I’ll never forget the first time I told my business partner Ramanan that I’d be fasting for the first 21 days of the year. He’s probably the most devout atheist I’ve ever met and I thought he’d be violently opposed to the idea because it would take away from my productivity at work.
RR: “So what does this fasting entail?”
JK: “Well everyone from our church fasts for the first 21 days of the year. You’re supposed to give up something that you place great value on. I used to wrestle and we cut weight before each match, so while I’m going to fast from food it’s not as huge a deal for me as it is for some others. As you know I’m also a total workaholic and that’s much harder for me to give up, so I have decided to also fast from work.”
[Long awkward silence]
JK: “I mean I’m not going to eat but I’ll be drinking liquids every other day. The other off days I’ll be drinking water so I'll be plenty hydrated. And with work I’ll just take half of each day off to go hang out with God, so I’ll still be online.“
RR: “Ok I’m very supportive of you taking time to recharge but I’m also really worried about your health. Also isn’t this the worst possible time to be fasting? The most important deal in the history of our firm just went live!”
JK: “Well in my way of viewing the world, which is admittedly different from yours, the best thing I can do to get this deal done is to fast. I know it’s counterintuitive, but as a way of recognizing God’s primacy in victory, the Israelites used to fast before entering into battle, just when they needed sustenance the most. So it’s actually kind of the best time for me to fast now.”
After explaining to Ramanan he fully supported me that year and every subsequent year, and we’ve hit more and more milestones after periods of fasting.
I don’t believe it’s a transactional thing where God says “if you fast, I’ll give you a deal”, but it’s more about getting my heart into the right place. Once that happens then a natural outflow of that is that all this crazy cosmic stuff goes down.
Most spiritual disciplines have a history of fasting that goes back thousands of years, but only in more modern times have the health benefits of fasting also been well documented. (Check out BBC’s documentary "Eat, Fast, Live Longer")
While I’m a fan of more modern day productivity systems like GTD, maybe it’s worth trying out fasting as a tool to live a more efficient and meaningful life. It’s worked wonders for me and billions of others throughout history.