Tuesday, October 2, 2012

TMT (Talk to Me Tuesday)

Once again, I am so grateful to all of you who have been supporting me in this writing endeavor.   I have especially been enjoying receiving questions from some of you.  A lot of the questions I am being asked are questions that I have asked others, and I am more than happy to share what I have learned.

I received a few questions about different topics, so I will try and group them together as best I can by topic, so if you asked a question and you don’t see it right away, you will see it on another Tuesday post.  Again, if you have any questions about anything (I am not shy), go ahead and facebook me or e-mail me at artyler@mail.com.
1) Did you work your way up to your 40-day fast?
I did not work my way up to the 40 day fast.  The most I ever fasted before doing it was a 4-day fast, and even that wasn’t really a fast because I let myself have milk and broth.  My 40-day fast was God ordained, and because it was, I was given the grace to finish it.  You can most definitly do an extended fast even if God has not specifically called you to do it, but it is a little more difficult because you may not have that extra grace.  Since that 40-day fast, I have done a 10-day water only fast, a 21-day juice and water fast, and a 16 day juice and water fast.  The 40-day one was the easiest one of them all, because God specifically called me to do that one.  The other fasts were me just wanting to seek God in a fast...which there is nothing wrong with.  Fasting is a great discipline to practice, and it happens to be something I love to do in my walk with God.  But if God specifically calls you to do a fast, then He does give grace during it.   

2) How did you do it?  
Unless specifically doing a water fast, I just drink water and 100%, no sugar added fruit juice.  It is important to only drink real juice, nothing with any sugar or additives.  As far as an actual fast goes, I do not agree with using shakes, meal supplements, or even “Daniel” fasting.  A Biblical fast is about denying your body food...hunger is a part of it.  You deprive your physical being in order to enhance your spiritual being.  I feel especially in tune spiritually when I am fasting.  Also, water fasts are very different than juice ones.  I did my 40 day juice fast 6 weeks after giving birth to my 4th child and I was completely fine.  However, because of the busyness of my life, the most I will water fast is 10 days, and by the end of that I was weak.  To do an extended water fast you need to make sure your life can handle it.  If you are active or busy and unable to get adequate rest during the day, then a prolonged water fast may not be wise.  A water fast makes you very weak, and you should be resting during one.  A juice fast is different because you are able to get some calories and sugar to keep your stamina up.  
I also was careful about what I read and watched during the fast.  It is tempting to just do whatever you need to in order to pass the time, but try and resist. I did this for the first week of my fast, but then I knew I needed to get down to business.  Remember...it's not about "not eating"- it's about fasting.  Not eating is a diet, fasting is opening up your world to Jesus in a much deeper way.  Be sure and make that distinction when fasting.

3) Did you fast while pregnant?
I did not fast during any pregnancy.  Because Jeff and I practice abstinence for at least 6 weeks after having a baby, I knew with certainty that I could not have been pregnant when beginning my fast.  

4) Do you need to do any special preparations before fasting?  What about after?
If you are going to do a shorter fast (1-4 days) then you do not really need any preparation beforehand.  However, with an extended fast you do need to be very careful about how you eat before you start.  You want to make sure the day or 2 before you start that you eat a very mild diet.  Stay away from fatty or fried foods, and even watch your dairy intake.  You want to eat veggies, fruit, whole grains...just eat healthy and not too much.  The same goes for breaking your fast.  I broke my 40-day fast with about 2 ounces of mozzarella cheese (weird, I know...I was really craving cheese during the fast!) and I was on the toilet for a couple hours!  Not fun.  You really want to spend the first few days eating veggies, fruit, and broth.  Your stomach needs time to ease back into normal function.  Make sense? 

5) Do you lose weight on a fast?
Yes, you do lose weight on extended fasts, and while you do put some back on when you start eating, you can keep a lot off, depending on your eating habits after.  I know a lot of people, including myself, have second thoughts about fasting because they don't want weight loss to be the motive.  I want to address this because people tend to pretend they don't care about the weight loss and stress that that's not why they are doing it.  Listen, ignoring a natural and practical feeling or emotion does not make it go away. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that you would be happy to lose weight.  Fasts are great both spiritually and physically, and that can mean by cleaning out your insides and shedding unnecessary weight.  If you are concerned about your motives, I can tell you that your motives will become evident during your fast- if you are fasting mainly to lose weight, then you will not finish it.  I have had a couple of fasts that I was not able to finish because my motives were off.  Fasting is amazing and the physical benefits are just another great thing about them.  When your spirit is in the right place, it's ok to want the physical benefits as well. :)

Here is just a few words on fasting.  Fasting is Biblical, and it is a great discipline for a Christian to practice.  Extended fasts may not be for everyone.  Take time to seek the Lord and really find out what He wants you to do.  If you are married, then make sure to discuss this with your spouse and listen to what they have to say about you fasting.  Make sure you understand the value of it and also understand that even with grace, it is very challenging.  If you plan on doing one, I encourage you to prepare ahead of time, make sure your life is conducive to it, and don’t give up!  Hang in there, seek the Lord, listen to worship music throughout the day, and keep your mind focused on why you are doing it.  It is not easy, but you will be blessed.