What went wrong with my fasting venture Tuesday? Honestly, it was all wrong from “Go!” But my gracious God blessed me with benefits from it anyway.

Mistake #1 – I didn’t seek God’s guidance first (by prayer, Bible reading, and waiting on God to ascertain His timing.) I assumed I was doing something good, responding to a writing prompt about a “spiritual discipline.”

Related Mistake #2 – I did it for the wrong reason. Though I said we shouldn’t fast just for the sake of fasting, I did, even though I tacked on vague hoped-for results. My fast matched none of the biblical examples of my last post.

Mistake #3 – It was all flesh, just the work of (wo)man, to be expected to fail. Flesh alone can’t do a spiritual discipline. I needed the Holy Spirit working in this.

Mistake #4 – I bit off too much at once. (Pardon the pun.) Husband advised, “Keep it small.” I thought I had. But not small enough. By mid-afternoon, I could feel my metabolism, and blood sugar, drop: sluggishness, brain fog, even a tad of dizziness.

Mistake #5 – “There’s a time to every purpose,” and this was not the best one. I’d just been accomplishing  healthier eating, not too much, not too little, and steadily dropping weight, benefiting body, mind, and spirit.  (And that effort had started with prayer and involved God’s help and my self-discipline). This disruption threw my metabolism and weight loss into reverse!

Also, though it freed up lunch hour for quietness with God, by 2 PM I was just spinning my spiritual wheels, and my day got less quality time with God, all totaled, than usual!

Still, God is good. Even when I mess, He blesses.

Benefit #1 – My empty belly reminded me of African brothers and sisters who, even apart from drastic famine times, often go through a season of one meal a day. Thus, an Isaiah 58 principle kicked in.

Benefit #2 – I became painfully aware of my impulse to head toward fridge or cupboard just because it was a particular time, or because I was passing through the kitchen, even though I wasn’t authentically hungry.

Benefit #3 – I gained all the wisdom listed above about how not to fast.

So, to fast or not to fast? Both. At the proper times, with the right motives, and empowered by God.

Meanwhile, I do best to concentrate on the “fast” of Colossians 2:18-23 (Hover cursor and read) — “holding FAST to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together… grows with the increase from God.”

There’s the most important “fast,” and the most important thing to do during any food fast.

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18 thoughts on “Fasting Fail — and the Fast we all Need to Do

    1. Hi Tracey,
      I can say a big “Amen!” to that! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  1. This was an insightful post. I don’t seem to do fasts very well where I abstain from ALL food – like you getting dizzy and having brain fog, etc. My post this week was also about a type of fasting for the lenten season!

  2. Hi Esther Joy,
    I’m so glad you stopped by! I visited your post about fasting from bread and feasting on the living Bread instead. What an excellent idea! I have thought of a bread fast instead of a total fast, and you give it extra meaning. Did you set up the photo? It’s great. Thanks for your helpful comment. (Sorry I can’t comment on your website. It won’t accept my info.)

  3. Sylvia, I appreciate your honesty! Fasting is difficult, and I have definitely had a fasting fail. It sure sounds like you used this experience to learn – which I cannot say from my past fasting fail – I was afraid to try again for years. You are so right about having the proper motivation. I believe that God should always place it on our hearts. As you said in your earlier post; the point is to use that time to grow in your relationship with Christ. There are so many things we can give up in order to spend more time with God – we just need to seek God for the understanding of what that is. Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share this with all of us so we can learn!

  4. Sylvia,

    Thanks for writing so honestly! I am glad that you’ve learned invaluable lessons – isn’t it amazing how He always teaches the greatest lessons in failures?
    You’re subscribed in my RSS feeds and prayers! Let me know if there’s anything that you want me to specifically pray for.


  5. That is so true, Sharon, that there are so many things (besides food) that we can give up to spend more time with Him. Thank you for visiting and commenting. God bless!

  6. Thank you, Connie! I think I’m going to end up posting more about fasting, almost despite myself. It would be a great blessing if you would pray for God’s wisdom in this.
    And yes, we do tend to learn the most important lessons through our failings. It’s like how I got familiar with local roads: by getting lost on them!
    Prayers for you! (Any specific requests?)

  7. Hi Roseann,
    Thanks for commenting. So glad you “stopped by.”
    I’d like to comment here on your post about compassion for those closest to us, because your blog won’t accept my url. I hope you don’t mind.

    I know the pain of trying to love one addicted (a big piece of my past), and I hear these words of yours, “addiction continues to blind,” as a mouthful of huge truth. Probably bottom line. So I rejoice with you in the course you chose. It’s important to realize we can’t fix the person, and actually neither can (s)he — only God. 15 days sober is really a breakthrough, because a stumble often happens a day or two before that. And it shows the desire of the person to be free from the horrible bondage.

    Relentless prayer is probably the most helpful and powerful thing we can do. And this kind of prayer may demand more dogged long-term persistence than other petitions. Human hearts don’t move off dead center easily, and addiction is strong bondage. But never give up. “Hold fast…!” And I’ll pray with you. I don’t need to know particulars. God already does. May He bless you with sweet peace!

  8. Thanks so much for your honesty. You made me think and ponder…..Lent is not something I usually “do.” But I think the whole thing about it not having to be food but something else that “addicts” me is key. Like………word games…..online…..
    And the trade-off…..the presence of God….my words for the year.

  9. Hi Darnly,
    Oo, you hit a nerve there: word games online! Addict? Who, me? Well, yeah, maybe, just maybe. I haven’t practiced Lent, either, am trying instead to aim at an improved year-round walk and relationship with Christ. Fast and Lent are two different subjects, but got tied together for me as I heard and read others who “fast for Lent” in some form or other, and when I saw fasting was Ann VosKamp’s topic to discuss for the present few weeks, I thought perhaps there’s some wisdom here for me to discover. What you read in these posts is one woman’s stumbling learning process. But I think you hit on an area more likely to rob my time and attention from God than food. Especially during free evenings. Convicted! So now I need to do something about it! Thanks, friend (because friends do things like that)!

  10. Oh Sylvia, I just love how you write. Thank you for sharing your insights. 🙂

    And thank you for linking up, I look forward to hearing from you each week.

  11. And thank you, Laura, for stopping by and commenting — and for hosting Brag on God. Good stuff you’ve got there. God bless!

  12. Sylvia,

    so happy to get to know you a little. i was so grateful for your comment over at my place on my “fasting” post–it really touched me–thank you so much–i left you a reply there. i am glad to finally be able to read your’s. i see what you mean about Husband’s advice–wise man! i am relieved to know i am not in this alone–Lent is hard–this is our first try–and, oh, i had such big dreams–we have all been sick and keep relapsing–seems God wants to teach me the hardest fast of all–being a sacrificing Mama. 😉 i know fasting has great benefits, though–in the short time i did my fast, God spoke to me. blessings to you, new friend!

  13. Nacole,

    Big dreams, big ideas, that’s the name of our/my game, I guess — and that, I think, is my problem. Baby steps replacing those big dreams just might do it instead!

    That in itself is a struggle! I need a couple of road signs in my house: “Slow,” and “Stop”! to stick in front of my face at appropriate times.

    But God is so gracious and good. If He looks on our over-ambitious strivings as we do on those of our earnest but over-reaching children, eager to please us (as He does), he must be touched — and even chuckle a bit with love — and grace, great grace.

    I’m so glad to get to know you a little, too, Nacole. I hope our paths cross again.

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