The benefit of Spiritual Fasting and it's Testimonies
Before you begin fasting, there are a few things that you need to take care of, here is a step by step guide for anyone looking, to begin with, spiritual fasting in order to cleanse their soul or just trying a different path in life. This detailed checklist would guide and encourage you.
1. Seek Professional Guidance
Make sure to ask for professional guidance on fasting. It is important that you seek help from a doctor and get your health checked up in detail before you begin fasting. Fasting means abstaining from food and water for a few hours during the day, and you might not be well enough to do that. So making sure that you have a go-ahead from your doctor, is the first and the most important thing to do when you choose to start fasting.
2. Learn Humbleness and Compassion
Fasting and praying teach you humbleness. When you fast, you give up the worldly comforts in order to come closer to your Lord; in some ways, you don’t ask for something from God, but instead, you tell him that your love and devotion to him is more than anything else that exists in this world. When you fast, you realize the hunger and the emptiness of those lesser than you. Your heart is purified and made more compassionate.
3. Never Be Arrogant
Never become too arrogant about what you're going through to fast. Do not go around telling people that you're fasting for God and living the righteous life just to make an impression. Instead keep this between you and your Creator, as suffering in silence and keeping faith without showing off will have a much bigger and purer impact on your spiritual growth.
4. Fast Together
Have some company when you fast. It doesn’t mean that you need to force someone in your house to fast with you, instead, you could ask a friend and fast together. Knowing the other is also fasting will keep both of you motivated. If you live away from home at a hostel or something, you could always reach out to your peers and start a fasting group. You could all fast together, and then have discussions about how everyone’s journey throughout the day was.
5. Prepare Your Body Ahead of Time
Prepare yourself physically for the fast. Two or three days prior to your fasting tenure, limit the food and water intake into your body so that your body isn’t too shocked, and doesn’t feel weak when it receives limited or no food at all for an extensive amount of time.
6. Remember Why You're Doing It
Don’t forget the purpose – to get closer to God. When you’re fasting, you need to do things that bring you closer to strengthening your bond with the higher being who you believe in. You could achieve this by helping those in need, and remaining especially kind and helpful during fasting hours. One thing that has proved most successful is reading the word of God with understanding.
7. If You Fall, Get Back Up
It's not going to be easy, that's for sure. If you fail, keep on marching. Just like exercise, the results cannot be seen overnight, it takes determination and consistency. Even though you might feel that you’re not moving as fast as you would like, remember to keep the faith and continue on, your faith will only get stronger with time, one way or the other.
8. Don't Go Too Hard At the Time of Breaking Your Fast
Don’t overeat after breaking the fast. People often give in to the illusion that your body creates that it wants more food, instead make sure to eat in small proportions during the time that you will be eating.
The Benefits of Spiritual Fasting
There are many benefits of spiritual fasting to our general life. Some of these include health benefits, spiritual benefits, it helps us strengthen our bond with God.
1. Spiritual fasting helps us strengthen our bond with God
Giving up luxuries is something that we can all manage if such a time comes, however, the basic necessities of life such as water and food are two things without living can get difficult. Giving up food just for the love of your creator, makes you feel more dependent on the Lord, which helps you build a stronger and much closer relationship with Him.
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63.1)
2. Be Spiritually Strong
Fasting can be difficult and make you agitated and angry with your surroundings more easily than usual since your body is craving food and water and you are holding yourself back. However, God says that if you maintain patience and compassion in times of hardship, you can get twice the reward you are seeking. Fasting makes you spiritually strong and patient with yourself and the world around you.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law” (Galatians 5.22-23)
Types of Fasting, the Schedule and the Steps
1. Water Fasting
It is one of the most intensely structured fasting techniques out there, and is often used for the purpose of detoxification and to keep your body off any kind of calories. In this type, you only drink water and restrain yourself from acquiring any kind of calories. In order to start this type of fasting, you need to keep a few things in mind, so that you can avoid any health mishaps caused by the lack of calories that you consume. For an adult male, it is advised that he consumes up to 3 liters of water, whereas for a woman it's 2.5.
In this, you only drink water for up to three days without consuming any kind of food. In order to be fully equipped, you need to take care of: planning thoroughly the water fast, accomplishing your water fast, stay safe during your fast by making sure you don’t get dizzy and by avoiding any excessive exercise.
2. Religious Fasting
The second type of fasting we've chosen to discuss is one that's practiced in the religious fasting. Fasting is a normalized concept in Christianity as it is cited and discussed in its Holy Scriptures. In fact, a lot of modern-day fasting practices originally stemmed from various religious traditions. 40 days of Lent for fasting, which lead to the celebration of Easter is a form of fasting for religious purpose. Other religions that have fasting as a part of their religion include the Muslim faith, where they observe the fasting month of Ramadan.
3. Secular Spiritual Fasting - Hildegard's Fast
Hildegard believed in the concept that all men are connected with the nature that surrounds them, and signs of nature are reflections of the Divine, and a means for men to connect with Him. Hildegard had a staunch belief in the importance of moderation, and saw fasting as a way to find balance and discipline against man's inherent desire for excess.
She believed that a short temper and lack of patience are such spiritual weaknesses that form toxins in our bodies, translating into physical illnesses. To her, fasting was a way to develop the patience and strength to fight against temptation. The whole concept of Hildegard’s fasting was practicing endurance and developing an overall discipline, helping people avoid health issues, anger, and general imbalance.
4. Intermittent fasting
The third type is intermittent fasting. This is usually when you put your body into two phases during the day, the one where you fast, and the other where you feast. It means that your body is used to consuming energy from the food you take in, instead of taking the food that has already been stored in your body as fat. When you put your body in the state of fasting your metabolism consumes the energy from the body fat that is stored.
You could either do weekly intermittent fasting or go for an alternate day plan. A weekly plan is where you could start your fast from 3 pm on a Sunday and break it on Monday 5 pm. whereas an alternate day plan is where you have comparatively more stretched out periods of fasting but on alternate days.
Intermittent fasting is very beneficial, some of these include: it makes your routine less complicated, it’s not as difficult and hard as following a proper diet, and it increases excessive weight loss!
Note on Liquid Intake
Fasting may be a difficult process for some, but an amazing spiritually and mentally relaxing process for others. However, in either of the cases, people fasting need to be very careful of their liquid intake during the process of fasting. When you fast and don’t consume food and water for long hours during a day, you could lose the advised hydration levels of your body. In order to maintain these during the hours that one is not fasting, they need to make sure that they get at least two to three liters of water in order to maintain the hydration levels in their body.
People often overlook the need to drink water, or any kind of liquid. Especially in summers, when people begin fasting they don’t realize that the heat and weather could play a huge part in making them sick. They could consume liquids in the form of natural juices, and water. It is advisable that you avoid any kind of fizzy drinks or colas that will make you thirsty in the long run, and make your body weak.
We've talked about the different kinds of fasts, and how they can uplift a person in terms of their health and patience, their mental well-being, spiritual growth, and building up a relationship with God. There are various types of fasting out there with different rules and places of historic origins, and each of them has benefits of their own. We've discussed a few major ones in detail, and we hope you take away valuable knowledge and inspiration to try it out for yourself. All the best to you in all your spiritual endeavors!