The Bible has many examples of fasting and I always wondered how exactly fasting is helpful – physically – spiritually – mentally? I have always been a little confused by what exactly are the benefits to be gotten and now I think I have a little better idea.
Yes, spiritually, I suppose, there seems to be some benefit to fasting – to some people. Never did much for me as I just thought about food most of the time. Of course Jesus’s example comes to mind as he went into the desert to be tempted. But in that case I think it was to set up his ultimate temptation by Satan and how would he have been tempted by bread if he hadn’t been hungry? I think he was already a spiritual giant and fasting would not have taken the edge off that.
And giving the money or food away you save by skipping a few meals doesn’t make much sense as most folks are rich enough to do that anyway without skipping the meals.
No, I see the real benefit is that fasting allows the body to heal itself. There are many studies and articles on the physical effects of fasting on the body. Here is an interesting article to that point: https://authoritynutrition.com/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting/
I have fasted many times, a few times at 3 days but mostly I just skip breakfast. Yes I know everyone says “Oh – you can’t do that!” But I mostly get that from overweight people who seem to think they are the experts on something they just can’t control. Once, I started skipping breakfast some other benefits became apparent: started losing some weight, wasn’t hungry all the time, ate smaller portions in my other meals and tended to snack less and eat more healthy snacks like nuts and fruits and vegetables. And I feel better, have more self confidence about skipping meals now and then and I think it really heals the physical problems that a 63 year old man inevitably has to face.
An older person’s body starts to break down after 60 years and perhaps a spiritual benefit is that it brings one closer to God if that is in fact their belief system. But God gives us a way to physically address those health problems and that is by fasting. The body is a pretty amazing machine that is able to fix itself if given the chance. And these health issues give us an opportunity for a spiritual blessing as well. I believe too that obesity and diabetes are really sins against the body due to lack of self control when eating. Fasting is a sure fire way of addressing these sins and the treatment is amazingly free and spiritually endorsed by God.
Finally, how to get the motivation to fast eluded me but I have found a great motivator – an illness, a physical malady is a great incentive to fast. It really kind of makes it easy to get through those first hunger pangs. Then when you get a success or two, the brain starts to get rewired so that you are not tempted by every little snack advertisement and a new habit it born. I plan on sticking with my breakfast skipping regimen and then to do some 24 to 40 hour fasts occasionally as these reinforce my resolve to keep on keeping on with fasting. Even now I am on a 36 hour fast which essentially means skipping food for one night, and one full day and night. Not that hard to do and it will make me stronger in physical, mental and spiritual ways.