Pray Your Hunger

Your belly can bring you closer to God during Lent.

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Posted in , Mar 10, 2015

An empty plate. Photo by Igor Stevanovic, Thinkstock.

Lent is traditionally a season of self-discipline and self-denial when many people fast.

Some fast during the 40 days before Resurrection Sunday. Some fast from meat–or at least red meat–on Fridays (which is why many restaurants offer Friday fish specials at this time of year). Some fast from all food one day a week.

Have you ever done that? Have you refrained from eating as a spiritual practice for a day? Or two? I recommend it. Here’s why.

In the normal course of things, I pray with my mind and, I hope, with my spirit. Sometimes my heart gets involved, too, particularly if my prayer is urgent or desperate or both.

However, when I fast–when I go without food for 24 hours or more–my body gets in on the act. I get rumbly in my tumbly, as Winnie-the-Pooh might say. My stomach growls. My head might hurt. My physical senses all begin to cooperate to notify me that my usual intake of thousands of calories a day has stopped.

When that happens, I experience a sort of prayer that is unique to times of fasting–at least for me. It may sound strange, but when I am fasting and my stomach grumbles, it alerts me that I’m doing something different. It reminds me that I’m choosing a different focus.

Instead of catering to my belly (as I usually do), I’m intentionally denying it to focus on God and draw closer to him. In other words, every rumble and grumble invites me to pray.

Sometimes–especially on the second day of a fast–my hunger itself becomes a form of prayer, turning into thoughts and words, emotions and desires.

Try it. Go without food for a day, maybe two. Do it long enough to get past cravings and experience true hunger (a sensation many of us haven’t encountered for years).

And when that happens–when your stomach growls and churns–pray your hunger.

Tags: Lent,Prayer,God
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