Spiritual Fasting

In our society today, the have-more mentality has been deeply instilled in our minds. We work and work as if we’re always running out of time and feel guilty when staying still— unable to appreciate a moment.

But we never know that our complete attention to the materialistic aspect of life makes us neglect our soul. The more we listen to our body’s call, the deeper we bury the voice of our soul.

The practice of fasting reminds us that living is not all about having more. It is a reminder that it is not just tangible things that keep us alive but the things of the spirit as well.

What is Spiritual Fasting?

According to evangelist Joshua, from Bible and Prayers, fasting is the practice of abstaining from food, water, or pleasures of the flesh to purify and devote oneself to God and form a stronger connection with Him.

Throughout history, fasting has been an integral part of different religions as it separates man’s spiritual and physical needs. It satiates our spiritual hunger and enriches our souls without relying solely on our strength.

With prayer, fasting becomes a powerful tool to build resilience against this sinful world. We become powerful by drawing strength from God through our prayers.

The Benefits of Spiritual Fasting

The North East Islamic Community Center states that fasting is not just about not eating or drinking. It is about reflecting on past deeds.

When the body takes control of your will, you only live to fulfill the calling of the mundane and fail to recognize your true purpose.

Fasting helps you comprehend the dark nature of certain actions to avoid them. It also prevents the body from dominating your existence, making you succumb to carnal desires.

1. Fasting helps you build deeper connections.

Maria Walley from Grotto expounds that fasting is a great way to form stronger connections with God and the people around you.

By refusing yourself of worldly desires, you bring yourself near to God and embrace the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. Your small sacrifices help you understand Jesus Christ’s sufferings to pay for humanity’s sins.

Aside from this, fasting helps you cultivate love and empathy in your heart. You become aware of your weaknesses and better understand others’ shortcomings.

2. Fasting brings clarity to your soul.

The ultimate goal of fasting is to purify the soul. By fasting, you break free from worldly shackles and allow your spirit to take power over your being.

This is because when you give authority to your soul, you gain clarity over the negative baggage that weighs you down and gain insight into your life.

You become aware of your higher purpose and protect yourself from being led astray by the mundane.

3. Fasting helps you defy temptations. 

Temptation leads to evil. It is the tool of the enemy to defy God’s will and separate us from Him. Often, the pleasures of the flesh lead us to temptation.

However, when you fast,  you distance yourself from the pleasures of the flesh. You refuse the call of the carnal soul and focus on acknowledging God’s presence.

You may not immediately notice it, but your little actions of controlling yourself prevent you from acting upon your body’s needs on a whim, which opens time for self-reflection.

4. Fasting frees you from carnal desires.

According to the North East Islamic Community Center, we must learn how to forbear the endless appetites of the carnal soul, as its habits and desires are a deadly venom that degrades the self.

The carnal soul constantly encourages humans to commit sins. It is never satisfying. The more you feed it, the bigger its appetite becomes.

But through the power of fasting, you learn how to silence your carnal soul and prevent making it your lord.

5. Fasting brings you healing.

It’s not just the soul that fasting heals; it also heals the body. Steiner Health explained that fasting elicits self-healing and self-repairing. It revitalizes good digestion and elimination and boosts peristaltic movement.

They also added that fasting allows the body to use the saved-up energy (for digestion) for other functions.

Fasting helps us restore our immune system and metabolic process to their optimum state. This is because when we fast, the body cleanses dead cells, fatty deposits, damaged tissues, and abscesses by eliminating them as body wastes.

6. Fasting strengthens your resolve.

As described earlier, fasting prevents us from giving in to temptations. Maria Walley explained that combining fasting and prayer can help remove distractions and form resilience.

Just as St. Basil the Great said,

“Fasting repels temptations. In war, it fights bravely. In peace, it teaches stillness.”

St. Basil the Great

Fasting is composed of small sacrifices that strengthen your resolve against temptations. It also helps you become level-headed in times of crisis and self-doubt.

7. Fasting makes you more humble.

With humanity’s technological achievements today, being proud of our accomplishments is inevitable. There are times we feel so powerful with our intellect and forget to thank the one who gave it to us; God.

That’s why there’s fasting to remind us of our roots. Maria Walley believes fasting grounds us and reminds us of our human limitations. We are reminded that despite our achievements, we are still humans who need and depend on God’s love.

She emphasized that fasting is humbling ourselves to connect more with God. It is not a competition or proof of one’s faith and should not be boasted about.

In her article, Deborah Warrie shared two types of fastings in her article: Purifying Fast and Wicked Fast.

The wicked fast is the one that displeases God, depicted in Isaiah 58:3-5 GNBUK.

“The people ask, “Why should we fast if the Lord never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?” 

Isaiah 58:3-5 GNBUK

The Lord says to them,

“The truth is that at the same time as you fast, you pursue your interests and oppress your workers. Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. 

Do you think this fasting will make me listen to your prayers? When you fast, you make yourselves suffer; you bow your heads low like a blade of grass and spread out sackcloth and ashes to lie on. Is that what you call fasting? Would I be pleased with that?

Isaiah 58:3-5 GNBUK: Good News Bible (Anglicised) 1994

Deborah Warrie explained that this type of fast displeases God because the one who’s fasting forgets the real essence of the practice. Instead of love and surrender, they had bitterness, deceit, and arrogance in their hearts.

They intend to show everyone that their fasting, and from that, aim to receive praise and admiration from others. 

They taunt those who they believe are not following spiritual practices as themselves and use fasting as an excuse to belittle their fellow.

On the other hand, the purifying fast pleases God, as shown in Isaiah 58:6-7 GNBUK.

“The kind of fasting I want is this: remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice and let the oppressed go free. 

Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your relatives.

Isaiah 58:6-7 GNBUK: Good News Bible (Anglicised) 1994

The purifying fast embodies the real essence of fasting according to God’s will. It means letting go of worldly pleasures and sacrificing while being a ray of hope for others.

8. Fasting makes you disciplined.

Even for a short period of time, it takes great self-control to let go of your worldly attachments. Worldly attachments give us comfort, and too much comfort brings stagnation to the soul.

However, fasting instills a sense of discipline in you. This is because when we fast, we give up the body’s most important necessities: water and food, as Stuart Chase from the Brackenhurst Baptist Church, explained.

We do this to devote ourselves to something greater and more needed, which is God.

In Matthew 4:1-11 NIV, Jesus was tempted by the devil during his fast. He was thirsty and hungry for forty days, and the devil encouraged him to ask God to turn the stones into bread.

However, instead of giving in to the devil’s temptations, Jesus answered, 

It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Matthew 4:1-11 NIV)

By suppressing our urges to give in to the call of the flesh, we prevent giving in to temptation and succumbing to the devil’s trap.

9. Fasting helps you appreciate the blessings you receive.

We often neglect and fail to appreciate the things that are always there. Just because they are always within sight and reach, we forget to appreciate every little aspect of our life.

Similar to how we treat food and water. When we have plenty of them, wasting is never a problem. However, when we experience scarcity, every drop and crumb is important.

When you fast, you’ll understand how blessed you are in the midst of your thirst and hunger. You’ll be aware that the things you consider as waste are treasures to others.

And most importantly, you’ll see how valuable your life is and that you owe it to the creator and, thus, should treasure it.

10. Fasting teaches you to be economical.

In Islam, there is a concept called, Iktisad. Iktisad is similar to frugality, which means using only the necessary resources (no more and no less), as defined by Heather Fagan in her study.

Muslims see frugality as a form of showing appreciation and gratitude for the blessings of Allah. At the same time, they see extravagance as exploiting Allah’s gifts.

The North East Islamic Community Center explained that fasting is one of the best ways to instill frugality in us.

It is an integral part of Ramadan, which also serves as a mentor who teaches people how to be economical.

According to them, fasting teaches people who are used to buying things without thoroughly pondering upon them, which often leads to wastage. 

They see the importance of their blessings as they have to wait for the sunset to arrive before they can eat or have a drink.

Fasting brings bliss greater than the joy obtained from overeating. This bliss is rooted in relief after the weariness and lessons learned from our communion with God.

11. Fasting makes your mind livelier.

In these modern times, you might be leading a hectic life. You might not always get the opportunity to devote yourself to God or reflect upon your life.

Fasting is a great opportunity to stop for a moment and reserve quality time exclusively for reflecting and praying.

While you communicate with God, savor the chance to reflect on every aspect of your life or ponder your current emotions. Reminisce about your defeats and triumphs, your joy and sorrow, and your pain and comfort.

Let the sacredness of the moment bring you closer to the Lord. Thank Him for never letting go of your hand, and ask Him never to let go of you, no matter what. 

12. Fasting instills contentment.

The carnal soul always whispers that we should obtain more. It is never satisfied and will not stop tempting you until you’re driven to your destruction.

However, fasting silences the carnal soul. It clears your mind of its negative conditioning and helps you see the truth in its different faces.

You see, it is often your discontentment that makes you unhappy. Your body and carnal soul make you believe that living in fulfillment can only be achieved by satisfying your materialistic desires.

But this is not true, as there is something more that the world can offer. It is finding the voice of your soul and allowing it to lead you to your fate.

Wrapping It Up!

Fasting is the practice of abstaining from food, water, or pleasures of the flesh to purify and devote oneself to God and form a stronger connection with Him. 

It reminds us that it’s not just tangible things that keep us alive but the things of the spirit as well.

Fasting feeds and enriches the spirit, which is often deprived of sustenance because of our constant attention to the call of the carnal soul. It is a humbling process that reminds us of our human frailties and deep need for God’s love.

Aside from its physical benefits, fasting is an important tool to strengthen our spirit and resolve in this seemingly chaotic world.

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