To be honest, the last four weeks of my life were influenced, initially, by Steve Jobs.
Reading through Isaac Walterson’s biography of Jobs early last November, the first few chapters detailed Jobs’ early childhood, high school, and college years. While in college, or, at least, in his early twenties, Jobs worked and lived, off and on, at an apple orchard and commune in Oregon. In that time, he entered a phase in his life where he ate only apples. With a considerable background in restraint, he often believed his simple diet allowed him greater pleasure. Restraint led to luxury. And though he didn’t keep this diet for most of his life, the basic principle governed everything he did, from building computers to buying homes.
But, particularly, those early moments of only-apple-eating were fasts for him. He would do without luxury on purpose.
God used that story, and that book, to finally convince me that it was time to do without my wants for awhile.
God has been calling me to engage in a fasting period in my life, and the idea was refreshing. One statement made by Jobs was that, after going without food for a period of a week, he had more energy than he had previously. I wanted to feel that.
I have fasted before from cultural things, such as media, email, phone, text messages, and even different food fasts, but a three-week time was a bit different, especially if I were to change the way I eat.
I didn’t feel compelled to do a complete food fast, though. Not that it would be impossible, but, let’s be honest. We.Are.Surrounded.By.Food.
Literally. We have so much food available at our disposal, that we throw much of it in the trash. Seriously. Every American throws away, on average, every day, one pound of consumable food. Which means that Americans waste, every year, 27 percent of food available and good for consumption. We literally throw in the garbage food that can be eaten.
I don’t believe my decision to forego a complete food fast was wrong, though. I have done it before, but there are many other variables now. Specifically, five other people in my family. I share an evening meal with my family every night, and to make a decision this drastic would be too much of a burden upon them, and myself. I didn’t want my fast to burden then, so I needed a slight modification.
Hence, I decided upon what is known as the “Daniel Fast.”
Drawn from the first chapter of Daniel, it is a reference to Daniel’s refusal to eat the foods of the Babylonians, instead eating only the required Jewish diet. His was a purposeful fast, saying, simply, that he and his compatriots would be just fine with what their ethnic, and moral, laws prescribed. Their “fast,” too, became a challenge. So diligent was their faith in God, and in their Jewish diet, that they were completely confident that their bodies would be in better physical shape than the other forced slaves in the court of the king. And they were right.
So, true to form, I fasted from all meats, all sweets, and leavened breads. And though the three-week time has ended, I have entered into a modified form of the fast, with no foreseeable plans to end.
My own personal journey was amazing. There were distinct difficulties, though, and, true to a time of fasting, I felt an immediate need to draw upon God’s spirit and nourishment. Since the fast was, specifically, a denial of pleasure food, there were sharp prayers of recognizing that God can only fill every need … and every want … that I could ever have.
Here are a few things I’ve discovered along the way:
- An increase in physical energy. Seriously. After the second week, I felt great. Better than I have felt in a long time.
- An increase in reliance prayers. Granted, I was not in a situation that could have resulted in a physical deterioration, but, as an American, with access to so much, I prayed prayers situating my reliance on God. He, and He alone, can satisfy my wants. That is more intense than you think. We know God satisfies our needs. But our wants are altogether different. There is a bit of selfishness within all of us concerning our own preferences. Moreover, our world is filled with immediate satisfaction for every single want — especially food and cravings. When I distanced myself from those, I could only fill it with the presence of God. There was something very refreshing about this, and very needed. My wants aren’t as wanted as they once were.
- An increase in spiritual attacks. Seriously. No need to divulge those here, but there have been some intense things thrown my way. My wife even commented today that immediately after Jesus’ fast he endured rigid temptation. I didn’t see this coming, but I believed that, with God’s sustenance, I could weather these storms. And they aren’t over, but, in the words of George Mueller, if God fails me this time, then it will be the first time. I learned the truth of that statement that, I think, could only be learned during a time of fasting and prayer.
Use fasting times to pray diligent prayers. God is calling us for a deeper faith — not a bigger faith, but a deeper faith. There is more to our journey with God than we have even experienced. Use a fast, like this, to change perceptions and opinions, and to expose our own reliance on things other than God.
You will speak to God in ways you never thought you could.