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But What If It Hurts?

Around the nation and in many parts of the world, people have begun the new year by fasting. God asks us to fast. Jesus said that his disciples would fast (Matt. 9:14-15). But in most western countries, we do the opposite. We gorge. We grow addicted to eating. People go to counselors because of …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Around the nation and in many parts of the world, people have begun the new year by fasting. God asks us to fast. Jesus said that his disciples would fast (Matt. 9:14-15).

But in most western countries, we do the opposite. We gorge. We grow addicted to eating. People go to counselors because of their food issues.

I grew up fasting. Not because I was spiritual, but because I was a wrestler and had to make weight. At one point I had to lose about 30 pounds. 

So I became well-acquainted with the gnawing pain that attends a fast. I probably needed to go to a counselor for my food issues.

This morning a World Racer wrote me about fasting: 

I have been battling with fasting the whole race. But today, I felt an extra pull and Jesus spoke that it was time. I have fasted for a few days at a time, but I’ve always told myself that I could never do 40 days – there’s just no way and I’m afraid.

My question for you is, how do you not only overcome that fear, but also that doubt? Nothing in me wants to be fearful or doubtful, but for some reason I have just always thought “I could never do it.”

Good question. Can you relate to feeling fear about the prospect of a long fast? Where does fear like that come from and how do we beat it? 

Many of us are simply addicted to comfort. We’ve not known what it feels like to be hungry for an extended period of time. We’ve not had much experience enduring physical pain, so we worry about whether we can defeat it.

Pick your reason why fasting seems hard. The question is, if you sense that you should, will you say yes or no? It’s that simple. 

And if you say yes, how do you beat your fear? Perhaps a one-day fast seems doable, but anything much longer seems impossible.

First, my suggestion is that you recognize that you may be an addict. A comfort addict. As addictions go, it’s respectable enough. Only in recent history has there ever been the expectation that you could live with such comfort. Economic and technological progress has given us this gift.

Second, learn from AA and take it a day at a time. Is God calling you to fast for three weeks? Just start by fasting a day. And if you make it through the day, then do it again the next day. 

If you feel fear looking at three weeks, just focus on doing it a day at a time.

Have you ever done an extended fast? Why or why not? What worked for you?

Comments (7)

  • I am glad to see you add “if you feel God calling you to fast”..just because we decide sometimes that we will do a such and such day fast does not always mean that God is in it. Some fast for the wrong reasons of course but the “grace” to fast long term comes from a supplied source of him and there is a difference. I fasted for 19 days once and saw God supplying and since I have tried in myself because I had a notion it might move my answer to prayer sooner..wrong. God is at the source of the beginning and the end of it. If you question when to stop you can try taking one bite and you may find yourself spitting it out very fast…other times it just lifts sooner than u planned. God TEACHES thru fasting. Be open to learning also And The sweet communion accompanying it .

  • Great post Seth! Starting the second day, and as I begin my time with the Lord, He is taking that fear away bit by bit. Of course, I ask for forgiveness in my fear and doubt. but i am already feeling empowered by looking at just one day at a time.
    I also love that you touched on people being addicts to comfort. It is so true. We, as humans, and especially american’s love our comfort and many of us, sadly, will never push ourselves into discomfort – even american Christian’s will avoid discomfort.
    It truly does boil down to an ultimatum: will you choose to push yourself and listen or will you avoid.
    Thanks for a great post!

  • aww, well thank you. But all the glory to the Lord for what He is doing with everyone and the nations through this fast! 🙂

  • God’s called me to fast this whole week. I don’t want to, but I know it’s from Him. So, out of obedience I’m choosing to say, “yes.” I look forward to experiencing victory on Saturday night.

    In answer to your question: I’ve been on a 21 day fast before. What made it easier – and even fun – was that a majority of our church was taking part, so there was a camaraderie involved. There was not only encouragement, but also great discussion about expectations, praying together, and even some fun times scheduled as a church around the act of fasting. We chose to celebrate rather than moan about how hungry we were. It was a great experience

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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