Of sick saints and fasting wisely
The Bible touches a lot on wisdom and the importance of understanding, and it is for this same reason that many church leaders, especially those who are experienced in the medical field, warn against those Christians who perpetually fast despite health conditions.
On the issue of sick saints and fasting, Reverend Lloyd Millen quoted a scripture taken from Proverbs 3:5-6, which speaks about believers trusting in The Lord and leaning not to their own understanding in all matters of religious practices.
"Wisdom is the primary thing. Our bodies are the temple of the Lord. We must do everything we can to preserve and protect the temple. There are some health conditions that make fasting impossible or almost impossible for some believers. People with such health challenges must pay close attention to their doctor's advice. Believers can also observe partial fast, where persons are unable to observe fasting for health reasons," he said, adding that there are alternatives to fasting.
Pointing out that fasting is only one element of worship, Millen listed prayer, praise, scripture reading, and time of intense devotion in private and in fellowship with other believers as alternatives for those Christians who are unable to fast due to ill health.
"The New Testament does not give any specific commands or regulations for fasting. Fasting is a wonderful element of worship for believers, but we must use godly wisdom in all that we do," Millen said.
Sharing her expertise, the worship leader and sanctuary choir chaplain at the Escarpment Road New Testament Church of God in Kingston who works as a registered nurse at a popular health facility, said that whether it is wise for Christians who struggle with health issues to fast all depends on the type and length of fast that they participate in.
According to her: "Similarly, when patients come in for blood and it requires them to fast, if he or she is diabetic, we advise them not to. From a religious point of view, I'd advise especially diabetics not to do an absolute fast.
"For chronic illnesses, patients who fast for a very long time are at risk for hypoglycemia, which means the blood sugar level goes way beyond normal range. The patient will become very lethargic, confused and sweat profusely. Worst-case scenario is that he/she can enter into a comatose state."