No Feast without the Fast
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 fulfills that true fast, a fast that restores mankind to the true feast for which they were intended.
“Do we think that He should grant us life when we are unwilling to endure death? Must He show mercy when we refuse to be merciful to others? And should He give us a place in paradise when we will not abide with Him in the desert? No, dear friends, it is certainly good to look forward to the feast but let us also endure the fast. For in Christ fasting is not the rejection of the feast, but a salutary preparation for the true feast that comes. It is the hungry who truly rejoice in the wedding banquet. It is those who sorrow over their sins that understand the meaning of forgiveness. It is those who struggle with death that truly yearn for the resurrection. So Christ is our daily bread. In Him is the life that overcomes death. In His Body is the bread that sustains even when there is no food. In His Blood is the drink that satisfies even when we find ourselves in the desert and the hour is late.” - Rev. Dr. James Bushur, Concordia Theological Seminary
At the time it struck as an utterly unique sermon. I don’t recall ever hearing one like it and it stood out to me. I had never fasted before. It was never talked about. I have struggled with fasting a lot. My attempts have been feeble at best. The reasons are a little complicated, but fasting triggers a war in my thoughts that I didn’t have to confront before Orthodoxy, tied up with anxieties about meaning of life. Perhaps I will say more about that in the coming month.
While I could justify a fast just for health reasons, my primary reason is spiritual. I don’t like the way thoughts about “the food I want” intrude into my mind when I’m stressed or how essential it seems to enjoying myself in any way. If you have similar struggles as I do with food, anxiety or nihilism (my persistent thought that I war against for as long as I can remember) then I hope this series will be an encouragement to you. Finding fulfillment in any of our passions is a deception of the enemy and fasting with prayer is a spiritual tool for a spiritual problem, which is what mine primarily is.
So this is my fasting journal on the road to learning that life is more than the food I want. I look forward to sharing daily updates with you here.