Body Hygiene And Fasting (Zacharias T. Fomum)

It is important that proper body hygiene be maintained during fasting. This is so for the whole body in general and for some parts in particular.

THE MOUTH

It is very important to take proper care of the mouth during fasts. Even during a short fast of three days the mouth must be treated properly. It is advisable to brush the teeth three to six times every day during the fast. Unless this is done there will be a horrible mouth odour that will be unbearable to anyone to whom you have to talk. You may not be disturbed by the odour, but anyone to whom you may want to speak will be greatly disturbed. Out of love for him, brush your teeth several times a day.

There is another side to it. If you do not brush your teeth and wash your mouth several times a day, you have chosen to publicize your fast by the odour that will be coming out of your mouth. I believe that you have no such intention.

THE BODY

We recommend that all who are fasting should bathe every day. The body always feels better and stronger after a bath. It may even be helpful to bathe two or three times a day.

Some people prefer cold water, while others prefer warm water. It is up to you to decide what you want.

During very long fasts like the forty-day fasts, the body may be too weak after the thirtieth day for you to bathe easily. We encourage all who are fasting for such lengths of time to try to bathe once every day, because the bath will help them. I found it necessary during such times to pray, asking the Lord to accompany me to the bathroom and to protect me from falling. There were times when I felt too weak to lift my body from the bath. I sat there for some time and had a prayer session there. After it was over, the Lord renewed my strength and I was able to stand up.

CLEAN CLOTHES

We recommend that all who are fasting should wear clothes that do not pronounce to people, “Behold, a fasting, suffering person.” Those who are on short fasts of three to seven days should dress even better than normally and should carry themselves in a way that hides the fact of their fast as much as possible.

Those on long fasts will find it difficult to completely hide the fact that they are fasting after the twentieth day. They should, however, appear their best, so as not to become a burden to those who see them. (If you appear as the very embodiment of misery, you may, by your attempt to draw attention to yourself paint a bad image of the Lord in some heart. You may also cause some never to attempt long fasts.) Your appearance must be such that those who see you can say, “He does not look bad after all. I, too, will attempt a long fast for the glory of my Lord.”

Socks, pants, and the like must be changed on daily basis.

The bed sheets should be changed regularly. Everything should be arranged in such a way that all is attractive.

OTHER ISSUES

A good gift to take to a person on a long fast is a bouquet of flowers. It will brighten his room and brighten his soul.

There are some unusual capacities developed by fasting people, including an unusual capacity of taste and smell. During one of my fasts, everyone who entered my room after the thirtieth day had a very distinct smell, and all the smells were horrible.

This is not the case of all the people on very long fasts. You should find out if your body odour (which may be acceptable normally) is an offence to the fasting believer whom you want to visit. If he is offended by your body odour, do not get close to him. Be kind to him by standing or sitting at a distance (that is, if you must visit him).

There are other things each person will discover for himself as he treads the pathway of fasting with the Lord. May the Lord bless you along that path. Amen.

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