In 2004 summer, I did a 40 days watermelon juice fast.
The spiritual breakthrough that came after that was tremendous. But the activity itself was not mysterious at all, I will explain.
My Christians friends who knew about this were totally flabbergasted. But I thought they shouldn’t, because I knew I was just a human. Instead of making me a “saint”, the fast humbled me, allowed me to experience human’s weaknesses in a deep way, and made me sensitive to my own sin.
My Experience with Fasting other than the 40 days Fast
I learned about fasting when I was 16 years old, which was 11 years ago. I did the 40 days fast 5 years ago. Before the 40 days fast, I had done a 7 days fast, and some random single meal fast.
After the 40 days fast, I had kept up with fasting for 2 days per week for a year, and 6 months later I had resumed the habit for another 8 months.
I didn’t know much about fasting, but I just took the leap of faith
My knowledge on fasting has been growing for the last 11 years, but when I first did the 7 days fast, all I had was a little booklet about fasting. Even when I did the 40 days fast, all I knew about fasting was little.
I chose watermelon juice only because it was easy to make.
I knew fasting could be healthy, because detoxing would take place while you were not eating. But I didn’t know any more than that. My understanding about detox was faint.
Now that I know more, I can make a more sophisticated statement about detox: You are giving your digest system a break when you’re not eating. When your body is not taking any food, it heals and cleanses itself.
If I am to do something like that again, I would use a variety of mixed plant juices and fruit juices throughout the days, unless I am doing water fast.
Of course there is more detail than that. I will consolidate information one needs to consider before doing a fast, and share them in future posts. Let me focus on the spiritual breakthrough here.
My spiritual progress over the last 11 years and how fasting helps
In 2002 Summer, God prompted me to start a habit of praying for 2 hours a day everyday, and I obeyed. I have maintained the habit to this day.
Now my entire days are 70% integrated with prayers. That means 70% of my waking hours are in the prayerful/worshipful mode.
By God’s grace, and after many years of practice, I am able to maintain a balance of worshiping/conversing with God and focusing on the daily activities at the same time.
To me, blogging, playing basketball, practicing martial art, and some other wholesome activities have become an act of worship. I simply know God is there with me while I am doing the activities.
But of course, I still see a lot of rooms for improvement. For example, God is prompting me to start a habit of blessing and praying before I am going to meet people.
When I remember to do that, I can sense differences in the people. There would be more laughter, more harmony, and more understanding among us.
99% of the time when I come before God and kneel down before Him to do my “official” devotion, He speaks to me. Whereas, in the first few years after I began daily devotion, I often felt a distant from God… (Before daily devotion, I didn’t care, so distant wasn’t problem)
I was doing the talk most of the time. Sometime I felt that He wasn’t in good term with me, but I didn’t know exactly why.
Now I listen and obey a lot more. Listen-and-obey is the key to the difference in my relationship with God between now and then.
Fasting by itself did not give me all of the above benefits. But it did remove major barriers that once stood between God and I.
How does fasting remove barriers between you and God?
- Cleanses your body, increase energy and focus for spiritual discipline such as prayers and meditation
- Remove chemicals from regular diets that can dull the senses, which increases alertness and awareness.
- Remove stimulants that interrupt your emotions, so you can experience real emotions that give you clues to what’s going on inside
- Proper fasting include confession and repentance, which makes you sensitive to sin and offenses against others and God
- New awareness allows you to see your weaknesses clearly, which makes you humble
- Fasting is an act of obedience, if you do it because the Holy Spirit ask you to
What did I experience during the 40 days Fast?
- Coldness. It was summer in Canada. The air conditioning indoor was almost unbearable. I never felt warm or hot during the whole fast, even in the hottest days.
- Hunger pangs in the first few days, not a serious problems. The sense of hunger had almost evaded me a week later.
- Even now I rarely feel hungry. I can feel hungry, but not as much as before the big fast.
- I played an intense basketball game on the 14th day. I was a split second slower than my usual. Nothing else.
- Transitioning from sitting or kneeling position to standing position require more time or I would feel dizzy
- My sleep hours per night had reduced to 4 hours after 1 week into the fast (New energy and alertness)
- I did not go back to 8 hours of sleep until a few weeks after the fast
- My weight had dropped from 155 lbs to 129lbs the entire time
- Someone reported that I turned meek during the fast (Pure emotions instead of chemical/stimulant induced emotions)
- My physical strength had reduced, but I was still relatively strong and still beat my peers in arm wrestle (My body was burning the fats, but proteins left untouched)
What did I gain spiritually from regular fasting?
- Because of new awareness, focus, and more pure emotion, I discovered the gift of composing songs for God. People loved my songs
- I became more sensitive to God’s voice
- My discernment improved
- I became more sensitive to sin
- Experienced breakthroughs in ministries. I started to have “promotions” every few months
- My influences in the University had increased
- Enjoyed clean conscience
- Spiritual insights came much more frequently as alertness and focus increased
- Suddenly I had more friends
- Read a lot more Christian literature and understood them so much more than before
- I had deeper focus on obedience and listening to God
- Activated some dormant skills and spiritual gifts, such as leading bible studies, public speaking, leaderships, and evangelism
What gave me strength and motivation to fast?
My sources of strength were the gentle consolations and guidance that were coming consistently from God over the years. He had also given me encouragements through His people.
When I was in primary school, a teacher who was a godly lady had shared with us kids many Christian testimonies, bible stories, and spiritual guidance such as how to pray. One time she told us how a young girl received complete healing to her shortsightedness after a 7 days fast.
I had remembered that story and years later I tried to do my own 7 days fast.
After I started to go to church in grade 9, I met some people who were practicing fasting regularly. They gave me some advice based on personal experiences.
When I did the 7 days fast 11 years ago, I didn’t even get what I prayed for.
I prayed for complete healing for shortsightedness, floaters, and astigmatism of my eyes, and for my family to believe in Christ.
To this day they still haven’t believed, but my eyes haven’t got worse.
But last year I found the causes to my eyes’ problems: Stress was the cause for my shortsightedness and astigmatism, and artificial favors in the food such as sugar and MSG were the major causes of floaters in my eyes.
I also found some exercises for the eyes that were said to be able to recover my eyes from shortsightedness and astigmatism. I will try them and let you know the results.
God cared more about curing the root causes than giving me quick fixes.
Often time He didn’t answer my prayer the way I wanted, nor in the timing I wanted.
There were no extraordinary miracles, audible voices, dreams, and not even straight answers to my prayers.
What have kept me going was the ordinary people God had sent my way such as the primary school teacher, the small booklet about fasting, and His own gentle, still, small voice.
My accountability partner during my 40 days big fast
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…Romans 8:28
In early 2004, I sensed that God had been prompting me to do a long fast. In May 2004, I returned from my home town to the University and this gave me the freedom to do the fast, without my parents supervising my meals.
I told them I was doing it, and they were fine with it. My dad even commended me for being “healthy”! This made me thought of this bible verse:
The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1
If it wasn’t God who changed their heart, they wouldn’t be so open about it. Today, my dad won’t let me miss a single meal.
A Christian friend in the University was also going to do a 40 days fast! We decided to do it together. It was no coincident!
We read a couple of books on the topic, one of them was “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster. One of the chapters talk about fasting.
Together, we finished the big fast. We had prayed together, encouraged one another, and exchanged tips. We became best friends since.
Another helper sent by God…
One time, during the 40 days fast, I felt very weak, so I went to buy a few watermelons. I wasn’t able to carry them all. I remember I ran into a Christian friend on the way, or I called him before or after I bought the melons, and he helped me out.
He was a great friend. A few years later, when I campaigned for an executive office of the student union in my school, he was one of the crucial factors to my success.
How do you know if you should do it?
You should do it if you sense that God has been giving you hints through sermons, friends, books, and any other source.
Don’t wait for extraordinary sign. Fasting is a regular spiritual discipline. You should think of it as doing physical exercises for health.
You may not sense immediate changes. But spiritual discipline is no quick fix. It’s like the rising sun: sometime the sky has turned bright before you notice it.
God will make a way for you if He ask you to do something.