Spiritual fasting

Almost all religions have one common practice, practised intermittently during festivals and other auspicious times. And that is, of course, the practice of abstaining from food and liquid intake or fasting.

This practice is as old as the hills and should be indulged in voluntarily and willingly and definitely not forced or made compulsory. Indeed, one should fast on these roughly 12-24 hour periods due to one’s conviction and faith and not for vested interests, ulterior motives or intentions to “bribe” God.

People of almost all religions observe fasts – the Christians fast during the season of Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday and culminates with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Muslims fast for a period of one month prior to Ramadan, while Jews do so during Yom Kippur. 

Hindus fast on different auspicious days according to their Hindu spiritual calendar with young Hindu girls even fasting periodically to find suitable and amiable husbands.Agreed, it is justified for one to fast solely for health reasons. However, if one adds the spiritual component and angle to fasting, it implies that the person is, besides fasting, also praying and meditating devoutly to God. If this is done sincerely and with keenness and genuineness, it makes the person spiritually enervated and morally strong. Indeed, spiritual gurus have likened fasting to almost a sacrifice for God since one is voluntarily giving up for a period of time something most people like and enjoy. Eating is not the only pleasure that one can give up; one can give up almost anything that one enjoys and relishes, like watching TV, excessive partying, or even smoking and drinking.

Needless to say, all fasts involve a great deal of discipline and self-control for them to be effective and beneficial. Therefore, this restraint automatically makes one evolve into a noble, more principled, ethical and conscientious human being. On the spiritual front, fasting can elicit great spiritual breakthroughs in one’s life. Obstacles seem less daunting, deleterious habits can be eschewed, relationships can be forged amicably, and financial imbroglios ameliorated. All this is because fasting has been complemented and coupled with sincere praying and meditating, which is a powerful spiritual tool of healing, delivering and breaking free from bondage.

At another spiritual level, fasting also helps in making a person more humble, humane and sensitive. As Psalm 35:13 says, “I humbled myself with fasting.” This premium quality makes one whittle down one’s pride and ego as one discerns the value of humility and humaneness.On the whole, people of all religions should fast (as per the dictates of their particular faith) for it gives one the bigger picture of life. In my own life, I have found that it has helped me to eliminate my foibles like excessive anger, hatred, unreasonableness, stubbornness and a faulty attitude. In short, it has made me a better human being. It can do wonders for you, too!

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