As long as I can remember, fasting has been an important part of my life. Growing up it was just something we did, but it slowly became a necessity in my life. No matter what decision or challenge comes, fasting has taught me so many lessons over the years and I have seen so many great blessings come into my life because of it. My family has experienced the power of fasting and it has had such a positive impact on all of us!
How do we fast?
Fasting is going without food or drink for a certain amount of time. Our family fasts for 24 hours and/or 2 consecutive meals. There is one Sunday a month that is dedicated to fasting. Although we sometimes have need for another fast during the month, but generally it is once a month. The money that we would’ve spent on food for those meals is saved and is donated to a fund called “Fast Offerings”. This money is used to help care for the poor and needy families living in our area.
Why do we fast?
We have been commanded to fast, but that is only a small part of why we do it. The Lord always blesses you when you do what He asks. I have seen this time and again in my life. There is so much we get out of it! Here are just a few of the direct blessings I have seen in my life because of fasting…
- Financial/material blessings: Growing up-my dad would pay a generous fast offering. Having 13 siblings who ate a lot, one blessing we had was that we always had food to eat. There were times when random financial blessings would come as well…like a check at a tight Christmas time from a rich neighbor who just felt like we needed it. I know that those blessings came from paying fast offering.
- Answers to important questions in life as well as the little things that challenge me. Fasting seems to amplify my prayers. Whenever I have something I am struggling with or a major decision to make (ie: marriage, college, # of kids) I fast for that specific purpose. I have found that answers do come through fasting and that they are so AMAZING!!! I have been guided to know where to go to college, how to have funds for things we needed, whom to marry, how many kids to have and when, if I should start a new career, how to help and understand my kids better, and how to do those little hard things that I just can’t seem to accomplish on my own. Whatever the question or need…the Lord answers my heartfelt questions from my fasting and prayers.
- Insights/Wisdom-As we turn our lives over to the Lord, He gives us so much wisdom! I love the incredible things and lessons that I learn and understand through fasting.
- Closeness to God-If you are feeling distanced from Him, fasting is a sure way to get closer to Him. Fasting is a great way to let go of the worldly and focus on Him. In my experience, it is putting Him first before all else, following His example and doing what He asked. That always makes that gap between us (that I create) seem so much smaller.
- Knowledge that the Lord loves me. It shouldn’t surprise me that the answers that come to me are meant for me specifically, but the Lord knows me and as I fast. His answers are directed to me it is clear that He knows me specifically as His daughter and loved one.
- Increased sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Fasting opens the spiritual communications with heaven. I can feel His power in my life so much stronger when I am fasting!
- Peace through trials. Peace, comfort, and joy are some of the greatest blessings I feel through fasting. If you don’t feel those things in your life, fast to feel them. You will.
- Helps our Spirit master our body. Fasting is always hard on me. I LOVE food. I get very HANGRY when I don’t eat. It isn’t easy, but it is always worth it. We are training our bodies to put spirituality over physical needs. Fasting really does help us to accomplish hard things.
- Paying “fast offerings” helps us take care of the poor and needy in our immediate area. I have been a part of the distribution of those funds. People who needed food or clothes were able to get the things they needed. Taking care of their physical needs allows them to feel God’s love in their lives. What a blessing to help them!
- Unity with those people who are fasting with you for a cause and also a closeness to those who you are fasting and praying for. I have felt that love and unity come when I didn’t feel it before the fast. It will help you heal relationships and bring families together.
Fasting can be a challenging for your family. There are some things we have done to help make it an easier time.
- PLAN AHEAD!!! This is huge for me. Put it on your calendar. When will you start fasting and when will you finish? What will you eat/drink beforehand? We like to start on Saturday night after dinner and fast until Sunday dinner. It is usually the first Sunday of the month so I always put it on our calendar so we can plan our Saturday evening activities around the fast. Even our trips. We don’t want to be fasting while coming home from a trip-because we like to snack in the car, so we just schedule the trip on a different week or rearrange what day we fast.
- Eat a filling meal before you start. Make sure that you eat and drink enough during the day before you start. I sometimes need to remind my family during the day before to do this. We like to have a nice, big meal before we start fasting. We used to go out to eat, but found that some meals are very salty and make you even thirstier. Now one of our favorite meals we eat is pasta, a meat, garlic bread, Caesar salad, and of course a yummy dessert! Those carbs really last a long time and we don’t feel as hungry or thirsty while fasting.
- The Sunday meal (to break the fast) is something quick…usually leftovers or breakfast food that can be made fast. I used to make yummy meals that cooked all day, but they smelled up the house and were so distracting!
- Make a list of reasons you are fasting. Knowing the reason why you are fasting helps make it a little bit easier. Talk to your kids about the reasons why you fast. You can fast for a sick loved one, or insights, or help, or finances, or just to show gratitude to the Lord for all that you have. We have fasted for all of those things and more! There is no end to the possible things you need and are struggling with in life. Know that He hears you every time you fast and pray and HE WILL ANSWER YOU in His way and time!
- Start and end your fast with a prayer. Prayer helps our focus of our fast. I also tell my kids to pray every time their stomachs growl. This helps them focus on what is most important and the purpose of their fast.
- Pay generous “Fast Offerings”. Since we are counseled to pay the amount $$$ for the meals we didn’t eat, we like to think of it as what we would pay if we went to a super fancy restaurant and pay that amount instead. I have seen so many financial blessings come from paying fast offerings. It is so amazing how the Lord blesses us!
- Plan Sunday activities to distract the kids so that they aren’t bored and lying around thinking about how hungry they are. Do some family history, serve someone, look at family pictures together and tell stories about when they were little, read scriptures together or watch a video about the Savior.
- You may need to do a partial fast. When I was nursing and couldn’t do a complete fast, I would fast from goodies and treats and try to only eat what was needed. If you need to take medicine-just take it with a piece of bread or glass of milk then continue fasting. Doing the best you can is what the Lord wants. Pray with all your might and then fast the best you are able and He will help you do it.
- Younger kids can start to learn to fast by missing one meal or a snack. My kids were all able to do a full fast by the time they were 8. Teach them why you fast before they turn 8 and it will help them when it is time to do it.
- Talk with your kids about your experiences fasting. We have had so many positive experiences with fasting. Sharing your experiences with your kids is a great way to help them build their testimonies of fasting. They will learn why it is so important to fast.
- Fast together for a cause or for a loved one who is struggling. I’ll never forget when we fasted for a relative and they were healed. It was eye opening for the kids to see how fasting and prayer really did work. Plus there is something unifying about fasting together and praying about a common cause.
- Fast to be more positive. I’ve started doing The Forty-Day Word Fast by Tim Cameron. It is so enlightening to learn why we need to eliminate negative words and to speak more positively.
I hope that you will plan a heartfelt fast. Put your trust in Him and He will bless you and your family. He cares about you and your family! Fasting is a sure way to bring hope and peace into your home!