The idea of fasting, refraining from food, water, or other things, has been around for a long time. We read it in Scripture quite frequently.
Matthew 4:2 (KJV)
And when he (Jesus) had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
Matthew 6:17 (KJV)
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
Acts 14:23 (KJV)
And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
Yet, how many of us in the believers' circle actually devote time and energy to fasting? Really, prior to my studying the Hebrew roots of Christianity I tossed the idea around but never really dived in. Then as I began following the Jewish calendar I began practicing a limited amount of fasting. I would do partial fasts during the traditional fast days. Often I would skip one meal and then I would juice for another. But when Yom Kippur would come up I hesitated to fast for the proscribed 24-25 hours. Here again I would do partial fasts so that I could continue to take the various vitamins and supplements that I have in my regimen. This meant that I would continue drinking water and would skip one meal.
But yesterday, I completed the first almost total fast for Yom Kippur. I did drink water (or black coffee). As I skipped breakfast and lunch I felt absolutely fine. When the dinner hour was approaching I found myself with a budding headache. This could have been caused by the fast or any other number of things, since I'm prone to migraines. The worst part of the headache was that it affected my stomach and I began to feel lousy. It also made me very tired, so I thought maybe a short nap would help, but when I woke I felt even worse. I knew that I would not be able to continue further so I did have some almond milk. Immediately, my headache was better and my stomach calmed down. After doing dishes with my husband, we sat down and watched some dvd's until the fast was over. It took my mind off of any hunger that I was experiencing.
My problem is that I believe fasting is supposed to help our focus in prayer. During the day when I was feeling well I didn't notice any difference in my prayer times. Then when I was feeling sick I wasn't able to pray at all. I should have tried during the evening instead of watching the TV, perhaps, but it hadn't occurred to me.
I would like to hear from others about their fasting experiences. How did you handle the physical discomfort? Was prayer different during that time? Was it a valuable experience?