What Prompted Me to Drop the B-Word (and I Don’t Mean “Bible”) at Church

by Maile on May 15, 2013

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About a month ago a friend and I started a Bible study at our church. In anticipation of our first meeting, I thought I’d get all “super-righteous” so I decided to fast for the 24 hours preceding this inaugural gathering in order to “appropriately prepare my spirit”.

Let this be known: I’m not a fasting virgin; I’ve done this thing before, many times. In our early marriage, after reading The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, I spent a couple of months fasting on a weekly basis. I did it because Richard made it sound illuminating and invigorating. But at the end of my fasting days, I looked more like a rabid dog than an enlightened woman one rung down for the throne room of heaven. The moment the fast ended, I began dreading when it would begin again a week later.

And so it happened that during my “preparatory” fasting a month ago, I finally resigned myself to the fact that I really have no flipping idea what fasting is actually about or what the hell it’s supposed to accomplish in my life. During that 24 hours of fasting, I screamed at my children, snapped at my husband, ranted at God, and stared blankly at my open Bible. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I finally threw a hunk of raw, bloody meat to the beast that was snarling and clawing from beneath my skin (okay, actually I think it might have been a salad, but the way I tore into it looked like feeding time on the plains of the Serengeti).

During my drive to the Bible study, I berated myself for once again failing to achieve the “spiritual high” of fasting. I arrived before my group a grumpy, tired, and drained lump of a woman, not quite what I had been aiming for. So I told the ladies my story. I told them how desperately I wanted God to work in and through our time together and how I believed that fasting would help usher that hope into reality. I told them how I became more and more of a bitch with each passing stomach growl, glaring at my husband when his eyes unfortunately met my gaze, mumbling threats and curses as I prepared sandwiches for my children at lunchtime. I told them that my fasting was a complete and utter failure…and they laughed—hard.

It ended up being a great way to begin the Bible study; it cut the inevitable tension that always proceeds a gathering of new acquaintances and clearly validated the verse: “All things work together for the good for those who love the Lord.”

But still, I feel hopeless when it comes to fasting, especially as a mama. How do I seek God and His heart when I don’t have the time during the day, when the hunger rises and calls me to my knees, to spend time aligning myself with Him? Even on a full stomach, my ability to adequately handle a tantrumming 3-year old, a whining 5-year old, a pouting 8-year old, and an “every breath is a new knock-knock joke that I just made up” 9 year-old is strained. Throw in an empty stomach, cold sweats, and the shakes, and I’m just begging for failure.

So my question is this: how do moms observe the discipline of fasting in the life-giving, faith-building way that it was intended?

What has been your experience with fasting (good or bad)?

What, if any, lessons have you learned about proper fasting?

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