Is God Interested In Simply An Empty Stomach?

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fasting‘‘..... I am a devoted Christian; I used to fast very often, sometimes one week, other times three days without food. I did this quite often till I had acute gastritis, which later developed into peptic ulcer. Because of this I cannot fast anymore.

The pains do not permit an empty stomach…’’- says a close friend. He is also a leader in my church.  What does this tell us about fasting? Does this means that fasting is bad and always leads to sicknesses like ulcer? Before I proceed, I would like to state categorically that this article is not intended to discourage us from fasting, but to examine ourselves before we take a decision on fasting.

Fasting is a period of abstinence from all food or specific items. Medically, fluids are consumed in sufficient quantity to satisfy thirst and physiologic requirements during fasting. Starvation will occur only when the body is forced to use vital tissue to survive. Because of starvation, proteins are used by the body during the fast. That is, a person fasting for several days on water is not likely to suffer a deficiency of protein, vitamins, minerals or fatty acids. But is strength the only important consideration during periods of fasting?

Let’s step back a bit to consider why Christians fast in the first place. According to research, the freer the body is of toxic materials flowing through the blood and lymphatic system, the clearer and the greater the ability to think. One’s mind becomes clearer which ultimately enhances the ability to think. This is what happens when you subject yourself to fasting and perhaps among the most important reasons why Christians fast.

Fasting improves mental clarity and also lifts the brain fog. This helps one to concentrate and pray with greater and ‘smarter’ efficiency. There are several instances in the Bible where fasting yielded greater impacts than without it. The city of Nineveh was saved because the people decided to pray and fast. Other people fast for other specific reasons such as rapid weight loss, detoxification, before medical manipulations, during certain sicknesses such as arthritis, asthma, and high blood pressure. The purpose of this article however, is to explore and examine in greater detail, some of the medical and spiritual implications of fasting, what to do and not do and smart ways of fasting to achieve greater outcomes or impact.

I Corinthians 8:13 states that ‘…, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.’ It is becoming increasingly clear that certain believers by virtue of their status in our churches have decided to ‘eat meat’ regardless of the consequences it may have on fellow brethren. A Christian that has chosen not to fast for whatever reason is either demonized or at best, chastised as ‘aiding and abetting the enemy.’

As a believer myself, I understand and appreciate the many benefits of fasting and more importantly, prayers. As a medical practitioner, I also appreciate and respect the science and sometimes, the art of healthy living. Many of us are sick with incurable diseases because we did not respect the basic ethics of living. The manner we fast can affect the human systems in many negative ways. It is very sad and unfortunate that those who visit various prayer and healing camps are further subjected to severe acts of fasting and prayer without properly orienting these ‘innocent’ believers about the dangers.  I believe many have become victims to additional sicknesses and many will if the right way to fast is not properly taught.

Before I become a victim of chastisement (despite the fact that I recently completed a three day fasting myself), let’s be practical about some of the implications that have already been emphasized. I will first start with something that relates closely to the topic of this article, that is, the myths about fasting.

Stay tuned for Part Two 

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