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Posted Jan 18 2011 8:22pm

The feeders are very busy these January days as the birds eat as much as possible during daylight hours to maintain the energy needed to survive the bitter winter temperatures. Most people in the First World eat for pleasure first, not for survival. There are those cannot go for a drive, sit at a desk, attend a meeting, go for a walk or talk on the phone without a drink or snack of some sort in hand. I would venture to say that most people I know go no more than two hours during the day without some sort of oral intake.

Our society has come to expect instant gratification. We buy what we want now, even if we do not need it or cannot afford it. Our children are savvy consumers who quickly learn how to influence the purchasing habits of parents. Advertisers keep us constantly aware of what we must have to enjoy life. Few of us really know what it is to hunger for anything in a material sense.

Most, if not all world religions encourage periods of fasting for spiritual reasons. For a long time I was under the impression that fasting was a sure way to get God to answer our prayers and petitions. Fasting is not a way to earn God's favour, but is a way for us to turn our focus from the material things of life to a hunger for the spiritual realm and an increased recognition of the needs of others. The health benefits of intermittent fasting are also well documented and it has been shown that decreasing caloric intake slows the aging process. Yet some practitioners encourage several smaller meals a day as a way to health rather than giving the body a rest from the digestive process. Fasting has lost favour as a spiritual and physical discipline in our materialistic society.

I had a long 40 hour period of time to think about this as I fasted prior to a routine colonoscopy this week. While my stomach rumbled a little, and my awareness of the sight and smell of food was heightened, I missed the routine of eating more than food itself. A lot of time is freed up in a day when you do not prepare or eat meals. By day two I felt energetic and absolutely pain free. I remembered how a chronic itchy rash my husband had for weeks cleared up completely when he fasted for the same procedure a few years ago.

I have been more mindful and appreciative of my food today. And I won't wait for another colonoscopy (if there ever is another one!) to choose to practice the discipline of fasting again.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6
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