And yes, one item off the list: 40 Day Fast! We did it and it was certainly a very interesting journey we found ourselves on. At the end of the day, the four of us were so so thankful for the special grace and strength to go through that 40 days!
Many have been asking what did you do? What did you eat or drink? Did you feel hungry? Can I do it too? So I thought I’ll put together our experience and hopefully encourage you to make fasting part of your lifestyle. I’m not going to go into the theological aspects of fasting, as there are many books and articles around that can give a fuller picture than I can in one blog post. Rather, I’ll focus on the practical aspects of fasting 40 days.
First and most important: You have to know why you are fasting. Is it for a specific breakthrough you want, or for someone dear to you (e.g. a friend who is unwell or looking for job)? If you don’t have a reason yet, pray about it. You do need something to believe for and focus on when you do an extended fast.
Get friends to fast with you. This made a huge difference for me. The encouragement from each other was so helpful, the struggles (you’ll have them at some point), what your body goes through, and accountability went a long way. We have a chat group on our mobile and it was the most active chat every day! There were so many experiences and so much to thank God for each day that we just had to update each other!
Decide on the perimeters of your fast before you start fasting. For example, are you going to drink Coffee? How about Milo? If you drink soups, are pureed soups ok? How about creamy soups? The reason you set such ‘rules’ first before the fast, so you keep to them, rather than decide along the way. It’s important to know that there’s no Right or Wrong in what you can or cannot eat/drink. It’s a personal conviction you have during the fast. Do take into consideration your health condition when you decide.
For us, this is what we consumed during our fast: Water throughout the day (no added chia seeds), Juice or Soup for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. All our juices were freshly squeezed or pressed (no added sugar or honey). All our soups were clear and boiled from home. This was because we only have vegetables, nuts or roots in our soups (no meat, no bones). For me, I added a dash of salt in my soup as I’ve a tendency to get leg cramps. We don’t take any Coffee, Soy Milk, Soda, Milo.
Read up on what juices or soups you can take. For example, fruit juices are good in the morning and evenings. Try to take Vegetable juices in the afternoons, so you don’t feel sluggish. Then there’s info on which combination is nice, and which tastes gross. Although we are fasting and shouldn’t be focusing on what taste yummy, I’m not religious about it. I don’t want to make fasting a yucky experience. At the end, it’s all about setting aside time to seek God and pray.
This part is really pure practical and realistic. Decide when you want to fast. If this is your first time, please don’t choose a period when you are having a birthday party or Christmas Dinner. We decided to do our fast at the start of the year, cos we figured there’s no perfect time!
Do note that when you break an extended fast, you need extra time to ease your stomach back to regular food. (it hardly worked for 40 days!) The general rule is, for every 4 days of fasting, you need 1 day of easing in. So for us, we actually needed 10 days to ease into eating meat and carbs again.
Do your homework to find out where you can get your juices and soups. At your work place, know where the juice stalls are. In the evenings, work out how you are getting your dinner. And of course, over the weekends, figure out your food source too. For us, three of us had to get juicers so that we could juice at home. I had to dig for a food container to bring my soup to work.
So how was the experience like?
It’s different for each of us. Some of us felt hungry with the stomach churning loudly. While some of us didn’t at all, and even felt full on certain days! But there’s much much grace that we had, as none of us had gastric.
For poo, we all kept each other updated to ensure we pooed at least once every 2-3 days. If we don’t we ate a mild laxative to assist our excretion. It is important to poo and pee regularly, as toxins do build up in our bodies esp when we are fasting. To prevent any headache or nausea, we drank lots of water, pooed and peed a LOT.
Did we feel weak? Surprisingly no. We weren’t as strong as before (for example, it took us longer to climb up the stairs), but we didn’t feel weak. In fact, we all still went about our daily routines. I went for my runs although I did a shorter distance.
Did we feel cold? YES!! very very cold. In our tropical weather, three of us wore thermal wear! In the office, we had layers on us. I had to regularly step out and walked around in the sun just to warm myself. But one of us didn’t have this cold winter effect. She wore sleeveless to work and didn’t feel cold at all!
Did you enter the kitchen? YES! More than ever before. We all ventured into trying out new dishes for the family, experimented with new cuisines and served amazing meals. All this with ZERO idea how the dishes tasted like. We were so excited to try out new recipes, but got our family members to do taste test while we were cooking. Although I must admit, we were tempted a few times to just pop the spoon in our mouths to just taste!
Did your stomach work well after fasting? It could have been better. We broke fast on 13 Feb (Fri), and many of us had the Annual Chinese New Year reunion meals from Sat-Wed. It was hard to do the slow ease into meats and carbs. It was also a little challenging to eat small portions and not snack on the New Year goodies. I got it the worse when I experienced Food Poisoning after a steamboat dinner. (No one else on the table had it!) We concluded that my tummy was just too clean!
Did you tell anyone about it? Well, my colleagues knew cos I had to explain why I wasn’t eating, why I was drinking clear soup daily and why I was wrapped in layers of winter wear. Our Cell Group knew as well, cos we also wanted them to fast along with us, and they did! Some did it once a week, some joined us for day time fast daily, one joined us at the halfway mark. It was great to have people cheering us on, encouraging us!
So that kind of sums up our Fasting Experience. We drew closer to God, had revelations and encounters and most importantly, we grew more reliant on Him. Our hearts were filled with gratitude and thanksgiving each day and we all felt this is a great start to a new year. In fact, we want to do this yearly! (perhaps not 40 days, maybe a 21?)
*Disclaimer: The above stems from my own personal experience doing the 40 day fast. I do not advocate our method or style, but hope that it would serve as a guide to those who wish to fast. My intention is not to boast about the fast or to engage in theological debates about fasting. The opinions are 100% my own. Please feel free to drop a comment or email me if you have any other questions about my experience. It was really a very precious experience which I would hold on to for a long long time.
Join me on my journey as I celebrate turning 40!