04. What to expect…mentally

You will discover a new prayer intensity (“battle of the mind”)

While the body is made for fasting, the mind struggles mightily. During a fast when the stomach is hungry, it sends a signal to the brain: “Hey, why aren’t you feeding me?” The brain responds, “We’re fasting.” It’s a reminder of the need to pray (the purpose of fasting). As hunger persists in the stomach, so does the tension between the stomach (body) and the brain (mind). The reminder and opportunity to pray is heightened.

Once the fast moves past the three-day test, the hunger process dies down. The stomach finds a peace zone. But the mind does not. For the rest of the fast, it becomes a battle for the mind. And as you are constantly reminded that you are not eating, the mind has opportunity to respond through prayer.

When the mind cooperates with the body, the fast can carry on until completion.

You will discover the power you can have over food

When you fast, you’re in control for once. You’re not controlled by the clock telling you its lunch time, or the stomach telling you it’s snack time, or the corner Starbucks telling you to stop by before heading to work.

During a fast, you’ll discover just how much our lives revolve around food. Billboards advertising food jump out at you. Conversations involving food are ongoing and ever noticeable. You’ll be shocked just how frequently we spend our lives thinking about, talking about, preparing or eating food.

When you fast, you will feel victorious by putting food in its place and not being bossed around by a donut.

Your mind will be opened

After the stomach goes to sleep and quits purring, and the mind resolves to stay the course for the fast, it begins to open up. Perspectives get aligned. When you deny yourself a most basic life necessity (food), you begin to think about other more baseline dimensions of life.

Why am I here? How did you get here (God of course)? What does God think about this and that? What does eternity have in store for me? How unbelievably small I am and how gigantic God is!

During a fast you pray with greater intensity, greater clarity, greater regularity. Why is that? Withholding food really gets your attention and moves you to prayer.

Our minds are lazier when our stomachs are constantly full.  

You will discover a new kind of food

When you fast, you’ll be amazed at the discovery that you can live without edible food (temporarily at least). Equally refreshing is the discovery of a different kind of food, the kind that you truly cannot live without (if you desire to walk with God).

When you fast, your mind is drawn to the Lord through prayer and seeking Him in His word. When you fast, feasting on God’s word takes on fresh meaning. You’ll discover firsthand what Moses meant when he said, “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

Fasting brings focus when we need it

By removing something that we desire or are accustomed to (food), we’re constantly reminded that something is missing (again, food). Being hungry reminds us to channel our desires to prayer (something that doesn’t come as natural).

Prayer is hard work. In the flesh, I have many other things I’d rather do than pray. Like work, sleep, watch TV. But I desire prayer because I believe in its power in connecting me to God and engaging His spirit on my behalf. Fasting sharpens my focus and helps me to do the very thing that I often fail to do in the natural – pray!