Fasting is a very common practice in all religions. When you combine fasting with prayer, it is a more disciplined approach towards attaining a sinful life. What is fasting? Fasting is the complete abstinence from food and sometimes water. Fasting along with prayer is more of a spiritual fasting which helps us to connect with God and brings us closer to him.
It’s a common belief amongst many that fasting is a difficult process. But in reality, it is indeed a simple and an extremely powerful act which can be practiced by all. Fasting can be for a short period or can be for long durations and both have their benefits.
In many religious scriptures fasting has been mentioned as a common practice. Fasting along with prayer is a humble surrender to god. Fasting is a voluntary and an individual commitment and through prayer you devote yourself to god. As per ancient scriptures, fasting and prayer is a natural process to express your belief. The body and the mind is in sync with each other and therefore it becomes a natural process to respond to a sacred calling. Your hunger for seeking God can be fulfilled when you fast along with prayer.
Fasting is one of the scared ways to reconnect with God. Prayer along with fasting has great benefits and the same is illustrated below.
Benefits of Fasting and Prayer:
1. Deeper Intimacy with God
It is said that fasting and prayer will definitely deepen our understanding of God. If both fasting and prayer are done together the benefits are doubled. We are, in a way willingly giving up on our food in order to spend some more time with Him. It is natural that this process will bring us closer to Him.
It is also worth mentioning that fasting and prayer is not a modern concept. This is mentioned in all religious texts of very cultures. Praying on an empty stomach is considered the highest penance.
Many people believe that God listens to people who forego what they hold important and focus on Him instead. Of course God listens to all manner of prayers with or without fasting. But if there is a possibility of attaining a more focused devotion towards the lord then why not.
2. Gain wisdom and a deeper appreciation for Nature
When you pray fervently without any distractions you attain a sense of calm. The clarity attained through sustained meditation without worrying about the body is second to none.
Buddhist monks have been known to meditate for extremely long periods of times without any food or drink. They achieve this through single-mindedly concentration on God and his teachings. There are references to fasting and praying in the Bible as well as in other religions.
Such a clarity of mind results in wisdom. Also, food is something provided by nature and sometimes we take it for granted. It is only when you abstain from food do you realize its value.
3. Be at peace with yourself
Fasting and prayer can bring you a deeper understanding and acknowledge of how much we value worldly pleasures. These pleasures also stoke our egos. In the Islamic faith, fasting is the time to abandon ego and inculcate self-restraint. It is also a reminder of one’s fortune in being able to eat whatever and whenever we want. By fasting we are sharing the pain the the suffering of the millions in this world who don’t have food and water.
Unlike Islam, fasting is not mandatory in Hinduism. It is more a spiritual practice to purify the mind and achieve God’s grace.
4. Consider it an act of purifying the body
Some people eat without any consideration to the effect it has on the body. It is natural that down the line they would need to something about it. By fasting you are actually allowing the toxins in the body to disperse. It serves as a way to detox the body and also helps in revitalizing the body and the spirit. After fasting many people feel a sense of new satisfaction. While your mind and body is endowed with renewed and positive energy you will find that the absence of food was indeed a small act. Physical food can only last you for few hours. You will feel hungry after sometime and the cycle is never ending. But when you feed your soul with good deeds and good acts that’s when a real satisfaction and purification of the mind and body happens.
5. Opening our hearts to receive God’s voice
Distractions are what prevents us from hearing God’s voice. When we fast we remove some of those distractions. Without these distractions we can completely and unequivocally give ourselves up to God. Especially when we are unable to make certain decisions fasting gives us the required clarity. In this state, we won’t be bound by the desires of the flesh.
6. Fasting and prayer can create miracles
One of the benefits of fasting and prayer is that it creates miracles. When we fast our body, mind and spirit is under God’s authority. When we pray, the spirit of God becomes so powerful that there is no space for outward chaos or distractions. It’s a moment where all the chaos is transformed into peace and solace. The earth meets heaven and a beautiful moment and miracle is created. But we should keep in mind that our fast is to attain rewards that are heavenly and not earthly. God will bless us if our fasting and prayer is done with the utmost sincerity.
7. Fasting and prayer helps you develop humility
Abstaining yourself from food is an act of humility. When you pray and fast you are completely devoting yourself to God. God then listens to your prayers and this act of humbleness helps you come closer to God and feel his presence. It becomes easier to obey God and be more sensitive towards God’s voice. The benefit of fasting and prayer is that it helps us achieve humility and trains us to hear God’s voice more clearly.
8. Fasting and prayer reminds you how much you need God
When you give up food and concentrate on praying before God, you are laying your complete trust on God. Our body needs food to survive, when you give up on food you are depriving your body an essential need. But when you fast and pray before you have the inherent belief in God to fill your spirit and soul with his nourishment. It is at this moment you realize how much you need and desire the Supreme power.
Now that we have spoken about the benefits of fasting and prayers here are some do’s and dont’s. Some tips that will help you incorporate fasting and prayer in your spiritual life.
What not to Do while fasting and prayer:
Don’t just fast without a desire. You should hear “God’s calling” before you actually decide to fast. Through your prayers God will provide you with the signal whether he wants you to fats or not.
Don’t fast if you have any medical conditions which can deteriorate your health and cause harm to your body. Fasting should not be forced, else it will become an impossible task and will feel more burdened.
Don’t expect that fasting and prayer will give you immediate results. It is not a give and take deal. It requires immense patience , desire and a strong will to accomplish successfully an act of fasting and prayer. You may not always have an immediate answer to all your prayers.
Don’t make fasting an event and publicize this act of yours. Fasting is your personal time with God. Respect that alone time and intimacy and completely focus on hearing his voice.
What to Do while fasting and prayer:
If you are beginner then you should fast for shorter durations or days. Start small. Fast only for a single day where you miss some meals of that day only. Then slowly work towards fasting for longer durations and longer days if that’s were your calling lies.
Keep your body hydrated always. Fasting is not easy and you should not torture your body of the basic needs. And if you feel dehydrated then you will not be able to concentrate on your prayers.
Use your fasting time well. This your opportunity to build intimacy and a personal relation with God. So keep aside all your worldly worries and the outside chaos and instead train your mind to focus only on God. The benefits of prayer and fasting are staggering and will help you to achieve innumerable positive results. But whether a small or a big act, it should be done with utmost sincerity and dedication. If you have doubt in your mind you can never accomplish the task. Don’t think about the results, God will answer to your prayers when the right time will come. Hope this article will give you the power and strength to fast and prayer to seek ultimate peace.