Chapter 8: A Man and Fasting
Today we continue with the series of excerpts from my new book, A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines. Visit our web location for numerous additional audio, video, and print resources on the Spiritual Disciplines.
Fasting involves giving up something you normally do, for the purpose of focusing more time and attention on God. Rather than making the case for fasting, let me simply tell you about some of my own experiences with fasting.
Fasting for an Ailing Friend . . . and with Many Leaders
In 1985, a friend developed incurable hepatitis B. In 1989, he was going downhill for a lot of reasons, so I committed to fast one day a week for him until he was healed. I would skip dinner at night, then breakfast and lunch the following day, resuming meals with dinner the following night. I went about my normal business, though I would get fatigued in the afternoons and sometimes would lie down for a ten- or twenty-minute nap. I did that for forty weeks.
A lot of other people were praying for my friend too, so I want to be careful not to suggest a one-to-one correlation here. Nevertheless, my friend was completely healed.
In December of 1994, Bill Bright initiated a special day of fasting and called a meeting of leaders in Orlando, I joined the six hundred who were fasting and decided to try the forty-day fast he challenged us to attempt. I bought a juicer and started the fast. After a week, my appetite was completely gone. However, after about the tenth day, I started to become irritable. I became more and more irritable every day. On the fourteenth day, I had to pull the plug on it. I figured, “I am not made to do a forty-day fast.”
Later that year, we needed some direction at our ministry, Man in the Mirror, so I called for a day of prayer and fasting. There were five of us at the time, and I was surprised to learn the other four had never fasted. That was in 1995. Today this ministry touches millions of men, and we always point right back to that meeting. Fasting released spiritual power, and the results are still being seen more than a decade later.
From 1995 to 2005 I fasted one day a week—a twenty-four-hour fast from dinner to dinner, skipping breakfast and lunch. I could pretty much handle my normal schedule, because it was not an extended period.
I do not currently fast. In late 2004 I started racing sports cars for recreation. By early 2005, I realized I needed to increase my endurance for racing, so began a rigorous one-hour per day workout schedule. Right now fasting doesn’t fit into my physically demanding schedule, so I have completely stopped.
Certainly I feel no less connected to God. In the future I will no doubt again fast, perhaps regularly—I don’t know. For now, I have other ways to express my devotion to God. And I certainly never thought fasting made me “better,” so not fasting sure doesn’t make me any “worse.”
You can learn more about how to experiment with fasting by getting a copy of the book at any bookstore, amazon.com, or go to www.maninthemirror.org. If for some reason you cannot afford the book but fasting is a passionate concern for you right now, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will see that you get the fasting chapter.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
Pat Morley, Ph.D.