November 15 is National Philanthropy Day, fondly referred to as NPD. On this date each year, nonprofits nationwide celebrate the extraordinary change that fundraising and philanthropy have helped to create in our world.
Philanthropic Service for Institutions, the ministry I worked for, is the primary source for fundraising information and assistance.
After years of research, and a rather methodical journey, I’ve come to embrace the wholistic benefits of fasting. It was prescribed by our Creator, the Great Physician! And, while one may wonder how or why fasting factors into National Philanthropy Day I’ve awakened to the idea that blessings come when God’s children follow His commands and sacrifice their worldly desires. “Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures . . .” says Titus 3:3 (NLT). And, the old hymn, “I Surrender All” expresses the expectation that Christians will forsake “worldly pleasures” while they maintain the hope that blessings will come as a reward.
The Bible brims full of stories proving that God rewards humility and sacrificial behaviors. Fasting appears at least 70 times, in 30 old and new testament books, of the Bible. Fasts in Biblical literature, extend from 1 to 40 days. Individuals and groups fast in various contexts such as Holiness, Joy, Humility, Guidance, Leading, Protecting, Strength, Mercy, Repentance, Sorrow and Grieving. The Second book of the Old Testament mentions Moses fasted for 40 days and the first three books of the New Testament all mention Jesus did the same.
Most religions around the world practice fasting for spiritual breakthroughs, despite differing on most other theological points. Fasting combined with prayer becomes an act of worship that empowers us to say no to what our flesh wants. Paul wrote that being ruled by our flesh (stomachs) does not honor God. When we fast we teach our bodies that we are the ruler over it, not the other way around. When you learn to control your eating (which is fundamental to survival) you develop the ability to control most other aspects of life. All the strong Bible characters participated in the act of fasting. Simply put, fasting will enhance our faith, but avoiding fasting can hinder spiritual growth. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus promised: “If we seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, He will give us everything we need.”
Rising to the Top
While fasting, you will quickly become aware of the incongruence in your life. Unhealthy habits like eating for taste, eating out of boredom, lack of organization, bad intentions, and misdirected paths all get put under a cognitive and spiritual
microscope. With increased perspective and willpower, we can use fasting as a tool to help us let go. It can help us let go of addictions, behaviors, and relationships. In other words, fasting can help address whatever is in your past , and whatever you want to restart, and move forward. Physically, cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually fasting quite literally resets so much. Not only will your body functions improve as you fast, but your decision-making regarding health and fitness will improve. An abundance of evidence available online from recent health, fitness, scientific and medically based breakthroughs verifies the of positive outcomes tied to the Biblical discipline of Fasting.
Mark 8 and Luke 5 describe a woman with persistent bleeding for 12 years, and doctors could not cure. And after spending all her money, her condition only worsened. Doctors do not always have the answers, but the Great Physician, who created the human body designed many natural defenses that can prevent, improve, and sometimes even cure many of our modern ailment’s.
Compelling Reasons, Other than Spiritual, to Fast
Natural Treatment and Regulation
We were designed to fast. Everyone fasts every night. Insulin levels drop in the evening, which signals your body to burn fat instead of storing it. Our ancestors routinely went for long periods of time without eating, whenever food or animals were scarce. Their bodies burned fat to provide a natural energy boost needed to make successful kills and outlast periods with little rain and harsh winters.
Further, fasting has been used for 2,500 years as a safe health remedy. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used fasting to help patients’ bodies recover naturally from various ailments. He is popularly quoted as saying, “To eat when you’re sick is to feed your sickness.” Paracelsus, a famous Swiss healer, said that fasting “is the great healer within.”
In 2016, Yoshinori Ohsumi won The Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his discoveries around the mechanism of autophagy. Autophagy is the main healing component of Fasting. Autophagy rejuvenates your cells and repairs damaged DNA. This powerful process has been shown to enhance heart health by lowering blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and can compensate for years of bad habits such as a sedentary lifestyle and overeating. Short-term dry fasting (abstaining from both water and food for up to 24 hours) activates autophagy and fat-burning quicker. Dry fasting is an estimated three times more effective than traditional fasting. Alternate-day fasting has been found to be the most effective for maintaining gut health.
Contrary to popular belief, fasting achieves its many benefits not by resting the body, but by introducing mild stress. This “stress” sparks a cascade of hormones that stimulate autophagy, weight loss, and metabolic healing. Other stressors include exercise and exposure to heat and cold, and often work alongside fasting to increase results.
Clears up Cravings
Fasting will cure sugar addictions, which studies have shown to be even stronger than the desire for alcohol, sex or drugs! Fasting reduces cravings. That “hangry” feeling isn’t hunger, but an addiction. Snacks, fast food and carbs filled with white flour, trans-fatty acids, and 56 hidden sugar derivatives and turn off satiety triggers. Packaged foods chemically trick us into constantly grazing every two to four hours. On the other hand, eat a healthy meal, and real hunger won’t return for about 12 hours. Fasting regulates the release of hormones, helping you feel full quicker, so you will be able to make better food choices. Fasting restores appreciation for natural, wholesome foods.
Sharpens Your Senses
Beyond taste, the acuity of all your other senses increases as well, including vision, smell and hearing. Your listening skills will also sharpen, and you will be able to focus in on every word other people are saying. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a good reason. Listening is a lost conversational art that requires self-discipline hard work and skill in order to understand others. Good listening makes others feel heard, and valued. Also, fasting increases dopamine, elevates your mood, and increases happiness and confidence, while reducing anxiety. It also stabilizes emotions and resets negative thought patters and behaviors, by detaching from an emotional dependence on food.
An Internal Reset
Fasting cures Insulin Resistance, and increases the base metabolic rate, thereby allowing your body to burn dangerous internal visceral fat. Visceral fat is fat that you may not be able to see or feel, but it wraps around the internal organs. Fasting very effectively eliminates this until the body becomes healthy, at which point it begins burning external fat.
Insulin Resistance is a common denominator in 23 million deaths from Diabetes, Hypertension, Strokes and Heart Attacks. Type-2 Diabetes has been dramatically improved and even reversed–in patients who fasted who were well into their 80’s after suffering for more than 2 decades.
Fasting reduces Cortisol, which is associated with increased appetite and weight gain. It also causes lots of common chronic autoimmune diseases like: Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Inflammatory Bowl Disease (Crohn’s), Addison’s Disease, Fibromyalgia, and Type-1 Diabetes. For decades, doctors and researchers believed that Type-2 Diabetes was a metabolic disorder, but recent research has shown it is more likely a form of autoimmune disease.
Fasting enhances brain efficiency and effectiveness by stabilizing blood sugar and insulin levels. It will make you more perceptive and discerning of other’s intentions, which is why many high performing entrepreneurs and businessman practice intermittent fasting. It also forces your mind to stay in the present moment–which is a big problem for many people distracted by social media-driven culture.
Fasting in the evening can help you sleep better. The process of digesting food (and indigestion) signals to your body’s circadian clock that it’s time to be awake – which tells your brain to be alert. But when you practice time-restricted eating (or skip meals) your body returns to its natural circadian rhythm.
Fasting stimulates Growth Hormone by as much as 5-Times, which assists in retaining and building muscle by up to 15%. Longevity chemicals are also stimulated, which decreases your biological age (how old you are based on the health of your cells). A 70 Year Old who fasts regularly could easily have a biological age of 30, meaning you can live a longer, healthier life. Research has found that age-related declines in cognitive and motor abilities (such as physical balance) can be reduced.
Fasting reboots your immune system and can help avoid and even beat cancer because healthy cells are protected, which enhances chemotherapy treatment. Researchers believe this anti-cancer effect is at least partially caused by reduced levels of insulin growth-like factor, a hormone that’s associated with inflammation and decreased longevity.
Fasting (along with a vegetarian diet) can reduce many of the risk factors of getting Covid-19.
Fasting has been proven to speed would healing, clears up acne, whitens the eyes, and enhance skin quality. Natural beauty experts recommend fasting for glowing, youthful skin.
Fasting is infinitely flexible and creates more time to accomplish many more important things, by reducing the time spent buying food, preparing, eating, cleaning up. Fasting is free and saves money. This can lower the average household food budget of 10%, especially if reducing dining in restaurants.
Blessings from the Sacrifice
Fasting demonstrates our sincere longing for closeness with God. It is also a means by which God can bridge the gap between heaven and earth, giving us Spiritual freedom from the oppressive yoke of sin. Through this process we are freed from depraved judgement, the bondage of what the world desires from us, and the attraction to temporal things that all sinners are tempted to strive for.
The last 18 months have been a stark reminder of the hymn “This World is Not My Home”. As we approach Thanksgiving, we can all be grateful that we just through, as we await Christ’s Ever Nearer Second Coming!
Take time now to reflect on blessings you may have been waiting and praying for. They may fall upon you like raindrops from heaven, when you begin the spiritual discipline of fasting.