Today was a pretty good day, I feel less fatigue and soreness generally. The evenings are difficult because a lifetime of practice has taught me that the evening meal is the most social one, so, not eating is difficult emotionally instead of physically.
Fasting brings a clarity to the mind that I don't otherwise experience. Those who have fasted before know what I mean. Clarity of mind allows us, I think, to focus more on preparing ourselves for anything, but specifically prayer.
I never thought about preparing myself for prayer before I started reading Orthodox writers. Prayer was part of preparing myself for ministry and worship and the Eucharist, which is appropriate of course. But preparing myself to pray wasn't something I had thought of. According to St. Ignatius Brianchaninov we prepare ourselves to pray when we reject resentment and condemnation of our neighbors and realize our own sinfulness. Basically, if we actually stop blaming others for our problems and actually lo...
The war in my thoughts definitely came. I kept the fast today and found it easier to remember to pray, to get less bogged down in distracting myself. Work gave me something productive to do today that proved very helpful. I knew the evening would be a lot harder. And it has been.
I started today reading Matthew 6 and paying attention to the connections between prayer, fasting, almsgiving and not being anxious about one's life. Those passages were a comfort and helpful redirection at several points during the day. The war is between nihilistic and anxious thoughts. They sort of take turns.
How to cope to with them?
For most of my life I've tried distraction - food, music, a show... when I was younger video games were a solid way out. We all have our favorite, right? I still think none of those things are wrong in themselves, I just know I've used them as a way to escape from the war in my thoughts rather than facing them and dealing with them through prayer.
I decided today to start a fast. My goal is to make it the whole month. I aim to do a water fast for the first week and then continue to water fast on the Church’s fasting days the rest of month and eat only raw fruits or vegetables the rest of the month.
Why am I doing this?
Food is tied up with a lot of spiritual demons and fears for me. Some people might have a hard time understanding that, but I didn’t have a very disciplined way of eating growing up. I have had, to this date, a typically unhealthy American diet of too much fast food and indulgence.
One of the first times this problem really struck me as a spiritual problem was in seminary when one of my professors was preaching in chapel on John 6:25-40. The homily was about Christ as the daily bread of the believer. He said the crowd expected a feast and He called them to a fast. At the tree in the garden of Eden the devil awakened in Adam a desire for a feast without a fast. At the tree of the cross Jesus finishes and...