Last thursday, I participated in a day of fasting and prayer. We've done this about once a year at Covenant-First -- once before a leadership retreat, once before the 40 Days of Purpose campaign. This time, it was a season of about 14 days leading up to an important event: the trial of an individual who brutally victimized one of the members of our congregation. Our deacons set up a schedule -- volunteers picked one of the 14 days and fasted during it, so there was someone different on each day.
My day of fasting was reasonably calm -- I fasted from 9pm Wednesday to 9pm Thursday. I tried not to make a big deal about it (though at Rotary, I did get some questions when I turned down my meal). Every time I felt hungry, I used that as a reminder to pray -- for our congregation member's emotional healing, for repentence on the part of the perpetrators, for our congregation to demonstrate the love of Christ in this trying time.
Later in the day, I found myself really hungry, and added to my prayers praise for the abundance that we do have. I begin to slightly understand what it means to go without food, and I have more empathy for those who go without on a regular basis -- I prayed for the hungry around the world (and this took me back to thinking about the much earlier post sometimes its good to go hungry. By the end of the day, I was cranky, had a headache, and disoriented. A powerful reminder of human frailty.
Not only did we share some pretty astounding stories about the spiritual insights we gained, but we also believe that there was some serious spiritual impact that was done. The offender was convicted, and he will be off the streets for quite some time, keeping our congregation member out of further trouble. He also might be willing to identify the names of his accomplices, which would further put this congregation member's mind at ease.
I do wonder -- ought we work fasting into our spiritual lives more often -- not as an excercise to impress God (little chance of that), but as a reminder of our dependence, our frailty, and our need for compassion. Ought we do it, simply as a matter of obedience, for it seems that Jesus takes it as a matter of course that his disciples will fast. Do any of you other readers have neat experiences about fasting that you'd like to share? Please post a comment.