Prayer, Plain and Simple

January 25, 2010

Day 24

Weight: 200 lbs

Weight lost: -6 lbs


What is hunger? Looking at the horrid pictures of the broken people of Haiti, I’m convinced I do not truly know. “God, teach me to see the emptiness deep in my in order to more eagerly desire you, and to more completely sense your own pain for the pains of this world…”

I gained one pound and lost ground over of weekend. I’m irked. But I guess given the treacherous temptations I faced at the men’s retreat Friday and Saturday, I should be content that the outcome wasn’t worse. They don’t design men’s retreats as places for dietary discipline. Food of the sugary, fat filled stripe is everywhere and in great abundance. And why do I eat mountains of the stuff? Because it is there.

Upon reflection, on my 3 hour drive home, I’ve concluded that I seldom eat because I’m hungry – really hungry. I eat because I can. In my world food is almost always within reach. I simply don’t really know true hunger. I don’t often let myself get that far. Thus, my sad and guilty reflections on the plight of my brothers in Haiti…

In this season of my “Eucharist diet” I’m deliberately not fasting or dieting per se. I’m trying another course, taking Jesus meal as a kind of food supplement to feed the deeper hunger in my life. Food is often a kind of drug for me. I use it to push away physical and emotional desire, to dull pacify cravings of all kinds. I give myself a little pleasant pleasure to satisfy the voices my body and mind that scream for attention.

Traditionally Christians and others seeking spiritual fulfillment use another tactic to control appetite: fasting. Fasting is a Biblical spiritual discipline. The idea is that the best way to, as Jesus says, to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” is to hunger and thirst. I’ve fasted several times in my life, sometimes a single meal, sometimes a day, sometimes more. On two occasions I did 40 day fasts, with only juices. Challenging but rewarding…

The amazing thing I learned from my fasts was that during the fast itself I didn’t feel particularly close to God. I simply felt hungry! The real benefits seemed to come after the fasts were over. I felt “cleaner” and more focused and more prepared to live with intention and discipline.

I guess I’m looking at this process of taking communion every day as a kind of “fast.” In this case I’m not taking something away from my diet, I’m adding something. I’m taking a dietary supplement that I believe will both affect my appetite and increase my metabolism. It’s not a crash diet, obviously. I’m only down a net 6 pounds in three weeks. But I am feeling something happen. I’m feeling a deeper hunger to pray, know God, be with him and see his power and grace work in and through me. I’m more conscious and intentional to include him in the simplest choices of my day – like whether or not I have a piece of cheesecake. I think in the long this will change me. We’ll see…

“The Eucharist Diet” adventure is my six month experiment taking daily communion and tracking and posting the results in my personal life, relationships, health, and body fat percentage.

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