If you read the title quickly you'd think I had said "feasting." Or, if you know me, you'd assume I merely left out a letter. Alas, it's not the case. I will, in fact, be fasting for 21 days. Beginning now. Well, technically beginning two hours ago (12:00am on Saturday January 2nd for those of you who don't read this the very moment I post it. And why don't you, anyway??) :)
Anyway, my church begins each year with a corporate fast. The main body of the church follows this schedule: Week 1: Cut down all eating to two meals a day (no snacks). Week 2: Still no snacks, and only one meal a day. You can drink juice and have broth when you're not officially "eating a meal." Week 3: no meals. Juices and broths only. Well, "soup" is ok but it can't be like steak and potatoes soup. More along the lines of Cream of Potato.
Now, this fast doesn't work well for everyone. I will be honest and tell you right now that this fast did not work well for me. Why is that? Because it messes up my already not-happy metabolism, because I would gorge myself during my "meals" and then starve for the rest of the day. Of course, the point of a fast is not to change the rules in order to make it easy, mind you, but there is a consideration for dietary needs. Someone who has diabetes, for example, may choose to fast other things rather than food, or they may fast one type of food (like all junk food) and also fast television. In the past two years, however, I have found a structure that works well for me. I didn't think I was going to do it again this year until I was on the phone with a friend and it hit me that yes, I need to do this. What I do is eat by three simple rules: No Meat, No Wheat, No Processed Foods. In the spirit of Full Disclosure, "no processed foods" isn't always a literal rule. What I try to do with that rule, however, is remind myself that Doritos are not allowed.
So I can eat as much as I want, as often as I want, but I can't have sandwiches (If you know where I work you know how hard this is), spaghetti (the only thing I can cook well), chicken (the only other thing I can cook), or Macaroni and Cheese (seriously people, this really cuts out everything I normally eat). The additional twist is that I don't have the money this year to spend on buying salads every day, so I actually have to budget for what I will eat, go to the store and buy enough to keep me from eating my fingers but not soo much that it goes bad, and I have to remember every day to bring it in to work. If those aren't things that will remind me to pray every day, I don't know what will.
Also, we were all urged to consider fasting something in addition to food this year. Since I don't watch TV at all, that's not an option. I could choose to fast Facebook or email or (gasp) blogging, but right now I consider any sort of social networking system a part of my attempt to grow towards creating income outside of my workaday world, so those are out. But one thing I can give up, and one thing that will make me really aware that I'm doing it is... sleep. Yes, I have decided to give up one hour of sleep a day for the next 21 days. What that means is instead of getting up at 7 for my 9-6 job, I will now get up at 6, and try desperately hard to stay awake long enough to read the Bible (or books about the Bible), listen to worship music, and otherwise spend time alone with God. I'm kinda excited about this, although since it is 2am and I have to get to the office for a little while I am already realizing that a whole hour is going to be interesting.
But I think it's going to be worth it. So what I will be doing now is keeping up with an additional blog. This blog is essentially my online faith journal, and you are under absolutely no obligation to check it out, but if you have any interest in following along with my fast (and hopefully this will go much longer than the 21 days), please check out http://momentsofmajesty.blogspot.com/. Who knows, maybe God will speak to you through this blog. I certainly hope He does, should you choose to stop by. But never fear, Out of the Extraordinary is my primary blog and I will be keeping up on it as well. So please continue to follow and leave your comments... I don't think I would still be doing this if not for all the support I've gotten from you wonderful people.
So, here's to 21 days of fasting and prayer. I pray that I will have the strength to overcome my physical urges and the wherewithal to persevere, and that my ears and my heart would be open to what God has for me in this next 3 weeks. And I pray the same for you, dear reader.
Do you fast ever? What do you fast, and for how long? I'd love to hear some of your stories.