We must not starve ourselves. To feel good we need to have BOTH physical food and spiritual food. When we are without food we become hungry and cannot grow into the person we are intended to be, we cannot fulfill our potentiality.
We have talked about physical nutrition in other sections, so I won’t repeat all that information here, but I want you to think about the nutrition of the soul using the nutritional needs of our bodies as background.
Our habits of study, meditation, prayer, and fellowship with others who are caring, spirit-minded people are important in order to get the essential spiritual nutrients for growth as a whole person. Study, meditation and prayer help us dig into healthy servings of scripture. Fellowship is the means of mutual aid in the family of God. It helps us “digest” our spiritual food, and provides warnings about unhealthy foods, and at times even antidotes to them.
“Fasting” is sometimes advocated as a spiritual discipline to increase spiritual power. Jesus mentioned that some struggles with evil forces require fasting. Fasting is temporary cessation of eating food while maintaining fluid intake. Some participants find that it heightens their sense of God’s presence and strengthens their ability to control their bodily desires.
Others who fast find that they become weak, irritable, unable to concentrate, forgetful, delirious, and even psychotic. Delirium and psychosis can result from very low blood sugar and the release of chemical compounds from fats and proteins being transformed into energy.
Therefore, people with a family history of diabetes, hypoglycemia, or porphyria should not fast. Fasting should not be undertaken lightly and never for weight control purposes. The individual who fasts must drink liquids frequently. At least eight glasses of water should be consumed each day of the fast. Missing more than one or two meals of one day is to be discouraged. And skipping meals never should become a habit.
(For those of you who are healthy but have trouble controlling your physical weight, you may want to read about a way to reduce calorie intake without doing extreme fasting. I do not know enough about the long term results to recommend it but give you the link for your consideration.
Remember, Jesus asked God for “our daily bread.” Prolonged fasts stress the body unnecessarily and may have delayed consequences. An Eating Disorder is only one example of delayed consequences that are likely to develop as a result of prolonged fasts. Eating Disorders themselves have further delayed consequences with adverse effects on the body.
The body, in Christian teaching, is the “temple of the Holy Spirit” and deserves good nutrition and good care. Eat. Drink. Take in healthy foods and liquids to keep your body well so that you can keep your mind and spirit tuned in to God’s Spirit in your daily activities and not be distressed and distracted by unnecessary illness and disease.
If you believe that you must fast, have never fasted before, and do not know how it affects you, please fast only while someone else is with you to observe the effects on you and assist you if needed.
Neglecting opportunities for fellowship is another way of starving ourselves spiritually. If our appetite for meaningful fellowship is not being met by formal worship groups, and it seldom is, then we must set out to find those who wish to meet together.
That does not mean we should abandon the formal worship experience. Much of what occurs in a worship setting depends on the condition of our own hearts, whether we are seeking or criticizing.
Jesus said that where two or three are gathered together in his name, he would be with them. So a group of two or three seeking God’s will is enough to begin. Care should be taken that no one individual dominates the group and that members of the group do not depend too heavily on one individual for guidance. The guidance comes from the Spirit through the scriptures and the interdependent gifts to people and of people to the group. Leaders serve the group.
When the group serves the leader/s, serious problems can develop as we have seen over the years. Groups that have no attachment to mainline religious organizations have an increased potential for personality cults and exploitation of the members.
There is hunger in our weary world for nourishing spiritual food. Do your best to feed you.rself and others. I’m sure it pleases God for you to grow into your full potential as a human being.