What to Do When you Can't Eat and Can't Sleep During a Fast, Meditative Moments
Fasting is boring. While everyone else is heading to lunch, you feel left out and wonder what to do. Fasting reveals how much time we spend planning, preparing, finding, and eating food. How often, mid-morning, do you find yourself wondering, "How long until lunch?" Get ready because when you fast, it may be two or three more days until lunch. And when lunchtime rolls around, everyone else in the office will leave you sitting there. So what are you going to do with the time?
I find it hard to sleep when I fast. Hunger makes it hard to go to sleep and stay asleep. But here is the strange thing about it. I am hungry but not weary. I wake up alert. Energized. Thinking.
I'm listening for God to speak.
Psalm 63 is the spirit of fasting. David is separated from food, but he is satisfied by a "fat and rich" experience with God (Psalm 63:5). In verse 6, he mentions a strategy for those sleepless nights. "When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night (Psalm 63:6)."
When you fast, fill your mind with Scripture. Take those lonely lunch breaks and get in God's Word. When you would normally be eating breakfast, redeem the time and memorize Scripture.
Those otherwise boring hours become meditative moments when you are full of Scripture and focused in prayer. Those sleepless nights become conversations with God. It may not be when you first read it, but get ready. It may be at 4 AM during your fast that God brings a passage you read up again. Don't just lay there. Don't just sit there. Get on your knees, have pen in hand! God speaks clearly in meditative moments.
The word meditate in Psalm 63:6 speaks of how a cow digests food. First, she chews on it and swallows it. Later, she brings it up again and chews on it some more. Several times she repeats the process.
In fasting, there should be some key passages or a book of the Bible in which you are doing a deep dive. Eat the Word. Digest it a little, and later, bring it up again.
You are seeking God's voice. You are open to what the Spirit would say and show you from God's Word. So you meditate. Approach the Bible in a way that you can bring it up again.
The word meditate also refers to a sound. It's that epiphany moment when a new idea dawns. It is reading something that brings about a revelation. You can't explain it, but you understand it completely. Meditate is the "Mmmmm-hmmm" of a soul-shaking moment.
And it may come at 3 AM on the second day of your fast. That "Mmmm-hmmm" may hit you in the middle of the night because you studied Isaiah 61 at lunch and prayed through it during dinner the day before.
Fasting can be boring, but it leads to breakthroughs. Sleepless nights become meditative moments when the Spirit speaks.