Kevin Menezes

Loved and Saved by God alone to Love and Serve God alone.

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Fasting & Prayer: The Benefits of Lent

I usually back off from a lot of things during Lent, including social media, to make time for prayer and reflection, and to declutter my life…and it is always such a rewarding experience.

We tend to think of Lent as a period of abstinence, fasting and giving up, but actually the opposite is true. If you do Lent right, you can actually gain a lot more…

Lent and everything that goes with (prayer, fasting, etc.) is basically for people who want to move forward. If you have anything pending, like a court case, a health concern, an illness in the family, a loved one who is struggling with an addiction, a strained marriage, or an increment that is overdue, then Lent is the perfect season for you.

There is so much to be said about this subject, but let me keep it simple. The way I see it fasting is for people who want things FAST. And there are some things in life I want more badly than food. But if we only abstain from food and don’t mix that sacrifice with prayer then we are not really fasting — we are dieting. And the only thing you can expect from a diet is to lose weight.

But fasting is not just about losing weight…it’s so much more. Through fasting, I’ve gained wisdom, revelation, insight, I’ve had all of my prayers answered, my kids are thriving, my wife is happier, my health is better than it has ever been (and that includes my mental, emotional and spiritual health).

Yes – I did lose some weight too and in all the right places. The little tuck I’ve gained around the middle makes me look younger and I actually feel very youthful. Through fasting, I’ve also gained more tolerance, patience, perseverance, discernment. I am more relaxed, more calm, I am smiling more…you get the picture, right?

I admit: fasting is not easy. The hardest part about fasting is getting started. Sometimes, the hunger really gets to you. And people usually try to offset it by eating something heavy just before starting the fast. In my opinion, that’s self-deception. The whole purpose of fasting is that you must feel hungry. It’s a sacrifice, right? It must make you uncomfortable and want to eat badly. And in that state, when you get down on your knees and pray, you begin to move mountains.

The irony is that once I got past the initial discomfort and started reaping the benefits of fasting, I wanted to fast more. And the thing with fasting is that the more you fast, the easier it gets.

The Bible presents fasting as something that is beneficial for everyone. If you asked me, as a friend, I would strongly recommend it too. And you don’t have to wait until Lent to get started, although that’s the best period. Why Lent? Look at this way. If you want the bank to sanction a loan, you’ll go during business hours, right? You won’t go at midnight when the bank is closed. Similarly, it makes sense to approach the Throne of Mercy in the hour of mercy. It’s as simple as that.

People often misunderstand what abstinence is all about. We can always have a feast and we rarely miss an opportunity to eat. In fact, most of us eat way too much most of the time and that’s not very good either. But that’s not what fasting is about. God does not derive any sadistic pleasure from our hunger. Fasting is less about what we’re giving up and more about what we’re making room for. When we fast, we exchange what we need to SURVIVE with what we need to LIVE. Fasting frees the body and mind from the things holding us down and helps us hear God more clearly.

If you are past the age of 30, you already know by now that life has this propensity to throw all kinds of curve balls. You’ll be challenged in your job, your marriage, your health, your finances, etc. And every once in a while you will want something so badly that you would be willing to give up anything for it. Even food. That’s what Lent is really about. It’s for us and our benefit. When we fast and pray we are essentially telling God, “I need You. I can’t see where my life is headed from down here. I don’t know what’s coming down the road, but You have a better view from up there. You can see the big picture. Please take care of this for me. I trust You.

I don’t know about you, but I try to take my life one day at a time. I look at what’s happening in my life. I look at my marriage, my kids, my home. I look at what’s happening around me and in the world and then I decide what I need to do. Some days I am FEASTING and some days, especially around this time, I am FASTING.

What about you?

You have 325 days in the year to eat what you want, when you want and how much you want. But you only have 40 days of Lent to fast and pray. And this is the final week. If you are not maximizing what this period is all about, you are really missing out.

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God, the Devil, and Adenoids

One of the biggest crisis I faced as a father is watching my 3-year-old suffer from an illness that neither the doctors nor I could explain. Every night, I watched my otherwise happy-go-lucky and playful child toss and turn in his bed and then inexplicably start coughing and coughing till neither he nor we could sleep. The countless sleepless nights took a toll on my son’s health and my sanity.

We visited more doctors then I can remember. All of them said the same thing: “Your son is fine, but he suffering from an allergy that apparently only flares up at night.” But none of them could tell me what he was allergic to. One doctor said this, the other doctor said that. Homeopathy, Allopathy – we tried it all. Nothing worked.

My son’s illness strained my marriage too. I would come home from work at the end of the day and sit down for dinner with my wife, talking about all the things that couples talk about. But then suddenly my son would have one of his coughing bouts and all romance would fly off the window. It’s hard to be romantic or anything else when your child is sick.

In my desperate search for the mystery allergen, I started de-cluttering the house – I changed the upholstery, rugs, carpets… We changed food brands and tried new diets every week. I lost countless hours chasing appointments in different hospitals around the city. I spent thousands on medicines. I considered everything there was to consider. I even considered changing my house.

I also struggled with God. And I waged warfare on the devil. I prayed and prayed and fasted and prayed some more, searching for an answer. Exasperated, one day, I sat in my car and let out a loud scream and then cried all the way back from work. When I got back home around midnight, I pulled out my Bible, sat next to my son, who was fast asleep and read the Book of Psalms out aloud until morning. After months – no years – of praying and fasting, I finally got my breakthrough. The answer was one word – ADENOIDS.

Adenoids are lymph tissues that sit in the upper airway between the nose and the back of the throat. They are similar to tonsils and help the body prevent or fight infections by trapping bacteria and germs. However, prolonged allergies and infections can cause the adenoids themselves to become swollen. Enlarged and inflamed adenoids can make breathing difficult, disrupt sleep and lead to recurring respiratory infections.

Turns out, this is a fairly common problem, especially among preschool kids. The remedy is to either treat the adenoids through medication or, as a last resort, have them taken out surgically. Sometimes, tonsils and adenoids are removed at the same time. I discovered that both of these are common surgeries for kids to have.

Once I found out what the problem was, I spent all my free time researching about adenoids. I obviously didn’t want my son to have his adenoids taken out through surgery, which is what most exasperated parents do. To me, that’s like taking out the engine alarm light in your car when it warns you that the engine is overheating. The alarm light is NOT the problem; it only tells you there is a problem, and taking it out won’t cool the engine. By that same token, if an allergy is causing your child’s adenoids to swell, you should not rush to have the adenoids or tonsils taken out. The adenoids are NOT the problem; they only indicate that there is problem — in my son’s case, an allergy.

Anyways, after lots of praying, fasting and reading, I finally discovered that my son was allergic to dairy products. Kids allergic to milk?! Who would have thought! But that’s what it was. In fact, nearly 70-80% of childhood allergies are in some way or the other related to food. Why is that so? I don’t know, but I am guessing it is all about balance. When you have too much of one thing in your diet, the balance is broken and the body’s alarm signals go off. If you ignore the signals, you could end up with major diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, heart ailments, stroke, cancer, etc. So, it’s best to maintain a balance in everything, especially your diet.

I thank God for bringing me through the biggest crisis I faced as a father. I also learned an important lesson: Prayer is our best line of defense, but you cannot always pray everything away. You need spiritual answers for spiritual issues and natural solutions for natural problems. For instance, you may be a praying man, but if your house was burning, you would do better to get a bucket of water first instead of sitting down and praying about it. Prayer does, however, open the eyes of our understanding and allows for God to point us in the right direction. That’s why we must never stop praying.

Screenshot_2016-05-04-20-27-33So, does this mean that sometimes even God is powerless to help? Of course, Not! On the contrary, He can do far beyond our wildest imagination. I have personally benefited from divine healing and protection on countless occasions. I was suffering from sinusitis and a dislocated shoulder for years. I was healed of both by simply entering a place of worship — I had not even begun to pray; i just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Um, if God can heal people just like that, why did He not heal your son? Good question. Look at it this way. If a smoker contracts lung cancer and God healed him, what would be the incentive for this man to stop smoking. Chances are he would contract the same disease again. Sometimes, God does not heal people right away because He wants them to wake up to what’s killing them. If God had healed my son right away, chances are I would continue giving him the same things that caused his adenoids to swell.

Anyways, to cut the long story short, we sleep well now. My son’s health is the best it has been in years. Most importantly, he did not lose any body parts. In my opinion, surgery is the prerogative of the busy and the rich. My heart grieves for children whose are parents are so busy that they completely miss all the red signals till it is too late. Oftentimes, these kids suffer from minor medical issues, but have to undergo major surgeries just because their parents were too busy to sit down, think and pray about what needed to be done.

This post is a shout-out to all parents considering a tonsillectomy or an adenoidectomy. Before you put your child under the surgical knife, I suggest you take a closer look at what your kid is eating. Try cutting out dairy products from his diet for about three weeks. Also, cut out processed and junk food, especially spicy and fried foods. We tried it and it’s worked wonders for us.

Last but not the least: Don’t forget to pray.