Prayer and Fasting for a Better Life
Let me begin by asking if you really believe in prayer and fasting? Did you know that you can achieve better health and a better life through prayer and fasting?
In today’s world and lifestyle, we rarely find time to think about ourselves, leave alone for prayer and fasting.
To be very honest, though I do believe in the powers of prayers, I never really knew much about fasting and its benefits for better health until I experienced it.
As I do know a lot of people and family members who are into prayer and fasting, I decided to study more about its concepts and the benefits for better health and a better life.
Whatever I discovered was revealing and beneficial to me, and with the aim of helping everyone I penned down my thoughts in the form of this post.
What is a Better Life About?
If you are satisfied with your present life, the need for a better life might not be there. Further, it is in fact, all about your outlook and attitude about life.
If life for you is more than just increasing its standard and accumulation of more wealth and property, and if you wish to improve and better your inner self and increase inner strength, then I’m sure you’d be interested in this post.
“Life is better because you know more, not just because you have more.” – Anonymous
A better life is all about satisfaction, happiness, and peace – the inner qualities. If you’ve everything else but none of these, you suffer. If you’re content and healthy, then you’ve these magical elements that better your life and lead you to prosperity.
Prayer and fasting help develop the qualities that keep you content, focused, and healthy by integrating and enhancing the body, mind, and spirit to lead a better life.
Understanding Prayer and Fasting
I understand that there are people who do not believe in prayer and fasting, and there must be some who have never been taught about the importance of prayer and fasting.
If you’re an atheist, fasting might sound like drudgery or a form of religious works to you!
However, what I intend to convey are the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits of prayer and fasting for those who do believe.
“Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them, an act of discipline.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
I personally relate prayer and fasting more with spirituality, and I believe spirituality is devoid of any religious color, as it is all about the process of self-discipline, actualizing, and realizing ourselves.
What is Prayer and Fasting?
Prayer and fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food so that you can focus on prayer and companionship with the Lord, or you might refer to Him using other words like God, the divine, and the Supreme.
For me, God is a singular and universal entity, which is referred to differently in various religions and beliefs.
To comprehend the whole, we need to define its parts – so here’s a brief description of the components of prayer and fasting.
What is Prayer?
Our communication with God is what I call prayer, and for me that can be in any language and any time of the day. For those who don’t really believe in God, they can consider praying as connecting to their soul or inner-self.
What matters most is the attitude with which you pray, and you should not use it as an opportunity to draw attention to yourself. Instead you pray for His glory and the benefit of others.
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” ~ Mother Teresa
You could try by planning a time everyday for prayers, involve everyone if possible, be consistent, creative, and adaptable and flexible to change if required. A better life is always purposeful and positive, and a prayer is just the tool to achieve that.
All that matters is that you pray always with awareness, and a clean-clear heart.
What is Fasting?
A fast is a cure, a remedy, and mainly a therapeutic action. It refers to total abstinence from all food, whether it’s for 1 day, 10 days, or 40 days.
For the believers, fasting is a way to conquer the physical and open the door to the supernatural in their life; as when you deny your body, you feed your spirit and grow closer to God.
For atheists and others, fasting could be interpreted as the strengthening of will and taming of their mind and desires.
It’s also a great opportunity to learn how to face challenges, overcome mistakes, utilize inner resources, and indulge soul-searching to achieve a better life.
“If thou wouldst preserve a sound body, use fasting and walking; if a healthful soul, fasting and praying. Walking exercises the body; praying exercises the soul. Fasting cleanses both.” ~ Francis Quarles
Fasting is mainly done for our personal growth, to grow deeper in God, to grow stronger, to grow wider in influence, grow higher in stature, to achieve wellness, better health, and for a better life.
There are multiple physical and medical benefits that are achieved by fasting alone, though the results are intensified with simultaneous application of prayers.
Some people find fasting difficult and are in awe of those who fast for several weeks. Similarly, I too wonder at times that if I had to fast for so many days, how I would survive!
I totally resonate with the explanation that fasting is the precious time that you can give to your internal organs to breathe out, relax, have a break, recharge, and restore itself for better health.
Logically speaking, one of the advantages of fasting for everyone is that the absence from the kitchen or food gives them more time for uplifting the soul with prayers, and for leading a better life filled with happiness, contentment, and peace.
“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.” ~ Andrew Murray
Prayer and fasting are required to bring about a successful spiritual life, as it brings you closer to God by increasing your faith.
People do pray without fasting, but shouldn’t fast without praying. During the season of prayer and fasting, you tend to seek God or the ultimate peace and happiness by asking for forgiveness for your sins and the sins of your land.
There are many reasons why people believe in prayer and fasting. Apart from acquiring a better life, most believe it works to seek better health, a better job, self-development, and even financial blessings to name a few.
Prayer and Fasting in Religions
Most of the world’s religions incorporate fasting as one of their practices, and while some fast in observation of their faiths alone, others fast due to its health benefits.
An ancient tradition carried forward by Christians who want to elevate their relationship with the Almighty and clarify their thoughts is fasting during Lent. It’s said to be the perfect time for prayers and fasting, and lays the foundation for a better life.
For many people, fasting during Lent (which is the 6-week period between Ash Wednesday and Easter) means eating one full meal and refraining from food for the rest of the day. Such fasts raise your sense of awareness and produce hunger, which makes you stop and think about your inner-self.
Just as Lent is for Christians, similar practices are followed in other religions, like Ramadan in Muslims, Yom Kippur in Jews, Navratri and other days in Hindus, Paryushan in Jains, Buddhists and others.
Prayer and fasting plays a major role in every religion on earth, thus Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, and Elijah- all followed this practice to purify their bodies and minds.
Even the great ancient Greek philosophers and scientists like Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and Hippocrates advocated abstaining from food and used fasting therapeutically.
Nearly every religious text, from the Quran and the Upanishads to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, calls upon people to fast occasionally as a rite of penitence, spiritual purification, or preparation for a union with God.
Benefits of Prayer and Fasting Lead to a Better Life
Prayer and fasting are one of the most powerful spiritual combinations. Though your main aim is to seek mercy and closeness of God, you are automatically benefitted by many qualities that emerge when you churn your body, mind, and soul with fasting and prayer.
1- It gives you control over your mind and body
Prayer kills unbelief, while fasting tames the body and mind. Together they facilitate the journey to the depths of our consciousness supposedly to make us better human beings and help us lead a better life.
Indulging in prayer while fasting adds more meaning to the spiritual power yielded through fasting alone, and the total control achieved gives us the much needed happiness, inner strength and power to lead a better life.
2- It leads you to peace and beauty within
Prayer and fasting also deliver a sense of deeper closeness to God. It’s the perfect time to feel sorry and seek forgiveness for the things we’ve done wrong, to resolve our regrets and guilt, and clear up mental and emotional blockages.
As a result you start feeling more at peace with yourself, find the happiness you seek, gain the required strength, and begin experiencing the goodness in the real you.
3- It is an effective treatment for emotional and psychological disorders
Most people feel a sense of letting go of the pain from their past, are able to cope with stress, and develop a positive attitude towards the present.
The release of such negative energy from acceptance and forgiveness fills you with happiness, and takes you closer to the envisioned better life.
4- It purifies the self
Fasting helps you to be self-disciplined, while prayers align your thoughts, feelings and attitude with the ideals necessary to lead a better life.
You are able to understand the irrationality about your bad habits and are able to do away with them. It makes you feel positive about yourself and others, and you try to do good with pure intentions that lead to sheer happiness.
5- It brings power to your thoughts and actions
Prayer brings coherence to your thoughts and fasting teaches you to be determined, which helps you lead a better life.
You develop an ability to discern and increase your awareness of Godliness around you. You work towards achieving good things in life with more vigor and determination, and adopt an unwavering approach to life’s difficult moments and situations.
All this gives you the much needed happiness and strength and leads you towards a better life.
6- It teaches you humility and resolves your problems
You come to realize your limits, helplessness, and finiteness. It reinforces your belief in a greater self, a more powerful soul and the infinite being, God.
Your simplicity, contentment, and surrendering to the Almighty help you seek solutions that are otherwise blocked by your ego and false beliefs about yourself. This enables you to reach your happiness level and lead a better life.
“Fasting is the soul of prayer; mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So, if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy. If you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to other, you open God’s ear to yourself.” ~ Saint Peter Chrysologus
Prayer and fasting does not change God, it changes us. It enables us to accept change and adjust to life, and removes the hindrances to our path towards leading a better life.
Having a dedicated time for prayer and fasting is not a way of manipulating God into doing what you want, instead it’s forcing yourself to focus and rely on the Almighty for provision, strength, and the wisdom you need.
What is most important is to start and end your day with a time set away for deep personal devotion and prayer, as prayer and fasting must go together, otherwise it’s just a kind of hunger strike or dieting.
You are well acquainted and aware of the benefits of prayer, which I’ve expressed in my earlier post The Power of Prayers. What you need to know are the wonderful and powerful benefits of fasting that with or without prayers do us enormous good.
I will soon be writing another post on fasting, as there’s a lot to say about fasting and its health benefits, and I don’t want this post to become a yet another mammoth post!
“Prayer carries us half way to God, fasting brings us to the door of His palace, and alms-giving procures us admission.” ~ Quran quotes.
Over to you-
How do you relate to prayer and fasting? Do you believe it is essential for better health and a better life? Share your views in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Kenfotos