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By The Benaissa Family 

As you may know, millions worldwide, including my family of origin, are fasting this month. It has been many years since I participated in this fast with my family. We thought you might be interested in hearing about some of my memories. My experience may generate ideas on how to pray for those observing this fast, or it could spark a conversation with someone who is observing this fast.

Growing up, fasting was like a competition among children in the neighborhood. The first child in any age group to fast was seen as a child of good character raised in a good family. The first time I fasted, I was 10 years old (and the first among the 10-year-olds). This was a time of great celebration for my family. I could not make it through the entire day but making it halfway through the day was very significant. My mom was proud, and she bragged about me in the neighborhood.

After the first day of fasting, I received several rewards. These rewards raised my enthusiasm and increased my motivation to fast another day. In general, what I did was not because I was seeking God’s approval. Instead, I wanted to please my family, earn their pride, receive gifts, and be better than the other children.

As an adult, my perspective changed. I began to understand that what seemed like a competition was a condition to earn God’s approval. I realized that this fast was one of the imposed religious pillars I had to fulfill. Despite this reality, there were several things that I really enjoyed: the special family time, the banquets that my sisters prepared to break the fast, going out and meeting with friends in the evenings, prayer times (especially the ones that gave double rewards), etc.

I noticed how this month of fasting impacted people in the community. For some, this fast had very little religious significance. But they still made the most of the experience. Instead of praying, they would get together outside and play cards and checkers all night. I also noticed that most of the burden of this month’s fasting was carried by women. They spent long hours preparing and cooking for the banquets we enjoyed at night.

My eyes were opened when I read the Bible for the first time, specifically Isaiah 58 and Matthew 6:16-18. I realized that fasting in the Bible was not the same as what I had been raised with. The truth is that fasting is not a requirement for salvation, as salvation is only in a personal and authentic relationship with God. In the context of this relationship, fasting is between God and me, and nobody needs to know when I am fasting. Fasting is not simply about physical hunger and thirst but also about walking away from things that don’t please God.

Many of our family and friends are seeking god’s approval as they fast. Below are some ways to pray:

  • Pray that through this month of fasting they would find the True God.
  • Pray that God would reveal to them the true meaning of a fast.
  • Pray that God will give us all divine opportunities to engage in conversations about fasting, especially with those who are observing this monthly fast.
Discussion Questions:

Copy and paste this link to your social media with an answer to one of the questions below. Or you can leave a comment on this blog post.

  • What did you learn as you read this first-hand experience from our Global Worker?
  • Write out a prayer for Muslims.
  • Take the first step to get to know your Muslim community and share about that experience with your friends.
  • Download this guide to learn how you can reach out to Muslims in your community.


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