Last Sunday’s post about sharing our spiritual struggles was really the introduction for this week’s post, my groaning to reach what I strive for. My confession is that my normal joy of fasting has been mired in a season of misery.
For most of the past ten years, I’ve pursued a 24-hour fast from food once a week. I often talk about this, not to call attention to myself, but to encourage others to pursue it: if I can do it, so can you.
Fasting has not been a burden, but a pleasure that draws me closer to God, heightens my prayers, and focuses my thoughts. Most weeks, I look forward to it, and most of those weeks, I find what I seek. While not every fast goes as anticipated, most do – until last winter.
I fast on Thursdays, so when Thanksgiving rolls around, I skip that week. Last Thanksgiving was no exception, but afterwards I struggled mightily to resume my routine of fasting. More times than not, I fell short.
It took six months of effort, agony, and despair to reverse my fasting failures, but once again, I have mostly resumed my weekly fast. Though my fasts do again draw me to God, sharpen my prayers, and focus my attention, they have not been easy. I must strive to start my fast, strive to maintain it, and strive to end it well.
I don’t know if this is the new normal or if, with persistence, things will one day return to the old normal. What I do know is that for those who struggle with fasting, you are not alone.