Fasting With A Medical Condition
Welcome to the Ethos blog. The following post was written in a past season of prayer and fasting, but we still find it to be full of wisdom, practicality, and insight. If you find errors (past dates, etc) — we hope you'll graciously overlook those as you mine for pearls of wisdom here.
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The following blog post was written by Audrey Wright last year before Fast Forward began. Audrey is an Ethos family member, and she's usually at the Cannery on Sunday mornings. She has taken the time to write a blog focusing on fasting when you are medically unable to fast from food — we hope this blog will be a blessing to you. And please share this with anyone you know who may be medically unable to fast from food!
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I’m going to be honest. When I first heard about our church’s initiative to fast and pray for 30 days, panic swept over me.
Only two weeks before, a doctor had looked at me and said, “I need you to eat every three hours.” How was it going to make me look if my house church or my friends or my co-workers were fasting from lunch or food in some way and I was over at my desk slamming down a Fido burger? Was there a place for me to participate? Would it look like I was less disciplined or less devoted to Jesus? Even worse — would it make me look weak?
These were all thoughts and fears I wrestled with for the first few weeks—but more than anything, I started worrying that perhaps I didn’t have enough faith.
As I began pressing into God’s heart though, the Holy Spirit whispered this verse to me. “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13).
Wow. All the delicate parts of my body — He knows them! He knows the way my body is made. And He knows yours too!
I started realizing a couple of things.
God calls us all into different seasons. Our sacrifices to Him can often look different and there is no shame in that! He cares about the heart of our sacrifice.
Fasting from food because we’re concerned about being compared to our peers completely misses the heart of fasting.
We are known by God. God desires us to take care of our bodies. He gives us wisdom and discernment and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know what steps to take next.
Even with a medical condition, there are so many different ways we can join our church and our community in seeking God’s heart!
Place Your Heart (and body before God)
It’s very easy to become confused when we think about fasting with a medical condition. I know for me, it’s brought up a lot of hard questions about healing, prayer, and sacrifice. As you begin to walk into this season of prayer and fasting, I would encourage you to spend time in prayer. Place your heart before His and let Him soften it in the places that might be hard. Don’t let the fear of comparison or the insecurity that you aren’t doing enough keep you from growing with Him. If you seek Him, He without a doubt will give you direction.
A few practical ways to fast:
A Partial Fast: In the Bible, we see Daniel taking part in what Dave describes in his eBook as a “partial fast.” A partial fast is where you choose to fast from certain foods that might be a regular (and I’d argue desirable) part of your diet. In Daniel 1:12 we see that Daniel abstained from rich foods and wine and chose instead vegetables and water. Even with certain dietary needs and restrictions, almost everyone can participate in a partial fast. Choose certain parts of your regular diet and fast from certain foods while still ensuring you gain the nutrients you need.
Here are some ideas:
Fast from coffee, Soda, or tea
Fast Sugar or Treats
Fast processed foods (i.e. chips, crackers, bread)
Fast from a snack you eat on the regular but that isn’t essential to your diet.
Fast from meat.
Fast from fast food or takeout. Pray while you cut up vegetables or take the extra time to cook a meal.
A Soul Fast: We live in a hectic culture with many distractions. Another option for fasting with a medical condition is a soul fast — a fast where we eliminate certain things that might hinder us from spending intimate time in prayer.
Often, my first thought when getting home is, “I can’t wait to watch Netflix.” I spend a good majority of my time with my nose in media—news articles, social media, and podcasts. I text my friends all night or spend an hour on the phone with my boyfriend. None of these are inherently bad, but I wonder—what would happen if I instead came home and dove into the Word? What if I chose to turn on some worship music and sit with God? What if I took away all the noise and distractions?
Here are some ideas:
Fast from TV/movies
Fast social events (maybe you leave your calendar a little more open so that you have a little more intentional time in prayer)
Fast from social media
Turn off your phone at a certain time each day or set it away from you as you spend time in prayer.
Fast from something that you turn to instead of God. (For me, I have a habit of compulsively buying things when I’m stressed or afraid. Maybe for you it’s something different)
The biggest thing I want to encourage you in is that you are seen, known, and understood by a good and loving God. You do not need to explain your fasting decisions to your peers or to your community. God knows your heart — after all, He made all the delicate parts of your body! I believe that God has great things for us in this journey and I’m praying that He guides us and sustains us in all the ways that we need!