Diary of a Hangry Faster
When some people declare they are hangry the response from people around them may be a giggle, perhaps a witty joke and some mildly humorous banter but when I declare I’m hangry… people run. I’m glad the word exists; it’s a perfect summary. I once cried in bitter hanger because the toaster was being too slow. Nightmare.
As you can imagine, fasting is not a spiritual discipline I have raced to indulge in. Firstly I needed some convincing on what it was about and why the absence of something (especially food), could be anything but a nightmare, and secondly it was difficult to know how to negotiate this new world of purposeful hunger.
The first thing I realised when looking at the Bible was that being hungry and emotional whilst fasting was actually a good combination. In the Bible people often fasted, mourned and cried out to God:
“And in every province, wherever the king's command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.” (Esther 4:3)
When looking at scripture to see why and when people fasted I began to understand that this seemingly drastic measure (I am a crisp addict) was in response to a desperate situation or revelation. Not only did the Jews mourn, weep, fast and lament in the book of Esther but Queen Esther also fasted alongside her fellow women before she put her life on the line to stand up for the justice of her people.
This challenged me.
And the refugee crisis has challenged me.
And so I decided to fast for the first time to pray for the refugee crisis.
Before I fasted I sought some advice from a close friend who is fast-tastic. She advised me to start off small and not commit to a whole day, so I decided I would eat one evening meal and keep hot drinks. On my very first fasting day the person I met with MADE BREAD. Actual BREAD. That beautiful bread smell that seeps through the whole house filling you with the aroma of hope… I had to fast through it. And it was tricky. Every time I was tempted to swipe a bit of bread or my stomach hummed in impatience I remembered my God and remembered my cause.
That day was hard but I was overwhelmed by how focussed I became on my prayer to God. Sometimes it was a simple crying out in my mind of ‘Jesus, Jesus Jesus!’ whilst my stomach reminded me of the need for survival. Sometimes my empty stomach prompted me to think on the loneliness and isolation of people living in war. At times the audible growl I could hear caused me to thank God for those refugees who had fled to safety and started to rebuild their lives.
On my first fasting day God showed me how the relinquishing of my need and desire helped me to concentrate on His. It blew me away. I was more focussed in prayer throughout that day than I ever thought I could be.
Since then I have understood that my irritability and growly impatience for the things I need can be harnessed for good when presented to God. I understood it as a tool and loving sacrifice to the God I love, to bring to Him a cause, to mourn with Him, or to long to know him better.