Thursday, 11 August 2011

prayer and fasting

One member of our family - our Afghan teenage daughter that I talked a bit about here - is fasting right now for the month of Ramadan. My revelation in yesterday's post was related to avoiding unpacking and other household duties. And observing someone in my house observe Ramadan highlights this even more: I lack self-discipline.

I don't think I've ever fasted. Have you? Maybe I have for one meal, but that just seems laughable. I told her this, and she did laugh. She said, "That's not hard at all! You could have a big breakfast and then a big supper and not really notice at all!"

Her day starts with prayers and breakfast at 3:00am, followed by a bit more sleeping, followed by a normal day, followed by supper at 8:40pm. No food, no water - nothing - until 8:40 in the evening. And I marvel at her self-discipline, especially in a house where no one else is fasting. Especially in this hot summer month.

For the past 3 evenings now, we've shared evening prayers together. She prays in Arabic - a beautiful chant-like prayer with kneeling and bowing. We watch and listen and follow, my daughters quiet, awed, eager participants. Since the first evening, they have begged to do these prayers together. Then we pray in English. First, the Aaronic blessing, then the Lord's prayer. It is a wonderful moment of faith-sharing in our family.
evening prayers
It's made me think about the things I'm disciplined about. And the list is very short.

1. Writing. I've become more disciplined in my writing over the last 5 months, thanks to this blogging habit. Most days I enjoy it, but there are some days when it does feel like work. That's when the discipline kicks in.
2. Making my bed. It's a bad, bad day if the bed hasn't been made. This is one area of the house where I insist on a small zone of calm and tidiness.
3. Eating. I eat every day without fail. I even eat good meals made from good ingredients most days.
4. Brushing teeth. I brush my teeth every day too.

Things I want to be more disciplined about:

1. Praying
2. Exercising
3. Thinking before talking (especially to family members)

And you? Where do you show self-discipline? Where do you not, and wish you would?


  1. Oh Rebecca, what a good post for me. I was thinking last night about personal discipline. I know what my list used to include, but in the last three months it has changed and my own disciplines have gone out the window while I've been quite disciplined about taking care of a baby. Right now my daily list includes:
    1) Making the bed;
    2) leaving the house (sounds dorky, but for someone who works from home, I make sure to physically leave at some point. Most days right now it's a quick walk around the block. Admit that some days it's a walk to the mailbox and back.)
    3) Email. I'd like to lose this discipline on the weekends and do other disciplines.
    4) Prayer--which is also feeling hurried.
    5) Eating.

  2. Obviously catching up on your posts here!

    I strongly dislike being hungry. It reminds me of when I was a teenager and I had an eating disorder. I don't know whether fasting would ever be a good choice for me, as a discipline.

    That said, I know I'm pretty disciplined when it comes to things that matter to me. I make the choice: here's what I will be disciplined about; which also means setting priorities. And I find that being disciplined about one thing might mean having to let something else go. I can imagine, for example, that fasting during daylight hours would not mesh well with training for a marathon ... or even with less strenuous exercise.

    I always make the bed, too.
    I hang laundry to dry every day, rather than use a drier.
    I've made exercise a priority.
    I cook most of our meals from scratch.
    I floss.
    I make time for writing, and use the time to work.

    But my house isn't always very clean or tidy (I prioritize bathrooms and kitchen). My kids aren't always clean and tidy either.

    On the whole, though, I think that I'm almost too disciplined, and what I need is more flexibility and willingness to drop things and go with the natural flow of the day. Is there a balanced medium?

  3. Amy - parenting will do that to you! Throws everything out the window, for awhile anyway. I want my kids to learn self-discipline too, and the best way I know is to show it to them! So I'm doubly inspired - because I want it for me, and I want it for them too. I totally get that "leaving the house" discipline. As someone who parents and works from home, I need that discipline too or I can become a little nutso.

    Carrie - you are an inspiration to me with your triathlons and 4 kids and writing. I can sense your discipline as you make time for all of those things in your life. Interesting about the fasting comment you made. I've heard this from others before too - who don't want the church to push the idea of fasting because of some who have had eating disorders. Yes - a good balance between discipline and flexibility is a GREAT thing!