Spiritual Fasting – Lifestyle Changes

And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. [Luke 12:29-31]

Lifestyle Changes
Contemplating a fast? Look not only at food and water, but at your lifestyle. Look to see what there is in your daily life that represents a distraction from spiritual development. Analyze your thoughts and determine what preoccupies you, what diverts you from remembrance of God.

Do you spend all day thinking about your work, then every evening immersed in programs that fills your thoughts with sports, fiction, sensational news events or inconsequential media talk? Do you spend weekends amusing yourself with trivial pastimes that improvidently satiate your thoughts process, until Monday morning when your personal eternal recurrence begins again.

. . . Verily, God does not change mankind’s condition unless they change their inner selves; and when God wills people to suffer evil [in consequence of their own evil deeds], there is none who could avert it: for they have none who could protect them from Him. [Quran 13:11].

A fast can circumscribe such activities. Choose to isolate one or a few of these distractions, and undertake complete or partial abstention from them. This too is fasting.

Examine your words to see whether patterns of deceit, anger, backbiting, cursing, lying, boasting, bickering, babbling, complaining, criticizing, or arrogance abound. Select one, or as many as you can identify, then determine to abstain from it (them).

Devotional Immersion
Further, identify physical activities in which you engage that are contradictions of your spiritual affirmations and offensive to your true self. Restrict them, or even better eliminate them. If possible, replace them with acts of charity, kindness and love.

Undoubtedly, such fasting is more subtle – and more difficult – than simply abstaining from food for a few hours.

On Yom Kippur the Torah commands us to “afflict ourselves” by not eating. To not eat is to suffer. G?d gives us this day to try and wake us up, to shake us out of our slumber, to sensitize us to the truth of reality, to the deeper places within ourselves, to our need for Him.  [Rabbi Ilan Weinberg].

Fasting must encompass your thoughts, your words and your deeds. It should grow from mere abstention from food and drink to total immersion in a spiritual lifestyle manifesting complete devotion to God.

And he said unto his disciples, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.” [Luke 12:22-23]

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