I intend linking this article to the subsequent ones on fasting and prayers to educate people who might want to take the teachings to the extreme and harm their bodies(the Temple of God) in the process.
Let’s start by defining spiritual fasting…
Three definitions of spiritual fasting:
1)It is traditionally abstinence from food for a period of time for a spiritual purpose or goal.
2)It can also be abstinence from normal activities such as sleep,recreation,social interactions with others and sex(for the married people) in order to devote more time exclusively for God.
3)Lastly,it is ‘abstaining from anything innocent in itself in order to grow more spiritually or serve God more effectively'(Phillips Brooks).For example,TV,radios,internet,social media have benefits but one can decide to abstain from them for a period to avoid distractions.
Fasting can be the total abstinence from definitions 1,2 and 3 combined together.It could also be 1 alone or 2 alone or 3 alone.
However,I have noticed that in this generation of ours it is easier for people to abstain from food than move away from social media!Most people are addicted to their smartphones.Even when they claim they are fasting from food they still spend 75% of their time Facebooking and WhatsApping! Meanwhile the primary purpose of fasting is to devote significant time for God in prayers.To such people,spiritual fasting should be primarily abstaining from social media and TVs(if their daily bread does not come from there).
The purpose of the three definitions therefore is to give hope for people who are advised not to participate in the traditional fasting.Food and water are essential for survival and depriving oneself from them for an extended period could harm the body.
Before I list those people that are medically not fit to engage in the traditional fasting,it is good I make these two points:
1)Jesus never asked any sick person to fast before he/she could be healed! Never! However,I am open to correction if you are able to tell me one instance where Jesus told someone to fast before he/she could be healed in the Bible.He only rebuked his disciples who ought to pray for the sick but couldn’t because they were not fasting.Therefore,if you are sick,get healthy people who can fast and pray for you!
2)There are two types of fasting: Self-proclaimed and God-directed fasting.If you decide to go on extended fasting,please check the list below to see if you are fit or better still,seek medical advice.However,if God directs you specifically, as seen in many Bible passages,then the list below is null and void.How Moses and Jesus fasted for 40days and night is still a mystery.
It is estimated that humans cannot survive beyond 21 days without food and water.This cut off is dependent on the body mass index of the person( BMI less than 13 in men or less than 11 in women cannot survive the fasting medically),health conditions,gender(female can go farther than male because of fat storage) and other factors.
THOSE THAT ARE NOT FIT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE TRADITIONAL FASTING (ACCORDING TO THE FIRST DEFINITION ABOVE)
1)Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
2)Children:(Some authorities say children less than 18,I think parents should use their discretion and limit their children’s hours of fasting).
3)Sick elderly people: However,healthy elderly ones can derive many benefits from intermittent fasting.
4)People diagnosed of having peptic ulcers and gastritis.
5)Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics with poorly controlled blood sugars.
6)People with acute kidney failure.
7)People with chronic kidney diseases.
8)Kidney transplants patients.
9)Those with liver diseases.
10)Anybody suffering from chronic diseases that require daily medication.
There is a good news for those people listed above.They can still abstain from other things I talked about earlier on.For example,a peptic ulcer patient who should not go on extended fasting can decide to abstain from soap operas/TV shows/social media for a certain period.This works better if such an individual cannot do without TVs and social media.
I hope this write up is well understood.
We shall see on Wednesday by God’s grace.