. In fact, Foster alludes to this when he states, "Perhaps in our affluent society fasting involves a far larger sacrifice than the giving of money." However rare, fasting can be one of the most rewarding of the disciplines, because fasting gives us increased opportunities to focus on other disciplines.
In order to be a discipline, fasting must be done with God in mind- anything else and it is merely selfish in motive. Fasting in the Christian faith, is not a diet, or a way to get what you want (from others, or from God), but it is a way to enter into intimacy with God through escaping indulgence and other "needs."
Before considering fasting, be sure you're healthy enough. Someone that has been sick, or has another medical condition should seek the advice of a physician before deciding what is best. When you begin fasting, start out with a small, partial fast (allow yourself to have juices), and work your way up to only drinking water, and maybe longer periods of fasting. View it like running long distances- you can't start out running a 10K, so start out with a small amount and work up.
The physical effects of fasting will be easy to detect, but the spiritual gains will come when you begin to look beyond yourself and your hunger, and seek God through prayers, praise, and study. Always start and end a fast with a small meal (Foster advises that it be based on fruits and vegetables).
read the other entries in this series