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A Practical Guide to Fasting-Part 1


Sermon shared by Ritch Grimes

October 2002
Summary: #3 of 4 sermons on biblical fasting.
Audience: Believer adults
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larger than the recommended standard serving amounts. For example, while the standard serving for meat is 3 ounces (e.g., the size of a deck of cards), restaurant portions typically start at 7 to 8 ounces and climb up to 22 to 38 ounces. A medium-size movie theater popcorn consists of 16 cups (the standard serving is 3 cups) and some soda servings can be as big as 44 ounces (the standard serving is 12 ounces). These “super-sized” portions contribute to our increasing overall caloric intake, and counteract the efforts we may be making to specifically reduce the fat in our diets (Why We Are Overweight: Genes vs. Lifestyle).

I have to admit it, when I go to a fast food restaurant and there’s an offer to upgrade my “value” meal for “only 39¢” more, I usually go for the “bonus” fries and drink. After all, it IS a real deal, isn’t it?

Andrew Murray made this observation, “In nothing is man more closely connected with the world of sense than in his need of food, and his enjoyment of it. It was the fruit, good for food, with which man was tempted and fell in Paradise. It was with bread to be made of stones that Jesus, when hungered, was tempted in the wilderness, and in fasting He triumphed” (With Christ in the School of Prayer).

I contend that we are a nation that is very dependent upon food, but not primarily for survival reasons. We use food as a means of dealing with depression or anxiety. We grab something to eat because we are bored or as a time filler. We go out to eat to celebrate a special occasion or to make an occasion special. We rarely eat due to a physical necessity because we rarely cease from eating long enough to need to eat again.

Becky Tirabassi relates how the truth of her eating habits became a reality as a result of her experience of fasting:

While abstaining from food, I was surprised to find out how important and pleasurable food really was to me. Because I was not eating, I realized how often I wanted to eat (1) simply for emotional comfort, (2) to better enjoy a social gathering, or (3) just to satisfy certain cravings…Without eating for pleasure or comfort, I became very aware of how dependent I had become on food for emotional satisfaction, rather than as nutritional fuel for my body! (Let Prayer Change Your Life, p. 164)

Becky’s experience is not an isolated or exceptional case, it is the norm. We are habitual eaters—living to eat, rather than eating to live. We have allowed our passion for food to determine our lifestyle, and since fasting, generally, involves abstaining from food, we choose not to engage in this discipline because it would infringe upon our pleasure.

Our preoccupation with and overindulgence in eating has also manufactured within us a corporate fear of not eating. Because the majority of Americans have never experienced true hunger, we have manufactured this “urban legend” about what will happen to us if we fail to consume food at our “fixed times” throughout the day. We have an unfounded fear that we will starve or harm our bodies if we don’t keep an unbroken, steady flow of food entering our mouths. We misinterpret the sensation of a lack of bloatedness as a sign that we had better eat something soon or face the possibility of emaciation within the hour.

Consequently, our identification with and addiction to food, as I have demonstrated, has resulted in
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