How Fasting Promotes Attentiveness

Sometimes it takes losing something to pay attention to what’s really important.

I learned this the hard way when I was with a group of guys who were challenged to practice fasting from an activity. I knew of fasting from food, but this was my first experience thinking about cutting out busyness. Each of us determined to cut something for a week or two and come back to share the results.

At the time, I was busier than ever, and my craziness centered around my preoccupation with email. You see, I believed in a “Zero Inbox” policy. (If you know what I mean, you might want to consider this fasting activity!) I could justify my activity by keeping in touch with family or taking care of things at church. But, I also knew I needed to cut something.

So, good-bye email!

A few days into it, I awoke from what seemed to be a trance. (Had long had I been standing here staring at a blank computer screen?) It took me almost a week to walk by the computer without slowing down, but I eventually broke the cycle. I had succeeded! But, at what?

I had succeeded in revealing something that was an idol.

My constant connectivity had taken up valuable time from my family. The regular checking had replaced some of my regular praying with God throughout the day. With the fast, I was able to reclaim what was lost. And what was lost was profoundly important.

When the group of men gathered again, a friend’s story brought this reality all the way home for me.

His choice was fasting from watching ESPN or football.

You think that is hard? Then let me tell you that our two weeks of fasting were at the end of January. (If you’re yelling at the computer right now, you might want to consider this fasting activity!) But he decided to do this because he was determined not to fast from something that wasn’t important to him.

This man chose to turn his gaze from the TV and computer toward his wife. When the urge to watch came, he went to be with his wife. With the extra time he had gained, he invested it all into his relationship with his bride.

As he shared, we all sat motionless. But it couldn’t top when he made the following statement.

“I learned things about my wife that I never knew before I fasted from football. I need to be sure I keep this in check.”

Through fasting, we had learned to tune in to what was truly important.

I wonder if I can say anything like David who wrote Psalm 63–

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is not water.

Would that be an accurate assessment of my self-proclaimed priorities?

Or would the reality be that I earnestly seek a Zero Inbox; my soul thirsts for more football; my body longs for more intense workouts?

Practicing the discipline of fasting promotes attentiveness — keeping me tuned in to God and to those around me.

Fasting helps me remember to live The Great Commandment.

Sometimes it takes losing something to pay attention to what’s really important. Knowing this, fasting should be a regular discipline in my life.


Is there something that so important to you that it may be replacing your love for God and others? Consider a fast, and consider sharing your experience with others below.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Repost/Reprint

    If you would like to repost an entry from my blog on your blog or website, please include a link to the original post. If you would like to reprint an entry, please request reprint permission. Thanks!
  • Contact Info

    Message me on
    Facebook or Twitter

  • Archives

%d bloggers like this: