Practicing "Noodle" Theology
"Noodle Theology" can be mildly controversial because it goes against the status quo in some places. Noodle Theology is the practice of using your noodle also known as your brain in the application of theological issues and practices.
This ranges through all applications of your beliefs but the most commonly debated subject is how to fast. Based on the definition of fasting many people attempt to just not eat for a day and that can have both physical and spiritual consequences. For a normal person just not eating for a day leads to a drop in blood sugar which causes a lack of focus and bad moods. If your goal for the fasting is to help yourself become more like God then getting in a bad mood and snapping at people because you are hungry is not going to help. For people with pre-existing health issues skipping meals could mean a bad reaction to one of their medications or even fainting.
While we are called to practice our faith through fasting we are also called to take care of ourselves in a way that keeps us healthy. "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
So how do you fast while practicing noodle theology?
1. Why are you fasting?
To grow closer to God?
To hear a specific message about an event or choice?
As repentance for something that you have done?
Or is it for a more negative reason such as body shame (anorexia disguised as religious practice)? because my friends are doing it? to look more spiritual? to earn "Heaven points"?
2. Once you have defined why you are fasting and determined if it falls in line biblically be realistic with yourself about the physical aspects.
If it is 100 degrees outside and you're doing gardening all day you can't skip every meal and not drink water for days on end. If a full fast is not an option consider fasting a single food group. Good examples are soda, sweets, certain types of meat, or just restricted portion sizes throughout the day. For people with medical conditions that cause restricted diets or who already struggle with self-image when it comes to food, fasting food might be the wrong thing altogether.
In this day and age, we have bigger distractions from God than just the risk of gluttony. Back in the day eating wasn't as simple as driving up to a restaurant and getting a burger to go. It took up a large portion of a person's day with the meal prep and actual cooking and cleaning without the conveniences of electricity and running water. With that in mind, fasting can look like abstaining from what separates you from God.
This could be as simple as not watching TV for a week or as drastic as giving up your phone completely for a full month. A social media fast can be a valid fast, as long as you don't spend the time leading up to it and after bragging about it on media and don't spend the whole fast bemoaning it to your friends.
My eldest daughter has a heart for missions specifically towards those who practice Islam. Several years ago as a family we decided to fast Ramadan and spend our time praying for the salvation of Muslims and for God to show his true self during their religious practices. We all learned the hard way that fasting food a full day is not something anyone in our family could safely do. So we had to modify the fast to just breakfast and in the years that followed my eldest continued fasting during Ramadan but no longer with a whole meal at all. Any time she feels the want for a soda or chocolate during Ramadan she instead sends up a prayer for the salvation of others.
3. When you fast make sure you keep an eye on your health and on your perspective.
Be careful that abstaining from food does not make you angry towards others or risk your health. Don't get yourself so dehydrated you need to be hospitalized. This article is about how to fast safely in the context of your health and monitoring weight loss.
Fasting isn't just about missing out on something, it is to give you more time and reminders to pray. Skipping a meal is just that if you don't take your lunch break to pray.
Matthew 6: 16-18 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you..."