Fasting? Isn’t that an archaic form of starving that religious nuts do to themselves? Isn’t fasting harmful to your physical health? Science has recently shown that fasting has incredible benefits to your health. More and more secular people are using fasting to not only lose weight but also to heal their bodies of a whole number of conditions. Who would have thought?
Over the last few years, I found myself becoming negative about fasting, especially longer fasts (more than 3 days, while still drinking fluids). I thought that fasting is an important spiritual discipline, but it comes at a price. A cost to the health of your body, your muscles deteriorate and you’ll probably look like a starving child from Somalia, which is not an inspiring picture. Something we sometimes must do, but it’s almost like a necessary evil, a price to pay to follow God. How wrong I was!
Jesus fasted for 40 days and the Apostles fasted often. Jesus spoke about fasting to His followers by saying, “when you fast”. Jesus expected His followers to fast. Fasting is a powerful spiritual discipline encouraged in the Scriptures, however many Christians have a negative perception of fasting like I had.
I recently discovered a secular book on fasting called The Complete Guide to Fasting – heal your body through intermittent fasting, alternate day and extended fasting by a Canadian doctor Jason Fung. I was shocked! A secular book on the benefits of fasting!
A few benefits of fasting (from the Complete Guide to Fasting, Jason Fung):
- A near total “reset” of immune function with fasts 3 – 5 days. The old white-blood cells are discarded and the body builds a stronger immune system.
- Abnormal and or pre-cancerous cells are discarded. Dr Thomas Seyfried, professor of biology at Boston college, propose a seven-day water-only fast once a year to protect the body from cancer.
- Protects from Alzheimer’s disease. Ketone bodies are released when we fast and it has been found to stimulate brain development and heal the nerves in your brain.
- You don’t lose muscle when you fast. Growth hormone is released that stimulates muscle growth and body builders are beginning to use intermittent fasting to lose fat, but they keep on training and building muscle.
- You have more energy, you are sharper mentally and fasting leads to heart health.
Science proved the Bible. Again. As I read through the pages of the Complete Guide to Fasting book I realised how ignorant I was. How little I knew about the benefits of fasting and I came to the realisation, that every command in Scripture is good for us and those around us.
God, the Creator of the world and the human body, designed us in a specific way. He built into our bodies the benefits of fasting, so when Scripture tells us to fast we don’t only experience spiritual breakthrough but also physical blessing. Maybe it’s time for us to fast?
PS: Get the audio message I preached on Sunday at Shofar East London called “Too Fat To Fly” (which speaks of spiritual fat, not physical fat). You can download the audio here for free and make sure you download the notes with the diagrams to help you understand. It’s all on www.shofarsermons.org/eastlondon.