I don’t usually participate in Lent (for no particular reason), but I do practice regular bouts of sacrifice. At the beginning of the year, my husband and I usually do a spiritual fast consisting of water, juice and Daniel's fasts. Throughout the year, if I need to connect spiritually, or if I need to give my body a break, I'll engage in a fast as well. Spiritual connection is usually my main motivation for a fast, especially if I'm doing extended water fasts, maybe seven days or more. God and prayer is the only way this chocolate-loving heathen can get through several days with not even a bite of avocado. Seriously, though, I find fasts a great way to practice discipline and prove to myself that most things, anything is possible.
I started off with juice fasts, because my mom has been drinking fresh juice every morning for as long as I can remember, at least thirty years. It's to the point where she carries her juicer with her, even when she travels and stays in hotels. Yes, people. She juices in the hotel room. We're talking serious commitment here. However, I saw the benefits she's received over the years, so I started juicing in my late twenties. Then, I noticed her water fasts: three days a month every month. And, on her birthday month, a full seven days of water. I used to think she was crazy, until I heard a sermon from Pastor Dennis (Victory World Church) about thirteen years ago, where he was calling the church to do the annual twenty-one day spiritual fast. I was new to that church, and I'd heard of religious fasts. I actually remember doing the sun up, sun down thing in my twenties as well. Anyhoo, I remember thinking in my head, "I'll fast the internet or tv or something." You know, cuz that was an option. But something kept calling me to do more. So that year, I did like three days water, because I'm an overachiever, and the rest of the time I think Daniel and juice. (My husband and I do them together; it helps to have a partner in crime here). Then the next year, I did more days water, and the next, more. And then, I would do shorter fasts throughout the year. Within three years, I was up to about twelve days water only, and then the balance in juice and/or Daniel. When I think about the health benefits on top of the spiritual benefits, it's a no-brainer.
You don't really get hungry, you know. I mean, you will want to eat. Truthfully, most of us have enough reserves to go several days without food, hahaha. It's really more psychological. You're used to eating during the day, and we're creatures of habit. So, the flesh wants what it wants (as does the heart). After the first few days, though, your body settles in, and you don't have those cravings. Your breath is fresher, your tongue is a perfect pink, and your sweat is no longer salty. It is truly a beautiful thing. If you're interested in getting going, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Start with God first, or something bigger than you. I call it God, but you do you :). Either way, it helps to be able to call on something bigger than you for strength. If you're that strong enough on your own, then have at it! (Let me know how it works out for you).
- Whenever you get hungry, go to your quiet place, not to be confused with the sunken place (Get Out reference), lol. Go inside. Pray, meditate, etc. This will help the "hunger" pass.
- Start small. Don't dive in trying a ten day water fast. Ease into it. Maybe 24 hours on juice, then move into water.
- Keep your activity to a minimum the first few days. Give your body an opportunity to adjust to its new surroundings.
- Remember why you're doing it. It will help motivate you when you want to stop.
Hope this helps, and feel free to keep me updated on your progress! Godspeed!