By Sam Eyoboka
AS the annual fasting and prayer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, began Tuesday, the General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has exempted pregnant women from the exercise.
The annual RCCG fasting begins February 1 and runs till the last day of the month. During the January Holy Ghost service at the Redemption Camp, Pastor Adeboye instructed all members of the church to wait on the Lord throughout the month of February.
It is customary in RCCG that fasting period begins at 6.00 a.m. till 6.00 p.m. daily.
A statement from the General Overseer’s office, Tuesday, however, urged pregnant women to just continue praying for the nation without fasting. The statement added: “If you are pregnant or a nursing mother, kindly leave the fasting to the rest of us. It is well with you in Jesus name.”
The statement explained that because of the peculiarity of pregnant women and nursing mothers, the church had to exempt them from the month-long period of spiritual exercise aimed at developing a closer relationship with God.
A study by scientists in the United States, based on census data from the US, Iraq and Uganda, found that pregnant women who fast are likely to have smaller babies who are more prone to learning disabilities in adulthood.
The researchers from Columbia University found that this trend was most marked if mothers-to-be fasted early on in their pregnancy and during the summer when longer days meant they went more hours without food.
Religious leaders say pregnant women shouldn’t attempt to fast as it puts the health of their unborn baby at risk.
Biblically, fasting is abstaining from food, drink, sleep or sex to focus on a period of spiritual growth. Specifically, Christians are expected to humbly deny something of the flesh to glorify God, enhance their spirit, and go deeper in their prayer life.
Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food, but the purpose of fasting is to take our eyes off the things of this world and instead focus on God. Fasting, according to Bible scholars, should be limited to a set time, especially when the fasting is from food.
Extended periods of time without eating are harmful to the body, since fasting is not intended to punish our flesh, but to focus on God.