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Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

The Eucharist Diet: Dissecting Hunger

posted by Mark Herringshaw

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…”

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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…

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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…

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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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The Eucharist Diet: An Unorthodox Leverage of Orthodoxy

posted by Mark Herringshaw

January 22, 2010

Day 21

Weight: 199 lbs

Weight lost: -7 lbs

I’ve fallen below the benchmark threshold of 200 lbs! I think I’ll celebrate with something chocolate…

I can’t figure – exactly – how this is happening, except to credit it to my experiment. I’m finding myself no longer ravenous for everything edible. Enough seems to be enough. And yet yesterday I managed a decent breakfast of oatmeal, a luxurious lunch of grilled walleye, warm and fresh French bread and butter, and caramel draped apple pie, salad and soup for supper, and communion before bedtime shared with my wife Jill and son, Michael. All and all, satisfied!

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But tonight and tomorrow will be a real test of my theory.  I’ll be attending and speaking at a men’s retreat in Northern Minnesota.  Men eat, and eat a lot at these kinds of things. Given my “unorthodox leverage of orthodoxy” strategy, the outcome should be interesting to measure. We’ll see when I get back and step on the scales on Sunday.

Through the retreat my plan will remain unchanged: I’m not going to impose any strict discipline on myself or do any more exercise than usual. I’m just going to “consume” Jesus, and let him take care of the rest!

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“Once again, God, I begin by acknowledging that I need more than toast and eggs and coffee. I do need breakfast, and I appreciate it, as it goes. But I need more to fill the deeper empty places. I need what only you can supply. I need you. But as quickly as I ask, you respond. You come and give me yourself. And for that most of all, I am grateful.”  

“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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Free Audio Book – “The Karma of Jesus”

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Last October I released my latest book, “The Karma of Jesus.” In December I recorded an audio version of the book. Now, for a limited period, my publisher, Bethany House, is offering a free download of this unabridged reading of the book.  

To download go to www.dumpyourkarma.com and follow the prompts.

You can also order the “hard” version online at The Karma of Jesus.

Then later I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Mark Herringshaw 

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Prayer for Haiti: From “Why, God?” to “How, God?”

posted by Mark Herringshaw

“Why, God?”

Looking at pictures of the pain and sorrow in Haiti, that’s our natural question. We want to know why a loving and all powerful God would allow such devastation. Be honest now. All of us want to know this…

But “Why, God?” is a question God seldom addresses. It’s a prayer he seldom answers. Instead…  In my book, co-written with Jennifer Schuchmann, Six Prayers God Always Answers, I address this question of questions… We naturally ask “Why?” But it seems there’s a far better way to address God in the face of crisis. Here’s an excerpt:

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Some of our why questions are as old as life itself.

Why is there evil?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why does a good God allow such pain and suffering?

But why can easily move beyond an honest request to become a passive-aggressive demand for reparation. It can ring with a scolding tone, expecting God to own up to some grand foible and concede he’s done something wrong.

We attempt to lay our grievances on his doorstep, but God stoutly refuses to be made answerable for the mishaps of this world. He is God, and he won’t take responsibility for that which he didn’t do. God won’t be made party to evil. It is in the world of its own accord. God won’t be made to feel the guilt.

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But the Bible never explains evil. The lack of explanation drives us toward our own when we can’t find his. The rational Greek-logic answer would force a decision. Either God is all powerful and unjust, or just, but too weak to enforce it.

The Hebrews answer the perplexity differently. For them the solution is both/and. The Psalmist writes, “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard; that you, O God, are strong, and that you O God, are loving.” We feel the matter as two things, powerful and unjust or just and weak. But for God it is a unified question. He is loving and strong. Their answer forces us to consider our own. Sometimes we can’t see the answer because it isn’t obvious until we ask a different question.

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That “different” question is “how?” Instead of seeking the cause for a crisis, what if instead we ask God, “Now that this is problem is here, how do I respond? How are you responding? How can I cooperate with you in fixing it?”

From “Why?” to How?”

“God we don’t fully understand why this terrible crisis has befallen Haiti. You are not answering our questions demanding an explanation. But we can ask, “How?” How can respond with you now? How can we be your hands and feet? How can we pray? How can we know and cooperate with you in this dark day?  God, we trust you. Lead us. Lead the leaders of Haiti and those working in relief programs. Turn this broken place into a new beacon of hope. In Jesus…”


 

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