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Video Blog: What a 40-Day Fast From Excess Might Look Like for Your Family

I introduced you to Chris Seay on Monday (watch the video here, if you missed it) and he shared a little of his heart for giving and reaching out to the poor.
In today’s video, Chris shares more about his yearly 40-day fast and how it looks for him and his family.

While what Chris and his family have chosen to do might not work for your family, I’d love to challenge you to consider what you could give up in your own life to experience in a tiny way what millions of those in poverty experience on a daily basis.

Perhaps you could considering eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast for a month. Or, have a meatless meal twice a week for an extended time period. Or, eat from the pantry for a few weeks. Or, maybe you do something entirely unrelated to food.

Watch the video short below and then I’d love to hear your ideas on how a 40-day fast from excess might work for your family:

Interview w. Money Saving Mom Part 2 from Chris Seay on Vimeo.

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17 Comments

  • kathy says:

    Thank you for sharing this. This idea of “fasting” in a way that is completely do-able for a family, in order to bring awareness to the suffering of others, is really intriguing. I am ordering Chris Seay’s book today and plan on prayerfully considering how our family can participate in this concept.

  • Marlana says:

    sooooo cool. I am friends with a missionary in the country where I live. He was depressed, and a guy in the states who had never met him prayed and fasted for him for 40 days. Talk about cool.

    I’ve seen kids sewed in rags, malnourished, of course no electricity or running water. Its so hard to get people who have never seen that kind of lifestyle to understand. Recently we were helping kids in the trash dump in Cambodia. A mother said her daughter was throwing up, of course wanted medicine. We were like, if your drinking black water from the sewage, of course your vomiting. The problem is, the parents will sell the water purifiers. These children need our prayers — they need our understanding, bu they need our prayers, too.

  • Jen bell says:

    Last year my 18 yr old son decided to only spend $14 for food two weeks. If he didnt buy it he didn’t eat it. Including things like salt etc. He did this to feel what it would feel like to go hungry and to not have food. It was really hard for him.
    Our family has done the no tv for 40 days. And honestly I enjoyed it. Was a great bonding time.

  • Anna says:

    In my job I drive around the city making visits to agencies. I drove in some of the more “poor” sides of town and was amazed at the number of people I saw with bags of groceries waiting for the bus plus the number of homeless people in the nooks and crannies of buildings (very cold here). For a moment I thought that could be me, homeless or without a car and I was so grateful to have my car and to be warm. I was humbled by what I saw yesterday and I drive in these areas all the time but for some reason yesterday’s observations really impressed me.

    THEN TODAY, I read your posting and viewed the video. I feel like a message is being sent my way. For whatever reason, I think we will as a family do a fast from excess for 40 days during Lent. I am not sure what but something. I do think we will donate one perishable to the food bank for each day of the fast as well as something else to be determined.

    Thank you for a moving posting.

  • One of the coolest things that has happened to us this year is meeting and becoming friends with a family that recently moved here from Kenya. My children’s world has been completely opened up. It was interesting watching my children when the dad told them he got his first pair of shoes when he was 14 and was going to high school. We have so many shoes we can’t ever find them! Or that most children will never read a book other than their schoolbooks (if they are lucky enough to go to school.) There are no public libraries and no children’s books. We’re praying as a family about what God wants us to do with this new information.

  • bethany says:

    I’m doing the Jen Hatmaker 7 challenge. Each month has specific fasts that encourage the Holy Spirit to move in and make changes, elminating the unnecessary excess in our lives. I definitely recommend it.

    • Adrian W. says:

      I’ve never commented here before, but I think this one is worth commenting for. My wife and I are also going through 7 (by Jen Hatmaker) together, and it’s freeing, so say the least. You should really check it out! Also, we’re from Wichita, so we obviously know what we’re talking about. =)

  • Joy Smith says:

    This is awesome! Our church does a 21-day fast every January and it has rocked our world. Many of our teens fasted facebook or some sort of technology and most of adults greatly restricted their food choices. For the last year and a half, I’ve chosen something to fast each month. I’ve given up facebook, alcohol, reading fiction, eaten vegan and twice I’ve chosen only 10 or 12 articles of clothing to wear the entire month. It has opened my eyes to what I need versus what I want, and many times given me a renewed point of reference for how I should be living.

  • Melanie says:

    As part of our faith one Sunday a month is set aside as a “fast Sunday”. Those who are physically able are asked to fast (go without food/drink) for two meals. We hold a worship service where people are welcome to share their testimonies with the group. Then, those who are able and willing, are asked to give the money they would have spent on the meals that they missed as a “fast offering”. This money is then used 100% to help feed the hungry. It has been such a faith building experience and a way to redirect my thoughts and my life to those things that are most important. Thank you so much for sharing this interview.

  • Lori says:

    Before He started His ministry, Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days and then let the devil tempt Him. Of course, He’s God and wasn’t in the least bit tempted like we as weak creatures would be but He did it to lead by example. We, too, are supposed to pray, to fast, and to give alms to make us stronger to resist temptation. His Church still practices this 40 day fast every year – it’s called Lent – and it’s always full of blessings!

  • Meredith says:

    I fasted Facebook for a trial in January. I ended up permanently deleting my account. For starters, only four of my hundreds of friends (excluding family) wondered where I was. I learned that it was taking precious time away from me being a mommy and wife. After a reflection period, I learned how lucky I was to have technology at my finger tips to have instant gratification of knowing someone was close or having an answer. I also realized how much time I needed to spend with my husband and daughter. In turn, it made me realize how lucky I was to be a stay at home mom, make warm dinners for my family, and to have a loving husband. While some kids don’t get to see their moms or dads, know them, or even have a warm meal. The kid from fourth grade math class and mark zuckerberg are just going to have to know life without me!

    I’ve also thought of giving up soda (I drink diet natural). I used to drink four or five diet cokes a day and realized it was bad for me. Some people don’t even get clean water and I moan when trader joes is out of hansens.

  • Anna says:

    After my husband and I were married, I discovered he did a 40 day fast from something every year leading up to Easter. What he fasted from changed from year to year, but he has always seen God do amazing things in his life during that time. Last year I joined him, and it was challenging but also neat to be reminded on a regular basis of how much God gave up for us and my need to be totally dependant on Him, nothing else.

  • Sadina says:

    I fast one month a year because of Ramadan( holy month in Islam) which includes no food or water from sunrise to sunset. I occasionally fast a day or two in the other months as well. It reminds you of what other people are going through and to be grateful for what you have, because even though sometimes it feels like you are missing out on something it reminds you that others are going on with much less.

  • Megan says:

    I am thinking I’ll be doing a fast from all forms of sugar (except fruit) for Lent. I just finished Kisses from Katie and it really touched me! I noticed how grateful all the children were just for food, any food. I think having nothing sweet to eat would be a good reminder to pray for those sweet children who so desperately need to be loved and held. I’m 7 months pregnant so I know it will be tough going without sweets!! I’m also considering adding another fast, possible from luxery spending on things like make-up, clothes, etc. I’m not sure how to define this one yet though. I read 7 and Kisses from Katie in 2 days and they were both amazing and heart-breaking and inspiring! Maybe I’ll do the 7 points of prayer next month! And with the money I save I want to send it to Amazina 🙂

  • Nancy says:

    This is such a wonderful and timely idea. Too often frugality is viewed as greediness and miserliness. If we can instead be better stewards of our resources, our frugality can bless so many. Very inspiring!

  • Katherine says:

    When I was growing up, my family was very poor. My father had a lower back injury before he met my mother, and was on 30% disability. He could never find a job – the location of his injury affected more than just his spine – he couldn’t stand for long periods of time or lift more than a certain weight. And since he didn’t have a college degree, finding a job outside of manual labor was nearly impossible. He couldn’t work an office job because he lacked any technical skills. We didn’t have a car because we couldn’t afford the gas or the insurance – much less come up with the couple thousand needed to purchase a used car up front without any monthly payments. We ate primarily boxed and canned, high-sodium food. As such, we were often in poor health. My mom tried working, but she could never make enough money to off set the benefits we’d loose.

    I went to college on scholarships and financial aid. I recently married the love of my life, and I (thankfully) live far away from where I grew up. But in this economy, things are still tight. I’m not used to living an extravagant life, so I’m completely fine living within (if not under) my means. I coupon to save money on items like cleaning products, toiletries and laundry detergent so I can eat healthy, fresh food and stay clear from as many pre-packaged items as possible. I still lack the luxury of cable, a land-line, health insurance and high-speed internet (my current connection is the lowest cable speed available – apx 782 kbps). My husband and I gave up meat for the entire month of January so we could lower our cost of food and give ourselves a little health boost. However, despite these “have nots,” we don’t feel poor. By not having cable, my husband and I spend more time together and read more often. Since we cannot afford health insurance, we do our best to live an active, healthy life style.

    I think it’s important that everyone give up something for an extended amount of time. Often, people complain about the most trivial of things without a full understanding of what it’s like to “go without.”

  • Kelly S says:

    Thanks for posting these videos!

    My husband and I have decided that during Lent, we’ll do two weeks of eating from three different countries – so six weeks total. We chose one from each continent that houses the largest number of poor people – Honduras (Feb 22 – March 6), Kenya (March 7-20), and Thailand (March 21 – April 8). We got the list of staple foods from Chris Seay’s web site (http://chrisseay.net/sites/default/files/suggested_staple_foods_compassion_countries.pdf) and are designating a limited amount of foods to eat during each two week period (mostly just the ones from that list, but a few others to round out some food groups plus account for our CSA subscription which we can’t back out of). I’m five months pregnant, so we were a bit limited in what we could do – I didn’t feel very comfortable doing any literal fasting (skipping meals) or having an exceptionally limited diet, so I think this will be a good way to connect with some particular countries, get a little “bored” with eating the same staple foods over and over again, etc.

    During the two weeks that we’re focusing on each country, we’re going to pray for that country (using guides from the book Operation World – operationworld.org) and research that country (using the internet, books from the library, plus a few books we already own, and maybe watch documentaries on Netflix if available). In addition, we’re going to designate some money to charities that work in each of those three respective countries.

    Thanks for the inspiration! We’ve been wanting to do something like this, but things have gotten in the way a few times before (we just stocked up on tons of groceries, we’ll have house guests for a lot of the time, etc.), so now we’re just going to make it happen! 🙂 Looking forward to seeing how God works in our hearts AND how we’re able to help others through this experience.

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