Prayer and Fasting for a Better Life
Table of Contents
- What is a Better Life About?
- Understanding Prayer and Fasting
- Benefits of Prayer and Fasting Lead to 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. And 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.
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 🙂
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. 🙂
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.
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. 🙂
Your posts are always positive and uplifting- it feels good to read them.
Keep it up 🙂
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. 🙂
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.
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?
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.
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
You are welcome Harleena!
I hope so it would help us to understand well.
I am sure you would find value in the forthcoming post. Keep a look out for it.
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)
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. 🙂
Thanks for this insightful post Harleena.
I do agree with you that fasting and prayer can go hand in hand very well. However, one should not expect to enter a higher state of consciousness just because one is fasting. It must serve as a tool and only those who are ready to well than be able to enter a higher state of consciousness.
Welcome to the blog Jarnaja!
I think you’ve rightly put across that fasting is just a tool which may or may not produce results, it all depends on the individual, and one cannot depend on it solely. However, I believe that fasting just helps one to learn to control the mind and the senses or learn to be independent and afar from the reaches of some desires, so as to reduce obstruction in concentration.
But there are mixed feelings and opinions about ritualistic fasting, and while respecting the personal views of all, I do feel that prayer, which could be in any form, does help to bring about a positive change in one’s conscious state.
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
I used to believe in god once upon a time but I lost faith. At times, I do pray but almost half heartedly. I am sure prayer is a good thing and can help but has not really helped me in anyway. I hope I can come back to it some day.
Welcome to the blog Shalu!
Perhaps you underwent some things in life that made you lose faith in God, and this happens to the best of people. I guess it may take you a while to get back to prayers, or some thing again may happen in your life that would once again turn you to start believing in Him- miracles are known to occur!
We really don’t know much about the power of prayers to be able to say anything much. But yes, I truly believe that being alive and healthy is because someone somewhere is praying for me. Likewise, you can never say who is praying for you and how those prayers are really helping you out.
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
I know that prayer and fasting should go hand in hand. But I can’t say the same for my case. I pray often but rarely do I engage in fasting. Despite that, I know I can communicate effectively with Him. I treat praying as my comfort zone where I get the peace of mind and the strength I needed.
Welcome to the blog Rai!
Sorry for the late reply as for some reason your comment was lying in the spam folder that I just saw, perhaps due to your first comment on the blog.
It’s not necessary that prayer and fasting go hand in hand, though nothing like it if they do! Just as in your case, I also pray but rarely do I fast, or perhaps I really don’t believe in it’s spiritual benefits as yet.
Yes indeed, prayers do give us the freedom to communicate our thoughts to Him and find peace, happiness, and the strength within.
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
That is a great look at prayer and fasting.
I am a Christian and do pray but will have to say that I have never fasted. I can see where it would be beneficial health wise.
I guess that I have never really felt the need to fast and don’t know if I would want to do it.
I did enjoy reading all of the benefits of it. There is no question that fasting would benefit us all physically and I am sure we could all benefit from it spiritually as well.
Dee Ann Rice
Glad you could relate to the post Dee Ann!
Most of us are in the same boat it seems, being are more into prayers than fasting 🙂
Yes indeed, for those who are not spiritually inclined towards fasting could try it for its health benefits. But just like, I too haven’t really tried it for more than a day or so- though do want to try it some day!
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
This post of yours depends on beliefs. Many of the religion of the world do practice fasting and this exercise gives them clear vision of life. From this practice they can understand how poor are living in their lives.
Welcome to the blog Azam!
If you observe, analyze, or introspect, you find that we all have certain beliefs – and our lives are based on them. Some adopt the beliefs of the organized religions while others develop their own beliefs. There are many whose ‘belief system’ does not incorporate fasting, while for some it is important.
You’ve highlighted two positive aspects of fasting – developing empathy with the poor and a vision of life. Having said that, these qualities can also be developed without practicing fasting.
Thanks for your valuable input and for stopping by. 🙂
Prayer and fasting are absolutely essential for a better life physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Daily connection is so important to the overall well-being. There have been times when my day got so busy that I didn’t pray, and I could tell the difference almost instantly. Fasting takes discipline but when it’s done and done, you come out of it with much more discipline in other areas in life. Thank you for sharing this information about both!
Glad you could resonate with the post Makeba!
You are absolutely right about prayer and fasting being essential for a better life and our overall well being. However, people often fail to understand the importance of prayer or fasting, even if fasting is practiced for health benefits.
You are not alone to get busy and often forget to pray, it happens with me too- though whenever I remember, I connect with the Almighty. Anytime is alright, as long as you pray- isn’t it?
Fasting does teach you discipline as well as gives you to bear a lot with the will power you develop.
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Wow, you’ve put a lot of research into this post and I appreciate it. Learned a lot about prayer and fasting. I haven’t gone a single day without prayer since early childhood. So yes, I absolutely believe in prayer.
Fasting on the other hand is another issue. I don’t know if I could go 10 days without food, let alone 40. I already have a hard enough time without eating for just one single day. I love food! It comforts my soul. I do admire those however who can go an extended period of time without food. It shows great character, strength and willpower.
Thank you so much for sharing this post, Harleena!
Glad you could relate to the post Ilka!
I wanted to learn more about fasting so looked around a great deal to understand more about it, which resulted in sharing the information with everyone. Nice to know that you believe so strongly in prayer, something that is similar in both of us I think. 🙂
Ah…fasting is something I haven’t really tried in it’s true sense, other than doing it for an odd day or so, or skipping one meal in a day- that too because I was too full!! I too wonder how people really manage to fast for 40 days at a stretch- I surely couldn’t be able to!
But just as Hajra mentioned above, those who do practice fasting get used it, and their body adapts to the change. More so, if its practiced in groups or with family and friends, you really don’t come to know of it. However, I think it’s easier said than done for us- isn’t it?
Thanks so much for stopping by and adding more value to the post. 🙂
Prayer and fasting are very helpful for eternal spiritual life. Because of this virtue our soul becomes strong and we become more powerful. Prayer and fasting are very helpful in character formation.
Welcome to the blog Maja!
Sorry for the late reply, as for some reason your comment was in the spam folder.
I agree with you that prayer and fasting help us become mentally, emotionally, and spiritually strong. We’re thus able to grow as better human beings and develop our character.
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your time with others, I appreciate your efforts. The issue of prayers and fasting cannot be over emphasized; the only thing I keep telling people is that they must be focussed and be full of faith, as praying and fasting without faith is total waste of time and energy (see Heb.11 : 6).
God Bless You!
Welcome to the blog!
Faith or beliefs can be different for different people, and its application adds more value to prayers and fasting combined. Thanks for contributing your valubale thoughts with everyone.
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Quite nicely written and quite well explained about the benefits of prayer and fasting. However, I would like to see both as a separate and exclusive things. I not only deny but totally disagree about any linkage of fasting with prayer and the fact that it raises you spiritually or bring you closer to God and all. I know in India this is how we have always known about them but that is nothing more than a misinterpretation of facts rather than anything else.
Prayer is there to help you spiritually and fasting is to help you physically. All the examples of religions you talked about – none of them do mention about any linkage of fasting with the spirituality or getting close to God and all. Fasting can only help with your physical body. Its as simple as – when ever we get stomach infection or something of the sort, docs advise to go on light diet or even skip a meal or two. This is just that unwell body parts are not capable of completing the digestion process properly.
I respect your personal views on the topic Maninder!
There are bound to various opinions on the topic, which would differ from person to person. This requires and teaches one to have tolerance and reverence for the different views and opinions as far as they promote goodness and do not harm the individual, society, community, or the country in anyway.
I had no intention of creating a controversy or arousing ill feelings, but just to deliver information and know the differences in the way we think and perceive things. So far, most commentators have accepted the significance of prayers leading to a better life, but couldn’t fall in line or agree with fasting to be associated with prayers, including yourself.
As you’ve mentioned, fasting certainly has good physical benefits, and I’m sure many others would agree to that. However, it is not imperative to undergo fasting, as there are many other good options to achieve better health.
This has overall turned out to be a good discussion taken in a positive and healthy way, and I thank you for your contribution. 🙂
It all depends on your religion and what you believe in. I have never heard of fasting and as you explain it, it is not part of my religion and I do not believe in fasting in general because I feel it is harmful to your body, but I really never done much research on it, so I can’t really speak about it 😉
But I pray all the time – more than probably anyone as I need it personally and convey it upon others – Prayer is awesome, but sometimes does not work on yourself unless more than one can pray for you, is what I have experienced myself…praying for myself never seems to work very well but I keep on trying anyway 🙂
It’s good to see that you put this out there as so many people do not pray and or not religious and therefore cannot see the power it really has.
I totally agree with your there Linda!
It all depends on what you believe in and the religion you follow. Fasting is not part of my religion too, though I practice it sometimes for health reasons alone.
Prayers do help you connect to your inner-self and is surely a great way to communicate with the Almighty. I too have heard and experienced that when you pray for others, it works more than when you pray for yourself. No wonder we have parents always pray for their children and those kids are truly blessed- isn’t it?
There are immense powers in prayers, that is for sure. And I do hope people can relate more to it, and those who really don’t believe in it, find a good reason to start it.
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I am a Muslim and we fast during the month of Ramadan. If you are familiar with the Muslim pattern; we stay without food or water from dawn to dusk. And yes, I couldn’t agree more about what you say. It teaches me self control. Though I am a complete foodie; I find it easier to fast because I am always mentally prepared for it. It teaches me a lot of things – gives me patience and also creates an awareness for the less fortunate who have to go without food. It does comes as a strong reminder to get back to those less fortunate.
As for prayers; I find peace in them. I find that I have a lot to say (yes, there too!) and that is the moment where I am able to find the peace of mind and actions that help me move on! 🙂
Glad you could resonate with the post Hajra!
I did read a lot about Muslims and how religiously they follow prayer and fasting during Ramadan, which is indeed remarkable! And this is something almost every true Muslim follows, and the practice starts right from when children are young I think. I guess during Ramadan, Muslims have one meal or dinner, and its usually eaten as a family together, if I am not mistaken.
Nonetheless, I always marveled how they manage to stay without a proper 3 meal per day schedule and water too! Guess, when you fast along with others or in a group you are mentally prepared for it. Perhaps you really don’t come to know of it and get used to it after the initial few days of Ramadan.
It sure reaches those who fast a lot of self control, patience, endurance, and yes- how to value food and think about the less fortunate who have none.
Prayers do give us inner peace and strength, along with the courage to move on ahead in life. It does work wonders for me too 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with everyone- always nice to see you 🙂
During the month of Ramadan, we have a light meal before dawn; before the morning prayers and then our fast starts. Then we eat when the sun sets in the evening; at the evening prayers. In between no drinking or eating. It sounds difficult but yes, once when we are used to it, it works like a charm. I started keeping them when I was about 12 or 13. I know kids who actually fast from when they are 6 or 7!
Well it is a personal choice I feel. But yes, for me it has always been something I look forward to. And Ramadan ends in Eid! What better than that!
It is always a pleasure to be reading your work Harleen 🙂
Nice to learn more about Ramadan-though it still takes time getting used to it. But yes, like you mentioned that you started when you were just 12 or 13, and must have been the trying or tough phase, and by now you are used to it. Kids as small as 6 or 7 are allowed to fast? How do they manage and how do their parents allow them to fast at that young an age?
You are right about it being a personal choice, and something that should come from within and not forced upon. And yes, Eid time is the celebration time for sure 🙂
Thanks once again Hajra 🙂
Like I said it is a personal choice. Young kids don’t fast throughout the month. They might fast for a day or two and then take a break and then fast for a day. They start getting used to it from a young age. Because everyone in the house are doing it; the kids find it easier to control. Once they start working on one day at a time; they find it easier to fast for the whole month when they grow up!
Beginning to follow things now Hajra! Am glad kids are allowed that kind of freedom and learn to fast eventually with time. And yes, as everyone else fasts in the house, things do become much easier.
Thanks so much for all the details and information. Am sure it would help the readers a great deal too 🙂
I hate to reiterate what a few others have already said, but it stands true for me as well.
I no longer practice any form of religion, even though I was raised to be a Christian. I have a pretty good understanding of prayer and fasting, and still believe in its power. Just not in the same way I was taught to believe it should be practiced.
Much like you, I believe that prayer is a conversation between and individual and the Higher Being. Sometimes it’s the individual letting the Higher Being know how much love and admiration they have for It, and sometimes it’s the individual sending their petition of needs and wants to the Higher Being.
I personally have come to see prayer as a way for me to thank the Universe for the many gifts it continues to supply me with. And then there are those times I sit and listen to what it has to say. I believe that we pray when we take in all the wonders in nature that the Universe supplies us with; and sometimes that means no words being spoken. I think that it’s more important in prayer to be grateful and thankful for all that life gives us; rather than tell God/Universe what we want and need. Since it’s all knowing and powerful, it already knows what we need and even what we want.
I haven’t fasted in sometime; not since leaving my religious beliefs. But your post has awakened within me the need to revisit the practice in the near future. And to learn more how to go about it with my new way of thinking.
Thank you for such an reflective post. I loved the quotes too.
Have a fantastic week, my friend.
I am so sorry to butt in Deeone. But if it is something you are willing to discuss I would want to know – is there any reason for not practicing any form of religion. Just curiosity; feel free to totally ignore the question if you think it is something you don’t want to discuss!
It was just a curious thought that is all. I will still love you just as much even if you don’t answer ! 🙂
Glad you could relate to the post Deeone!
And it’s absolutely alright if you feel the same way as a few others, I totally understand 🙂
I wonder why you no longer practice any form of religion, especially as you were raised a Christian ( and it must have been your wonderful Grandmother who would have started you with things)! But yes, I guess spirituality and believing in the Supreme power or Almighty is way above believing in any one religion.
My religion or form of prayer has always been my conversation with Him, even though I may follow a few rituals that I do because I was taught to do them and don’t want to break my parents heart by not following them. You are right about the conversation with the Almighty being about our love, admiration, feelings, needs, and so many other things also. I guess He is all ears to anything we have to say- isn’t it?
Appreciating nature, being one-to-one with it, or simply letting yourself flow in the moment all do remind us of the wonders of the Almighty and all that he has created. While I agree with you that prayer should ideally be our way of conveying how grateful and thankful we are for the smallest of things He has bestowed us with, it rarely is the case. Nowadays, people mostly turn to Him with their needs, complaints, or petitions.
I hope you do give prayer and fasting a second chance in your life and re-think about why you left it, and why you would want it back in your life. I am sure whatever were the reasons, hopefully you will learn to overcome them and move on- as they can only do you good 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and adding more value to the post, it’s always a pleasure to have you over 🙂
Hi Harleena and Hajra,
I’d love to explain my reasons for why I don’t consider myself as religious. I’d have to do that in an email or private chat though; which I’m totally open for.
I will say that I do pray… a lot actually. Fasting, it’s not that I wouldn’t… I just haven’t since leaving the church. What I meant by my statement was I do need to start it back. Was sort of rushed when I responded to the post, so I can see how that would be taken that way.
Thanks for sharing this though, Harleena… great topic of discussion. 😉
I can well understand Deeone and that’s not a problem at all 🙂
As long as you pray and are connected to Him in your own way in conversation or my spirit, you are doing well my friend. I guess fasting you may have left because you are no longer religious in the real sense. But am glad you do intend starting it once again 🙂
Thanks so much for clarifying things and wishing you the best in your new journey – back 🙂
I would totally agree; it is a personal choice after all. Religion is what we feel comfortable with and how much is all right for us. In no way should any idea be forced or put on. Religion stands for peace and whatever makes us feel at peace is the best! 🙂
Thanks for the honest reply Deeone! You are awesome! 🙂
You are quite right there Hajra!
Whether we want to follow any religion, or fast, or simply believe in a Supreme power- all depends on our personal choice and how well we are able to relate to it. Nothing should be enforced as then it looses it’s meaning, nor is it something that we would like doing.
Yes indeed, Deeone has honestly replied and we do respect his decision as well 🙂
Thanks for the wonderful conversation dear friends 🙂
Thoroughly enjoyed your review of this topic. Interestingly enough, when you speak of prayer and fasting, I think people get “hung up” on organized religion. To me it is about spirituality rather than religion. Since I do not care to discuss such beliefs in a public forum, those are my only comments on that aspect.
However, I am a huge believer in fasting for a variety of reasons. Over the years I have done numerous 7 day fasts for health. Lately I have re-incorporated a practice that I did a number of years ago. Now, once a week I fast for a day.
Personally, I like the discipline of it, I like giving my body a rest and I do believe it is good for my health.
Great discussion on this, Harleena. Best wishes for a week abundant in all that matters to you.
Until next time, aloha. Janet
Glad you enjoyed the post Janet!
You are quite right about people having various views when it comes to prayer and fasting, or each one trying to prove that their way is better than the other. Spirituality is way above religion and something that I too believe in strongly. I respect your decision, similar to Adrienne’s and a few others about not discussing about it here.
Nice to learn about that you do believe in fasting and have done so many 7 days fast for health! Truly amazing! Wonder if they were the fasts done by eating one meal a day, or the ones on juices, or the complete fasts! Fasting once a week is something most elders at our end also practice- though mainly for health reasons more than spiritual.
Thanks so much for joining the discussion and sharing your experiences with everyone 🙂
I have never come across the seven day fast. How does that work? Do you abstain from certain kinds of food or everything in particular?
This is very interesting and I agree with you on a lot of points here. But what do you think about ‘be the change you want to see in the world’, do you think that a person should actively seek to make a change through actions and not prayer?
Glad you find the post interesting Harriet!
As far as I understand, all action are preceded by thought, and thought in its seed form is intention. So any action has thought and intention inherent in it.
Prayer acts on the thought and its seed (intention) – prayer is nothing but focusing or concentration of thoughts, and the act of meditation that creates good intention. And, if the seed or sapling are good, the tree must bear good fruits too – that is, if the thoughts are good, refined, and qualitative, the person will most likely indulge in actions that are good.
I hope you’re no longer confused about prayer and action being the part of the same process – ‘Change’ is the result of the action that firstly originates in your mind as a thought, and prayer is not an ‘inactive’ process.
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I do believe in prayer. I pray daily and can’t say enough about how important it is in my life. I’m blessed to have the privilege to pray. I used to fast, but can’t do it any more.
I always have to remember to pray in thanks and glorification of God, instead of always asking and wanting. I loved that you said prayers don’t change God. It changes us. Great post.
Glad you could resonate with the post Anne!
Nice to learn that prayers are such an important part of your life. I guess what matters most is that we all pray and believe in the Supreme power, and it really doesn’t matter what religion we may follow or believe in- isn’t it?
Fasting is something most people can’t take up as they age or if there are some health problems. And that really doesn’t matter, as you have already experienced the benefits that come along with it earlier on. I still need to try out mine as yet 🙂
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I remember reading one time that many people are able to extend their lives by eating less.
Prayer is like meditation. Both can have positive effects on the mind. This seems to be well documented. I remember a doctor tested me before and after Falun Gong meditation with an accugraph (a device designed to measure meridian point energy) the differences were astonishing.
This should have the effect of motivating me to do more meditation, but sometimes I still don’t do enough!
Glad you could relate to the post David!
Yes indeed, people are known to be able to extend their life span if they eat less or practice fasting.
Meditation and prayers do have a positive effect on the mind, though through prayers you are able to connect with your soul or inner-self- and it’s your communication with God.
Meditation surely does calm you down besides the other many benefits it has. Nice to learn about your experiences regarding Falun Gong, which reminds me I too need to take out time for practicing TM (Transcendental Mediation)- something I used to do earlier.
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Prayer is personal and something you feel from the heart. Even if you don’t believe in God or religion, the marvel of a new baby or early morning sunrise causes you to stop and exclaim “wow..what a miracle”. For me, that is prayer. It comes from your heart and is a way of you asking for guidance, giving thanks or simply being presence with whatever is going on in your inner world. Sometime when your back is against the wall, prayer is the only thing left for you to do. Fasting, has religious overtones and allows you space and time to reflect on how you relate to food. Most of us, particularly in the west, eat too much, eat foods with low nutritional value, so technically a day or two of fasting is better for us than eating a typical high fat, sugar and saltly highly processed meal.
Lots of food for thought and a well written, researched post.
Glad you resonated with the post Ntathu!
You are so right about prayer being something we feel from the heart. Every single day, or single moment is something to value and remain grateful for.
I totally agree with your definition or prayer, and that is how it should be- felt from the heart and something that gives you inner peace and satisfaction.
Fasting is good for the system and has various health benefits, besides the religious overtones it carries. But yes, those who have a problem of weight or want to maintain it, may like to fast in order to give their system a break as well. I guess all the fats, carbohydrates, and sugar are totally taken care of- leaving you feeling rather light and refreshed.
Thanks so much for your kind words, and nice of you to have stopped by 🙂
I don’t pray, it’s no excuse, but it’s a little different in Norway. I do think a lot about life, and I’m try to think about what to do to make life best possible for my wife and kids, and everyone around me.
I haven’t tried fasting either, but that’s something I really want to do. Not just because I want to test it to see if I can accomplish it, but I think I should do it because it’s really good for the body.
That’s absolutely alright Jens!
I do know a lot of people who don’t pray, yet their deeds and actions are almost similar to offering daily prayers – as in your case. I think you’re a step ahead as you put others before you and think about them and their well being. Just the fact that you think so much about your family and people around you is in my eyes equivalent to prayers.
Fasting is really much needed to detoxify and give a complete rest to the body. I agree that its not a question of proving your might or capability but its mainly the intention and not the act that really matters – I wish you all the best for your first fasting experience in advance!
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
There are a few Jewish holidays that I fast during. I have found that it works best when I am either alone or with others who are also doing it. There are benefits to be had by cutting out distractions and focusing upon our thoughts.
Glad that you resonated with the post Jack!
Fasting is rather challenging with others around you having their regular meals, while you have to restrict yourself. But yes, I agree that fasting along with others or in a group may work out better as you are really not alone, and won’t feel the hunger pangs!
There sure are many benefits of fasting, something about which I would soon be writing another post 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your own experiences with everyone 🙂
Hey Harleena, great post!
Although I don’t get into religious discussions often (similar to Adrienne) due to the predjudice that I often face when I do, I agree with using fasting and prayer.
You referenced several main stream religions, but other religions have also used it for centuries from the ancient Druids, the Celts, and even the Native Americans.
It is a great way to get yourself clear of “worldly” things and seek guidance when trying to make difficult decisions in your life, or looking for direction.
Welcome to the blog James- nice to have you over!
I respect your and Andrienne’s views, and the decision to not indulge in religious discussions publicly. However, I’m glad that you felt it right to express your views on my blog.
You’ve very well summarized the purpose of prayer and fasting – and that is to seek guidance and direction from within or the Almighty – depending upon the personal belief of the individual.
You are quite right about fasting and prayer being used or practiced by many other religions, communities and civilizations for centuries. There may be more out there than what we’ve collectively mentioned.
Prayer and fasting are known to do wonders, and even if it aids in connecting one to the inner-self, it serves its purpose.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for stopping by 🙂
I enjoyed your in-depth description of payer and fasting.
Of course most people think about religion when they hear about prayer and fasting, I have to admit that I am one of them, but I also know better.
I have always been a spiritual person and I have even been a religious person for 10 years of my life, until I got so disappointed by what I was seeing that I dropped out of “the” said religion who is responsible for my brother not talking to me anymore to this day.
Religions can do a lot of damage and they certainly are not always good for the ones who practice them. But that another story 🙂
However, spirituality, is what we are, whether we really admit it to ourselves or not. We are spiritual beings and we can talk to “God” whenever and wherever we want to, and whatever God is to us as well.
Fasting is not something I could do for health reason, really. While I am a healthy person I’d be sick like a dog if I missed breakfast or lunch, however, I can go without dinner and sometimes I do. But. I can see that some people are built that way and can experience fasting for better enlightenment.
Again you’ve written a great piece here, Harleena 🙂
Glad you enjoyed the description Sylviane!
Prayer and fasting is indeed a part of many existing religions, but this activity can also be practiced by those who’ve different beliefs. No matter the reason, whether its more of a ritual they follow for connecting with their inner-self or for health benefits, the end result is always positive.
Sorry to hear about your unpleasant religious experiences and the consequences, but I’m sure you’ve put it behind you and moved on. Its sad that differences in religious opinions and beliefs can disturb relations, and I do hope that prayer and fasting bring some solution to your personal problem.
Like you, being spiritual and believing in the Almighty is in my eyes far more important than being just religious. Your reference to spiritual being does remind me of a quote that we’re heavenly spiritual beings having a human experience on Earth!
I too haven’t really tried fasting for health reasons, though I read that abstinence in any form is good for the detoxification process.
Though I do not really think fasting is essential for enlightenment, but yes, those who do fast for spiritual reasons need to be appreciated for their will power and dedication!
Thanks for stopping by and adding more value to the post 🙂
I love the choice of topic. This is one that I just know brings up feelings of controversy and speculation in so many…and it’s one that is also close to my heart.
I, like Adrienne, do not consider myself to be a “religious” type of person. I grew up in a deliverance ministry, to be quite honest…my Mother was on a spiritual quest for truth and fulfillment and we “sampled” many different kinds of religious doctrines and dogmas along the way. (Actually, one thing many people do not know about me is that I can quote scripture like an old Southern Baptist preacher.)
Over the years of experiencing different kinds of spiritual inclinations, I have come to the conclusion that there are so many ways for us to be…and so many paths to the source of all that IS. I choose not to pick any one and cling desperately, but rather to have an open communion with that source. And my preferred way of communication is via prayer or meditation.
I love the Mother Theresa quote. I find so much truth in this. God is not an ATM. I see so many reduce their God to this level…it is a self-serving little box. So obscure in scope of all that IS.
I am also a big fan of fasting.
For years, I have participated in different kinds of fasting for different purposes. Some for times of spiritual purification and others for health alone. I practice quarterly fasts prior to the change of seasons. I have been one who does Panchakarma to prepare my body for the abrupt changes that seasons sometimes bring (especially for folks like myself who are sensitive to allergies). Taking a fast prior to things like Panchakarma is always very helpful for me to reap maximum benefit.
I notice many times that by taking away some of the daily desires (which are often taken for granted, such as having endless supply of great food and drink daily), the mind will play out some interesting scenarios…but ultimately what happens for me is that I find how much I all ready have within. It brings an appreciation forward which is many times simply dismissed in the bustle of life. I find that my thinking becomes very clear and that some of the puzzles in my mind are able to be solved.
Loved this article, Harleena! Thank you for sharing some of the amazing benefits of fasting with the world. I think this could be so helpful to others if they will simply be open to a change and give it a try!
Have a marvelous weekend!
Cat Alexandra 😉
Glad you could relate to the post so well Cat!
I am sure you found the post very clean and devoid of any controversial content. But its nice to know that you already possess knowledge and experience about prayer and fasting. It’s heartening to learn that your Mother has been on a spiritual quest, which is so noble and rare these days.
I am sure you had a blessed childhood trying out various kinds of religious activities along the way. And if you can quote scriptures, you must be a great help to all your near and dear ones. It sure is something none of us can do I guess- and you must have been taught how to do that when you were young- you’re well ahead of us! 🙂
You are quite right about not following any one path, religion, or have a particular kind of fixed spiritrual inclination. It is better to remain open minded and believe in the supreme power, whether it’s through prayer, meditation, or fasting. I guess the end result is what really matters.
Loved the reference you made to God not being an ATM – so true! It is sad that people turn to Him when their wants need to be fullfilled or when they are suffering or in pain. I guess most people are so entangled in the worldy web (I don’t really mean the Internet!) and possessed with materialistic affairs that they often turn selfish. Nevertheless, any kind of approach to God is appreciated.
Great to know that you really practice fasting, then am sure you’ll like my future post on fasting. Panchkarma is something that is practiced at our end quite often by many people too – an age old remedy for detoxification. Its really enlightening to know how you use fasts to prepare your body to new seasons – I guess then your family physician would surely miss you a lot! Lol.
I totally agree with you that when you are able to tame your mind and restrict or limit your desires, you do feel uplifted and rejuvinated- and prayer and fasting are great aid just for doing that.
Thank you so much for your beautiful comment, and sharing your experiences with everyone. And I too hope the readers find the post useful and are willing to give things a try 🙂
Enjoy your weekend as well 🙂
Never prayed but had fasted for many days, and many times in college I woke up in the evening 🙂
Welcome to the blog Bishwajeet!
Sorry for the delay in reply as somehow your comment went into spam.
The main purpose of spiritual fasting is to control the desires and the mind. But if you spend the time sleeping, you don’t get the opportunity to do that, and instead it becomes a hunger strike or dieting. However, if fasting is done for health benefits then sleeping right through doesn’t make you undergo the discomforts 🙂
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
This was very interesting and I can appreciate you wanting to learn more about something that you aren’t that familiar with.
When I think of prayer and fasting I think of religions so that is the context I’ve always viewed these both. I don’t consider myself overly religious but I do believe I have a wonderful relationship with God. I don’t really enjoy having conversations about religion because this is a topic so many people are passionate about and it can get to the extreme where they are trying to convince you to believe their way because they do believe it’s the only way.
I’ve never fasted and it’s not something I will see myself doing. I can appreciate those who feel that it can bring them closer in their relationship with God so I can only respect their thoughts on that subject.
I’m very happy with where I am in my life but am always open to learning how others think and why so I appreciate you sharing what you learned from this.
Enjoy your weekend Harleena and I know we’ll bump into each other next week.
Glad you found the post interesting Adrienne!
I surely did want to learn more about fasting than prayers, as I have seen so many people believe so strongly about it. And its always nicer to keep gaining more knowledge about things you don’t know.
We are quite similar in our thoughts I think, as like you, I also don’t really follow the norms or rituals one’s really supposed to. Nor have I really tried fasting for so many days, and really marvel at those who do and appreciate them for it. Yes, I do strongly believe in the power of prayers, and I have felt the prayers work at so many incidences of my life.
You are quite right about not really getting into a conversation about religion or enjoying talking about it, as there can be many views on this topic, both in the favor and otherwise also. And people always do feel their way or their religion is the best 🙂
Nice to know that you have reached the place where you are content, happy, and settled- that in itself gives a big sense of achievement- doesn’t it?
Thanks so much for stopping by, it’s always a pleasure to have you over 🙂
Have a nice weekend as well and yes, we meet next week over at your place 🙂
If you have read our ancient Indian texts, you will discover that “fasting and prayer are not religious exercises”. They have a scientific background but are taught to the masses by our sages because at that point of time or even now, everyone can’t be convinced through scientific explanations.
In order to motivate masses to follow the route of ‘Fasting and Prayers’ for mental and physical well being, it was given a religious cover.
Glad you could relate to the post Rajendranath!
Though I haven’t read the ancient texts, I’ve always considered fasting and prayer as spiritual practices. But I do not think it matters even if people just consider these practices as religious, as far as they benefit from them.
I agree with you that prayer and fasting must have a scientific basis as it absolutely affects our mental and physical aspects.
Thanks for your interest and contribution.
My brother-in-law is a teacher of yoga and a manager in the international Sivananda Yoga organization. I think he would agree with Rajendranath that both prayer and fasting have definite health and wellness benefits removed from any questions of spirituality or religion. I am a Unitarian and we have members of very diverse beliefs – which happens when you don’t have any dogma or scriptures. So we interpret prayer in many different ways, and some equate it with meditation. I like to think of it as getting in touch with my highest and best self, but there are many other interpretations.
Welcome to the blog Claire!
I totally agree that prayer and fasting have postive effects on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our wellness – whether you practice them as part of any religion or not. However, whatever belief a practitioner follows, a sense of purpose and good intentions do help to achieve better results.
Yes, prayers and fasting are of many types, and in all we ultimately aim for self development in some way or the other. At the end, we’ve to respect all methods that help people actualize themselves in terms of good and pure human beings.
Thanks for stopping by 🙂