An intention to please God precedes every sincere act of worship. One intends to please God before the actual act of worship is performed. The act may never be brought to fruition, for one reason or another, yet the intention itself is beneficial. The initial intention evidences a conviction that reinforces faith and trust.
The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: “Actions are judged according to the intention behind them, and for everyone is what he intended.” [Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 3.113].
A spiritual fast offers an opportunity to our soul to sustain spiritual consciousness for a prolonged period. We are seeking to refine our physical body so that it can be more receptive to divine awareness. Therefore, it is essential that we clearly articulate and maintain our purpose for fasting.
The initial resolution to fast represents a step toward God. To resolve to fast for God means that you are taking action to accomplish an act of worship. When we translate faith into action, the result is attitude modification.
Faith and Trust
Implicit in sincere worship is belief and trust in God. For example, one who engages in prayer, ascribes to it a significance far beyond human comprehension. The same is true with other acts based on spiritual affirmations such as charity, pilgrimage and fasting. Faith and trust are what first produce attitude modification.
“Yet if you devote your heart to Him and stretch out your hands to Him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor.” [Job 11:13-19 RSV].
The prevailing attitude of a fasting person should generate humility, penitence and repentance. Anger, impatience, pride or other negative passing emotions, however, may disturb the contrite heart. Yet, the underlying intention to please God restores the fast to its proper course.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise [Psalm 51:17 KJV].
Focusing on our goal to please God brings our attitude into proper perspective. Refocused on God, the fasting person resumes his penitence, remembers his remorse and continues his quest for God-consciousness. While filled with this consciousness, little room exists for other competing states of mind.
God never fails. His promise is sure. He rewards and punishes as He wills. He accepts the penitent heart. He mercy is all encompassing.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones [Isaiah 57:15 KJV].