Shane Idleman: How the Physical Act of Fasting Affects Spiritual Health

Through fasting, the body becomes a servant instead of a master. When Jesus directs us to do something, the outcome is always beneficial, both spiritually and physically. He said, “when you fast” (Matthew 6:16). Scripture doesn’t say, “When you sin and if you fast,” but rather, “If you sin and when you fast.” The obvious goal and benefit of fasting is spiritual, but the physical benefits as well. Can you pray and seek God better with a headache, tight pants, and a sluggish, lethargic body strung out on your favorite addictive substance? Of course not. But keep in mind that fasting is not about self reliance but reliance on God. However, when the flesh is restrained, anxiety, fear, unbelief, doubt, lust, jealousy, bitterness, and anger are also minimized.

What you put in your mouth (body) and the mind (soul) affects the spirit—and when you feed the spirit, it affects the body and the soul. I’m often asked to pray for panic attacks, angry outbursts, and anxiety. That can be done, and God honors prayer, but are we opening the door by not halting highly addictive caffeine, sugar, opioid, or nicotine habits. Are we renewing our mind by meditating on the Word and spending time in prayer? The physical affects the spiritual, and vice versa. We also know that many emotions such as anger, bitterness, and jealousy are toxic to the body.

Much of the healing that I have witnessed over the years was the result of good, or renewed stewardship of the body. Health also involves healthy emotions. Having a forgiving, loving, joy-filled heart does wonders for the body. Serotonin, for example, is increased when the heart is right. This crucial chemical impacts our mood at a very deep level, and contributes to an overall state of well-being. Serotonin is also affected by diet and exercise. But again, I’m not suggesting that health replace God and prayer, but that it compliment it. . .that we steward the gift of health. No one is perfect, but we are called to discipline our bodies and use wisdom. God does heal miraculously, even in our ignorance, but that shouldn’t cause us to neglect our health.

With more than 12 million U.S. children being obese and millions more being malnourished, the need to address this topic has never been greater—caffeine, soft drinks, and junk food are fueling the disease epidemic. We pray for God to heal rather than for help with self-discipline to change harmful habits. What’s wrong with this picture? “There are multitudes of diseases which have their origin in fullness, and might have their end in fasting” (James Morrison).

We hear a great deal about free-radicals and antioxidants these days. In short, if an atom is not complete, it may pull resources from other atoms. These atoms are known as free radicals. They are dangerous because they steal electrons from DNA, proteins, and fats. God-given food and fasting both attack free-radicals, but toxic food fuels them.

The myth that fasting is bad for you is unfounded and has been disproved numerous times. Be careful when getting advice from those who profit from the advice, or from those who know little about how the body heals itself. I vividly recall the story of a man who had colon surgery and may not have needed it had his diet been changed. The hospital fed him a greasy sloppy joe after he awoke. A lack of wisdom has been our downfall.

Additionally, it’s been estimated that nearly 75% of U.S. clinical trials in medicine are paid for by private companies who benefit. For example, “Processed sugar is good for you—the more the better,” paid for by sugar manufacturers. Or “Take this drug to feel better,” never mind the fact that side-effects include internal bleeding, seizures, and panic attacks. Or “Eat this kids cereal,” but ignore the harmful GMOs, food coloring, additives, preservatives, and toxins. America, wake up! You are what you eat. Fasting doesn’t kill us; overconsumption does. No one profits from fasting except the faster.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman noted, “The body’s wondrous ability to self-digest and destroy needless tissue such as fat, tumors, blood vessel plaque, and other nonessential and diseased tissues, while conserving essential tissues, gives the fast the ability to restore. . .youth to the system.” Most research on cancer and fasting supports the healing process as well. For example, chemotherapy’s goal is to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells, but it’s been said that the body has a natural, God-given way to do this without harming the healthy cells—fasting. Fasting is not a cure-all; it simply provides an environment for healing.

Disease is often a problem of toxicity created by what we consume, ingest, or breathe—fasting is the detox solution. Granted, spiritual health and wholeness is the goal when fasting, but the physical benefits are worthwhile. Dr. J.H. Tilden said, “After fifty-five years of sojourning in the wilderness of medical therapeutics, I am forced to declare. . .that fasting is the only reliable, specific, therapeutic eliminant known to man.”

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Source: Christian Headlines