Recently, professional golfer, Phil Mickelson decided to take action regarding his recent poor performance on the golf course.
He decided to fast for six days.
Mickelson, a five-time major champion, has had a stroke of bad luck since winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (no pun intended), and he has missed the cut in four of his past six starts. So, as his on-course performance continued to suffer, he chose an alternate course of action to get back on track.
Phil acknowledged his downward spiral in a recent video that he posted to Twitter, and he also shared a bit of insight regarding his swift change and decision to fast.
“The last ten days, I’ve done what I call ‘a hard reset’ to change and try and make things better,” he said.
Upon watching Mickelson’s Twitter video, one can only imagine what others thought about his decision to fast for six days, especially considering his job as a professional athlete. Understandably, he needs energy and sustenance to perform; however, clarity, concentration and inner strength are necessary tools for quality performance, too, and fasting often leads those to gain a new level of mental, emotional and spiritual clarity.
Often, people hear the word “fast” and assume it’s all about food deprivation, typically for weight loss goals. However, fasting is a powerful course of action that brings us closer to the Lord.
Mickelson had mentioned his desire to do “a hard reset,” and this is applicable in the spiritual sense, too. Phil’s desire to do “a hard reset” is a rather powerful reminder that Christians commonly seek this habit to establish a greater desire for God.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24).
In a spiritual fast, we deny ourselves food so that we can seek God in a stronger capacity. Fasting is not required in the Scripture, but this certainly helps in developing a closer relationship with God because we no longer fixate and succumb to what we think we need or crave. Instead, we direct our attention to Christ. Fasting is not intended to be torturous or a form of punishment. A spiritual fast involves a focus on faith, and this practice is actually for health and not physical detriment.
Fasting for health and not harm certainly seems contradictory. After all, you’re withholding food from your body. However, denying your need for food is vital to a fast because withholding food, or denying your body for this basic need, is a direct reflection of discipline. Managing your power to deny your body its regular desires creates new space for faith, self-control and spiritual trust.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
You see, hunger is actually easily solved. You merely grab a bite to eat, and that’s that. However, gaining a deeper sense of spirituality or a closer relationship with the Lord is not as easily remedied. That requires effort, time and intentionality. Your spiritual hunger can be quenched in a number of ways, including the act of fasting, thus resulting in something far greater than your relationship with Christ.
Whether you fast for spiritual reasons or a mental and physical recharge, there is a commonality each willing participant understands—our flesh is merely one fraction of our being. We have our hearts and our minds to account for, too, yet the discomfort of fasting allows us to be in tune with each part of our body, graciously created by our Lord and Savior.