My church is doing a program called the 30-hour famine. In order raise awareness and money, teenagers and adult volunteers skip lunch and dinner on Friday and then breakfast on Saturday. The Fast is from 7AM Friday to Noon on Saturday.
The wear "30-hour" famine shirts to school and when asked, they explain the program to teachers and peers. Then, Friday night a group of churches gather. This year, 6 youth groups come together at our church. They play games, have worship (with some pretty loud, rocking music), and they sleep in cardboard boxes to get a sense of the experience of homeless people.
It is a good time of learning for the kids. And the money they raise through pledges and fundraisers goes to fight hunger in our state and around the world. In 2009 and 2010, most of the funds raised were sent to Haiti.
I have participated as a leader and as one who fasted in the past two years. This year, alas, I am just a leader. I will be at the church from 1-3AM Saturday, just monitoring. During those hours, the kids will be asleep in their cardboard cities set up all around the church. I will just be an adult presence watching over things and helping where help is needed.
Why did I decide not to fast this year? Well, I had been doing some fasting already as a part of my Lenten discipline. And this morning I worked out pretty hard at the YMCA. Knowing I was going to have much interrupted sleep tonight (on top of interrupted sleep throughout this week from my precious children), and knowing I have to preach Sunday, I decided to not be over tired and overly hungry. So, I'll just be overly tired.
I don't know how to think about it when I go into a fast, and the fail to keep it. Is that a spiritual failure. Am I failing God? I don't think so, but I think my culture tends toward legalism (both American culture and evangelical culture). So, if the rule is don't eat, and I eat, then I broke the rule and am a failure.
But fasting isn't supposed to earn gold stars next to my name in the lamb's book of life. It is supposed to draw me closer to Jesus. If all I am doing by fasting (on top of not sleeping) is getting cranky and mean, then to me, that is the failure, whether I keep the fast or not. I have had some real positive times of fasting this Lent. So, I am not too worried about the fruit and pizza I ate a while ago. I am just grateful for the blessings I have and grateful that Jesus loves me and allows me to serve Him whether it is as a father, as a citizen, or as a volunteer as a youth event.