Before we go into the benefits of praying and fasting, let me remind you that fasting and praying are two seemingly unrelated practices that can, in fact, complement each other quite well. That’s right; praying and fasting can actually be really good for you, not just spiritually or mentally, but physically as well. Here are just five of the benefits of praying and fasting to get you thinking about how these two practices can benefit you and your life.
1. Praying strengthens your relationship with God
It strengthens your relationship with God by opening up your heart to him. Prayer is a way of saying I need help or thank you. It’s a way of asking for what we want or simply being grateful for all the good things in our lives.
Prayer can change your life. When we pray, it changes our entire perspective on life. Through prayer, we learn how much God loves us and how much he cares about us in every moment of every day. We also learn how to grow closer to Him through forgiveness and kindness toward others.
Also, it gives us hope when there seems to be none left at all. With everything going on in the world today, it’s easy to feel discouraged and give up. But when we turn to prayer, we’re reminded that no matter how bad things may seem, God always has a plan. He wants to give us hope even when there doesn’t seem like any available at all.
Praying helps us find new purpose in our lives. People who are struggling spiritually often feel adrift without any direction or meaning in their lives.
2. Fasting develops self-control and discipline
So, it is a way to develop self-control, discipline, and willpower. Fasting can also lead to feelings of increased closeness to God. Just like a prayer, fasting is an act of faith. You are trusting that God will supply your needs. When we fast, we can experience spiritual healing.
Sometimes it’s as simple as refraining from food for a day or two so our bodies may fully heal from illness or injuries. Other times, spiritual healing comes from surrendering our desires and asking God to take control in the process. In any case, by abstaining from food and other pleasures for a period of time, we show our willingness to submit to the will of God.
There is power in this submission. There is peace. We feel closer to Him during and after the fast. These days, many people choose to fast from social media, television, or the internet instead of food. They find new depths of peace and contentment because they are relying on God for their daily bread.
3. Praying and fasting can lead to physical healing
One of the most prominent health benefits of praying is that it can lead to physical healing. This can be seen through prayer for a sick person, as well as prayer for oneself.
In the Quran, when Allah heals someone, he says And We sent down of the Qur’an that which is healing and mercy to those who believe. (Qur’an 17:82) In this verse, Allah explains that the Qur’an has healing properties–and by extension, so does prayer. Likewise in Surah Muminun: Allah will heal them; He is the best at curing.
(Qur’an 23:9) When we fast for Ramadan, we do so in order to cleanse ourselves from sin. Fasting shows gratitude to God because, without him, we would not have food or water. It also reminds us how life could be without the sustenance that comes from God, even if only for a short period of time. (Ibn ‘Abbas said,) The Messenger of Allah was asked, ‘What deed could elevate one’s position in Paradise?’ He answered, ‘Fasting.’
4. Prayer and fasting can break spiritual strongholds
One of the greatest spiritual battles is on the inside. Prayer and fasting have been around since Biblical times, as a way to break free from spiritual strongholds. These strongholds can be anything from lust, anger, greed, or any other sin that has been let into your heart.
The Bible speaks to our need for prayer in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 where we are told I urge you…to pray for all people. When we pray for those around us, it not only helps them spiritually but also brings us closer to God through prayer.
To fight these strongholds we need to turn away from temptation. That’s where prayer and fasting come in! It’s one thing to make this decision alone, but when we rely on God, He will provide strength when we’re at our weakest (Philippians 4:13). We find freedom in Christ through prayer and fasting. Freedom from bitterness (Colossians 3:13), freedom from control by fear (2 Corinthians 7:10), and freedom from being enslaved by bad habits (Romans 6:6). Prayer is powerful because it leads us to repentance which frees us of guilt and shame.
5. Praying and fasting can improve your mental health
Studies have shown that prayer and fasting can significantly improve your mental health. Prayer in particular has been found to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Additionally, prayer has been found to alleviate the symptoms of general anxiety disorder.
Fasting on the other hand has been shown to be effective for those with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. It also decreases binge-eating behavior among obese patients. Finally, it improves insulin sensitivity in both healthy people and diabetics.
This is all without mentioning the spiritual aspects of these practices! In our busy world, a little time spent in prayer or fasting is time well spent. Your physical, mental and spiritual health will reap many rewards. If you’re looking for ways to grow closer to God and help yourself at the same time, pray more often.
Prayer is a powerful way to connect with God, be renewed in spirit, and have your faith strengthened. It is also a way to express gratitude for the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Fasting on the other hand helps people detach from worldly desires which can help them focus on what they really want in life. Fasting is also used as an act of protest against certain sins or practices we believe are wrong.