DELVE - Extended Fast Info
Extended fast information
I am over the top excited for those of you who are considering a longer fast, such as the four day fast from September 11 through Delve; or even longer. Should this be your first attempt at a longer fast, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Though many of you have the ability to go without food for prolonged periods of time with little to no affect to your bodies. However, not everyone’s physical make up can sustain these ongoing conditions and may prevent you from participating. If so, then consider fasting from something else for a longer period instead like all social media, TV, shopping, coffee, junk-food or alcohol, to list a few.
If you have any questions regarding your health and ability to carry on a longer fast; please CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE PROCEEDING.
Longer fasts don’t necessarily demand a monk-like existence but your life will be affected, therefore do take some time to look over your calendar before making that final decision.
Is your calendar full of meetings during meals? Does it include team sports you can’t miss? Is it abundantly full, busy and pressure filled? Have you committed to parties and/or gatherings you’ve been invited to?
These won’t 100% restrict your fast, although working out and/or playing sports while fasting should be resisted. There may be seasons more appropriate as you consider your schedule.
Under this point I simply encourage you to read the information on the Westside website here regarding the reasons to fast. Longer fasts are not meant to be used as a form of cleansing, weight loss, asceticism or penance. Your motive in a longer fast, first and foremost, should be to draw closer to Jesus and have Him, by way of the Spirit, move, work and draw close to you.
Your Friends and/or Family
A longer fast will affect those you live with or are close to you. As a result you will need as much of their support as they can provide you. On longer fasts I’ve had the ability, at times, to sit in on family meals but most often the smells and the sight of food were too overwhelming; thus I often times chose to go for a walk while they ate. This obviously affected them, and me, but because we talked about things on the front end there were few issues as we moved ahead.
Other things to consider and to be aware of:
The early days of a fast will prove to be the most difficult.
For me days 1, 3 and 4 are always the hardest followed (interestingly enough) by days where hunger was hardly an issue to me. This is not to say that later on there weren’t days where hunger became very real, being aware that the early days are usually some of the hardest for me, helps me prepare.
Tied into this are parts of the day where hunger is most present. For me, this falls between 3 and 6 in the afternoon, for you it may be different. What this meant for me was that I needed to get outside (if my schedule and the timing worked) walk and listen to worship music or go on a prayer walk which helped take my mind off the hunger.
Use meal times as prayer times
If you normally have your devotions in the morning, then use the lunch and dinner hours to pray, read, journal and meditate. I can’t encourage you enough to get outside to walk in prayer. In fact, one of the reasons I like doing longer fasts in the early fall is that weather is still good enough to get outside without having to deal with bad weather.
Things will get “loud”
As you carry on in a longer fast you can expect your spiritual awareness and sensitivity to be heightened; it’s something that physical hunger seems to bring. With every hunger pang will be a call to Spirit-dependence which results in the desire to remove the “noise” that we often fill our lives with and pursue the Spirit instead.
Tied to this, make sure to reflect on the things the Spirit is revealing to you that your physical hunger is bringing to light. Some questions to consider: Do you hunger spiritually for Jesus with the same passion you hunger for food? Is the Word of God something you feed on in the same way you devote yourself to the “bread” you eat? Do you use food to pacify or medicate you when things aren’t going well?
Some other common questions
Can I only drink water?
That’s up to you. On longer fasts I allow myself some fruit and vegetable juice at meal times but I am very specific in what I have and the amount I take in. I have talked with others who allow themselves some consommé at meal times. Personally, I think it would be very hard to do a longer fast and survive; only on water to function properly and alertly, however you may disagree and wish to go on water alone.
Additionally, be aware that at about the five day mark your breath will begin to worsen. “Without regular meals or fluid the mouth slows its production of saliva. Without this bacteria fighting moisture in your mouth your tongue and palate can start breeding billions of extra bacteria” (www.thebreath.com), so consider carrying some mints or gum to help cover things up.
What about caffeine?
I allow myself coffee during my longer fasts but don’t drink much because I find that it’s very hard on an empty stomach. You may wish to not drink coffee, which is great, but be aware that you most likely will experience headaches in the first week as your body adjusts to going without caffeine.
How should you end your fast?
You have to be careful. Although there will be a temptation to go and celebrate with a big meal your body, most likely, won’t be able to handle it. I would encourage you to transition back with some lighter soup or fruit so your body has a chance to adjust before ordering that large pepperoni pizza and chocolate shake.
Lastly, this article addresses the more practical side of fasting so please make sure to read the info on the reasons for fasting also provided here on our website, as mentioned earlier, if you haven’t done so. If after reading both articles you choose to move forward with a longer fast then I pray God’s richest blessing on you. I can promise you a rich, hard, wonderful, grace-filled and strengthening time, a time where as you draw close to God He will draw close to you.