Gospel Study Sesh – Fasting
So confession time: me and fasting? Not great buddies. As I looked at the next topic on the list, I couldn’t help but cringe a little bit. What testimony do I have of fasting? I feel much better with prayer, but fasting has not left the best impression on me. It just makes me hungry, it’s hard, I always rationalize trimming down the hours, etc. I’m not strong here. So what better way to spend my Gospel Study Sesh hours than working on this! If your life is full of incredible experiences wrought through fasting, you win. I’m gonna start at the bottom and try to catch up, humour me (that’s for you Canada).
- Please share your testimony of fasting. Why fast at all?
Ay yi yi. Fasting is a difficult concept for many of us. With my dear partner (I mean Al, not the wife), I, too, struggle to full appreciate fasting and work to be better at it. Hopefully through this Gospel Study Sesh topic we can all improve!
But this is what I know: temporally, fasting keeps me grateful to have food, shelter, and so many other basic needs with which I am blessed in overabundance. I think that as Latter-day Saints, we’d do well to set aside more time in our prayers to thank Heavenly Father for the seemingly insignificant, everyday parts of our lives. But remember, about a fifth of the world lives in poverty, and there are people in your stake and ward who are struggling; yes, even with putting a meal on the table. So be grateful. Pray for those who go without that they may be both comforted and provided for.
Spiritually, I admit is a bit trickier. We’re promised that through fasting, we sort of quicken the spirit and entitle ourselves to more potent experiences with the Holy Ghost and personal revelation. I have absolutely appreciated fasting, especially on “special” occasions outside of fast Sunday, as a family or group fast for a specific cause. I have felt closer to my loved ones and buoyed up through the combined power of the spirit.
That said, it’s amazing how much going for 24 hours/2 meals – whichever comes first – can seem like a drag; how easily I tell myself “Eh, you sort of started fasting around 10 pm last night. You can eat now that you are home from Church at 3 pm.” In some ways, true, for I have skipped two meals, but is that the spirit of the fast? I have Muslim friends who spend an entire month not eating during the daytime during Ramadan. It blows my mind.
- Is there anything “too small” to fast for? What do you fast for?
- “The Law of the Fast” – Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
- “The Law of the Fast” – Elder L. Tom Perry (yes, we have two different talks with the same title)
I had several conversations over the last few days around fasting, specifically around what am I fasting for. I constantly am reminded of Brigham Young’s quote that we, as a people, live far below our privileges as Latter-day Saints. We rarely get what we don’t ask for. So my musings have been what should I be fasting for that would bring more meaning into my life? What opportunities are there for me if I fasted for missionary opportunities, if I fasted for understanding of a gospel principle, if I fasted to be better at my job, or as a husband or father, what blessings wait for us? Makes me embarrassed that I’ve gone years without even asking for any of that :/
- What is different about a fast vs a prayer? Does the Lord reward hungry people differently?
What is different about a fast vs a prayer? Hmm. For one, prayer can happen during a fast or not during a fast. Fasting doesn’t really happen during a prayer, if you get what I mean.
And sadly, per the other question, the hungry often remain hungry, which is why we must be diligent in offering a generous fast offering. There are few things so vital to the temporal welfare of our brothers and sisters, regardless of religious persuasion, as our ability to bridge the gaps during lean periods. Those who have been blessed with much will, I hope, surely bless others with much.
But I believe what we are getting at here is the difference between spending time praying with gratitude or praying for specific blessings, as a fast is often tied to the latter. I believe that a fast amplifies the accompanying prayer. We are promised a greater sensitivity to the spirit when we fast. In fact, my mission president says so. I actually found that article just by looking for quotes about fasting and its relationship to a strengthened spirit; and I stumble upon the man that helped me survive two years in Spain. Go figure. Apologies if that was self-indulgent.
There’s an interesting point near the end of that article, though, and it discusses how to use the time you would normally spend eating. We so easily focus on donating the money that would have gone to those meals, but I love the counsel to use the time I would have spent preparing and eating food in “worthy pursuits” – studying the scriptures, serving others, etc. An interesting take, to be sure.
- A fast has many components. How are you at employing all of them? Do you have faith in your fast? What prevents you from fully embracing fasting?
- Use the one above in the prose, my children.
- Isaiah 58:8-10 – seriously, ponder these verses
How are you at employing all of them (components of a fast)? Do you have faith in your fast? What prevents you from fully embracing fasting?
It really does come down to faith. Faith is hard. If we fasted with faith (pray to know the will of God and then fast to fulfill that) we would genuinely be able to reach deep into the souls of men and enact change in ways we’ve never considered.
After thinking through all this, my ending thought on paper was something in regards to the quote about satan’s best tool in the last days being apathy, we are just being lazy..
- So here’s the deal for today, start a fast tonight after dinner, skip breakfast / lunch tomorrow (Monday) – this will be crazy, fasting not on a Sunday, go 24 hours. Write about your experience.
- “Do It” – President Spencer W. Kimball