During the month of January, I usually do a corporate fast with my church to clarify my mind and get in tuned with the direction and focus I need to have to promote a successful year. Ever since I understood the benefits of fasting, I started to fast regularly and consistently to stay in tune for spiritual direction, healing, guidance and intercession. Even though I’ve been fasting for years, it was a process to get to the level I am now. Honestly, since I’m such a foodie, it’s hard to deny myself a mouth-watering steak at times. But when you are going through life struggles….you do what you have to do.
I recently got the revelation that fasting isn’t a tool to persuade God to answer my prayers. Instead, fasting is a spiritual and physical exercise that helps me to clear life’s clutter, so I can hear more clearly from God. God doesn’t need to be provoked before He answers our prayers. His love and grace for us is enough provocation.
“And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” Romans 11:6 (NKJV)
If our purpose for doing something is so God can bless us more, than that’s not considered grace. Grace can only function in an atmosphere of unworthiness. However, that doesn’t give us a right to be lawless and ratched. We demonstrate certain works to care for our neighbors and ourselves. It’s much easier for us to live harmoniously together in a state free from perpetual bondage when we don’t steal, kill, lie, lust, envy, etc.
Before you start fasting, it’s imperative that you figure out why you’re fasting in the first place.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish” Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
Do you need clarification on which major to choose? Or which job offer to accept? Or whether this particular guy is the one you should court? Knowing why you want to fast will help you stay focused when your stomach starts talking to you in all kind of ways during the fast. Lol.
Not all fast are created equal, but they are designed to capture the same result, spiritual connectedness. There are different types of fast at different durations. There is the popular Daniel’s fast which generally lasts 21 days where only fruits, vegetables and legumes are consumed. There is a liquid fast where only water and limited juices are consumed. There are periodic fasts where only one or two meals are skipped during the day and the person breaks in the evening for dinner. Some fasts last 3 days and some 40 days. It depends on your level of spiritual endurance. Therefore, if you are a beginner, I would suggest starting off gradually with a 1 or 3 day fast to build up your endurance. Fasting for 40 days can be overwhelming for someone who has never fasted before.
When I was studying for the Bar, I couldn’t do my regular liquid fast, because I kept falling asleep in the library. Studying volumes of case law was mentally draining! Instead, I fasted from sugar, because I usually indulged in sweets. I knew that type of fast would give me the necessary foundation of self-denial I needed to stay focused. To be honest, that was one of the most challenging fast I undertook, because so many foods had some form of processed sugar. My diet was restricted. Don’t deny the effects of the different types of fast.
Believe it or not, I sometimes forget pray and read my Bible during the day when I’m at work. It’s easy to forget if you have a busy schedule. While you’re fasting, try to limit your activities to create more time to focus on connecting with God. The prayers don’t have to be super long and they don’t have to be spoken out loud. I often pray at my work desk without my colleagues knowing. As long as God hears my heart, that’s all that matters.
For some reason, some Christians believe it’s more pious to look homely while you’re fasting. I don’t get that and Jesus doesn’t either.
“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. V. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. V. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 16-18)
If our life is a reflection of God’s goodness and glory, how would we inspire someone to get to know Jesus if we look homeless (true talk), because we trying to connect more with Him? Please wash your face and put on some perfume, the kingdom of God needs you to still look fabulous!
Fasting has twofold benefits. It is great physical practice, as much as, it is spiritual. Because your digestive system is on hiatus from over working itself to process a lot of the junk we put in our bodies, it has a chance to detox. Those impurities will now try to escape our bodies in various ways, increased acne, bad breathe, more sweat, weight loss, etc. Make sure to drink plenty of water to continue to flush out your system properly. You’ll be surprised how much energy you have after fasting, because your body was able to repair itself.
I think I’m speaking to myself on this one. If you’re used to sleeping late most nights, please do yourself a favor and practice going to bed early while you’re fasting. It will prevent you from falling asleep at your desk with drool and all. True story.
It’s that time of year again folks, where Pantone announces the color that will inspire and influence many creative minds. This year, Pantone chose dual colors, that when combined together creates a warm glow like a summer’s sunset over a desert. That vision may be deep for some, but that’s what I picture when I see rose quartz and serenity intertwined. It is a pleasant sight. Last year’s Marsala was richer and earthier, bringing in deep burgundy tones. However, seeing rose quartz in all its pink glory truly excites me. As you may noticed, pink is a favorite around here, so it’s sparking my creative juices. I’m also happy to see other creatives inviting warm pinks and gentle blues into their lives. Here is my take on the tonal inspiration:
How are you inspired by Rose Quartz & Serenity?
Lately, I haven’t been reading, as much as, I want to. I used to be an avid reader, before I went to law school. But it was something about being forced to read chapter after chapter of ancient case law, tedious briefs and monotonous legal opinions that sapped my energy from reading writings that celebrated creativity. Year after year, I fell into the habit of reading more academic prose than literary fiction. Now, I want to get back to reading for pure enjoyment.
In university, one of my majors was English and I concentrated on literature of the African diaspora. My concentration was a no-brainer for me. However, during my time, I found it difficult to find books by African authors who gave tribute to the American immigrant experience. So, I have a habit of searching for complex African literature that either speaks to my dual cultural experiences or teaches me about my African heritage in a way that brings life to my history. If you’re like me, you probably have a standing reading list on Amazon or another platform where you can store books in reserve that peak your interest. Here are five literary sweets from my list…
About a young Nigerian living in New York City who travels back to Lagos to visit. His happenings and observations in Lagos leads him to an introspective path of truth and reconciliation.
A compilation of proses about Nigerians in America and how they cope and live with their piece of the American pie.
Although this book is not about African culture per se, it addresses the issues of passing as an element of cultural divide and the essence of race and heredity.
A children’s book that sparked my interest, so much so, I included it on one of my Christmas gift guides. It follows a sheltered Nigerian boy’s quest to travel to Asaba, a city he has never explored, which takes him on an adventure through quintessential Nigerian experiences.
A desperate Nigerian cab driver living in New York plots to steal a statute of an ancient deity from his village in order to sell it to a NYC gallery. On his trip, he faces dichotomies of the Christian faith versus ancient beliefs, the modern life versus the exoticism of tribal living and the shifting nature of memory.
What African literary works are you reading?
Happy New Year G&P readers! To start off the year, I am determined to get super organized with my projects and things. Recently, I started setting goals based on my birth year. It allows me to see the bigger picture and compare my past desires to what I have actually accomplished thus far. However, because a slew of people tend to make resolutions at the beginning of the year, planners are in abundance right now.
Planners can be fun and pretty to look at, but at times they don’t offer enough substance to motivate me to get the goals done. An alternative has been life-setting planners. These planners go beyond a calendar wedged between soft leather binding with minimal free space to actually write down goals. Some have positive and motivating messages to inspire each day. Others have space to express our creative juices or to jot down what we are grateful for each day. These planners go beyond a daily to-do list by getting personal and meaningful.
These planners will do more than set your day, they will SET.YOUR.LIFE!
This planner is designed by The Lara Casey Shop and their goal is to help women make what matters most to them happen plain and simple. The sections are broken down into monthly, weekly and daily goals with areas that examine your vision, dreams and memories amongst other introspective prompts.
Passion Planner was created by a millennial who was at a state of confusion about her purpose post-graduation. The planner has sections to express our gratitude, to doodle or sketch and of course to plan. She wanted to create the planner as a tool to help people clearly define their personal goals and dreams. She did a great job doing so. The testimonials of the ambassadors can prove it.
The LifePlanner by Erin Condren is more reminiscent of a traditional planner, with the exception of inspirational quotes sprinkled all around. The icing is in the customization. These planners came in many colors including trendy rose gold and they can be personalized with your name of choice.
What do you use to set your life goals?