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Prayer and Fasting for a Better Life

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- | 80 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Life & Inspiration

a woman believing in prayer and fasting for a better life
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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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80 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Ahsan

    July 21, 2012 at 9:39 am

    To live better life prayer & fasting are important. When we wake up in morning and say our regular prayer, we feel fresh and happy. But without prayer we feel the day’s dull and boring. Again, fasting makes you think about how the poor people are suffering from hunger. It helps to develop patience and perpetual feelings for Allah.

    Neatly & elaborately written 🙂

    • Harleena Singh

      July 21, 2012 at 9:56 am

      Glad you could relate to the post Ahsan!

      Prayer and fasting are indeed required to lead a better life. They make you feel good about yourself and life as such. Yes indeed, morning prayers rejuvenate us and help start our day in a positive manner, while fasting as you rightly mentioned, does make us value food much more and think about the poor who don’t get food to eat. Of course, fasting has it’s other benefits too, but it does have it’s spiritual meaning that connects us with the Almighty and teaches us a lot of other things too.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  2. Betsy Cross

    May 11, 2012 at 12:14 am

    I fast at least once a month. Not fasting is like having a day without music…everything’s well and good until I turn on the radio and everything about me thrives. That’s what fasting feels like to my life.
    Thanks Harleena!

    • Harleena Singh

      May 11, 2012 at 10:18 am

      Glad you could relate to the post Betsy!

      Nice to know that you do fast once a month, something that I have to start doing really soon now. I guess you really do enjoy your fast. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  3. farouk

    March 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Harleena,

    Your posts are always positive and uplifting- it feels good to read them.

    Keep it up 🙂

    • Harleena Singh

      March 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      Glad to hear that Farouk!

      It gives me immense happiness to know that my posts have an uplifting and positive affect. It almost seems like the efforts put into running the blog are fulfilled.

      Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words. 🙂

  4. Rani

    March 27, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I am here with my real name, its my pleasure to get welcomed from your side.

    I want to add some thing more useful for physical benefits as well. Fasting produces physiological change in the body, gives rest to different organs and improves adaptability, it lowers the blood cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. It produces peace and tranquility in the mind. It is an institution in learning self-restraint as those who have a habit of nibbling food, drinking a lot of coffee and smoking, will have to give up as all that during a Muslim the month of fasting.

    • Harleena Singh

      March 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      That sounds much better Rani!

      Yes indeed, those are wonderful benefits of fasting, which are coming up in the next post- so remain tuned to learn much more about fasting. While fasting does have all these benefits that you have mentioned, it surely is an important part of the Muslim religion- especially followed during the month of Ramadan. But I feel so are prayer important- aren’t they?

      Thanks 🙂

  5. apkichat.com

    March 26, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    I strongly believe in prayer and fasting.The purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world, and instead focus on God.Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to yourself, that you are serious about your relationship with Him.

    • Harleena Singh

      March 26, 2012 at 11:57 pm

      Welcome to the blog Rani (though I wish you would use your real name instead of the blogs name next time)!

      Glad you believe in prayer and fasting, and yes the purpose of prayer and fasting should be connect with Him. However, not everyone believes that fasting is needed to connect with God, though prayers sure are required.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. Ajnabii

    March 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks for your warm welcome!

    I’m waiting for your next post and if you have need any other information about fasting benefits just let me know because this is really an interesting and informative topic for people who don’t know yet about it. Retweeted this post 🙂

    Thanks for replying by.

    • Harleena Singh

      March 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      The very next post on the blog would be about the benefits of fasting, and hopefully it would help a few people who are thinking about fasting or want to practice it, as it will contain all that you need to know about the topic!

      Thanks for the re-tweet as well 🙂

      • Ajnabii

        March 27, 2012 at 12:05 am

        You are welcome Harleena!

        I hope so it would help us to understand well.

        • Harleena Singh

          March 27, 2012 at 12:10 am

          I am sure you would find value in the forthcoming post. Keep a look out for it.

          Thanks. 🙂

  7. Ajnabii

    March 25, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Hi Harleena, Great post.

    I do believe in prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. Prayer and fasting often go hand in hand, but this is not always the case. You can pray without fasting, and fast without prayer. It is when these two activities are combined and dedicated to God’s glory that they reach their full effectiveness. Having a dedicated time of prayer and fasting is not a way of manipulating God into doing what you desire. Rather, it is simply forcing yourself to focus and rely on God for the strength, provision, and wisdom you need.

    The benefits of fasting must be preceded by a look at the body’s progression when deprived of food. Due to the lack of incoming energy, the body must turn to its own resources, a function called autolysis. (2) Autolysis is the breaking down of fat stores in the body in order to produce energy. The liver is in charge of converting the fats into a chemical called a ketone body, “the metabolic substances acetoacetic acid and beta-hydroxybutyric acid” (3), and then distributing these bodies throughout the body via the blood stream. “When this fat utilization occurs, free fatty acids are released into the blood stream and are used by the liver for energy.” (3) The less one eats, the more the body turns to these stored fats and creates these ketone bodies, the accumulation of which is referred to as ketosis. (4)

    • Harleena Singh

      March 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      Welcome to the blog Ajnabii!

      Glad to know that you do strongly believe in prayer and fasting, and it is indeed beneficial for those who do! Yes indeed, you can pray without fasting and fast without prayer, though I have yet to practice fasting for it’s spiritual benefits. I have however tried fasting for a day or so, though not longer and do marvel at those people who manage to fast for so many days altogether.

      I have read all about the scientific benefits of fasting as you mentioned in your second paragraph while researching, especially about autolysis and ketones, and this would be soon following up in the next post connected with the benefits of fasting (just as I mentioned at the end of the post). However, thanks for sharing the information about the same.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂




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Prayer and Fasting for a Better Life

by Harleena Singh time to read: 9 min