Sunday, March 12, 2017

To Fast or Not to Fast, That is the Question

My kids are growing up, if you haven't noticed.  I've been writing this blog for nearly nine years now, which means when I started writing, Guy was 2, Scarlett was 1, and Autumn was in the womb!  My how we've changed.  We've gone from learning to walk and talk, to braces and first ventures into noticing members of the opposite sex!  My, my, my.

We've also become our very own little people, with opinions of our own for sure, and wills of our own, definitely.  And we've had to learn to back up and give them each space to explore the God-given agency that we each do have.

One of the areas lately has been fasting...whether or not to do it. 

Now, I'm sure that I wasn't very pro-fasting as a kid either.  It's not even something I'm super great at as an adult, as I've been pregnant a lot over the years, although I do have a testimony of it and have had my own powerful experiences with it.  It's something we all come to, learn to do, develop an understanding of on our own, and in our own time.

For any non-LDS readers of my blog, when I talk about fasting, it is the practice of going without food or drink for typically 24 hours or two meals usually on the first Sunday of every month  (*although you can do it as needed for your own special reasons).  We try to fast for a purpose, starting with a prayer, usually seeking answers to questions, spiritual strength or comfort, etc.  Then we donate the cost of the meals that we've skipped to the church to help those in need.  This is called a "fast offering."  Typically, children don't fast, pregnant people don't fast or people with medical conditions might do a modified fast, but children over the age of 8, who have been baptized, start to consider fasting as they are able.

So, fasting helps us exercise dominance of our spirit over the urges of our body, which helps us overcome temptation of many varieties.  And usually it is easier to feel spiritual promptings when we are fasting, because of the sacrifice we've made.  I often fast when I am preparing to give a talk in church, as it helps me clear my mind to receive revelation.

Anyway, on the flip-side, it feels funny to try to convince my kids to fast, "Yeah, try fasting!  You'll love it!!"  I mean, who loves NOT eating food???  Probably not many of us!

It's something that they really can't take my word for...until they make a decision to faithfully put forth an effort, and perhaps even long after that, they won't really get it.  So, we just keep encouraging them to try, even for a small amount of time.  *This Sunday, 10 minutes was all Scarlett could go, before she forgot she was fasting and popped one of the baby's cheerios in her mouth, then promptly spit it out!!

So, anyway, I thought it was cute how Scarlett summed up her decision to fast last week. 

You all know our love of whiteboards around here, well, Scarlett created sort of a flow-chart of her decision to fast.  (pictured above)  Perhaps it'll help you as you decided whether or not to fast!

How have you helped your children learn to fast?  I'm interested to hear and learn from your experiences!


  1. Wow--Scarlett really does look grown up!

    Fasting is so hard. Like, every month. I've had 4 teenage boys and you would think fasting is the WORST thing that could ever be asked of them. But, as they've grown, and as I've born testimony of my experiences with fasting and prayer, and we've had Family Home Evening and Church lessons on it, and as we've had opportunities to fast together as a family for specific things, their testimonies of fasting have grown as well. Yes, there are some Fast Sundays where, after hearing them whine and cry and beg for food because they just "can't" fast, I take a deep breath and tell them that of course they have their agency. But 9 times out of 10 they choose to fast anyway. And then there are days (or even weeks) when I've seen one of them really in need of an answer or direction, or they have a friend they're concerned about, and they voluntarily fast on some regular day (or over the course of a few days) for their own purposes.

    I think in some ways, we have to develop "fasting muscles." They're like core muscles, that, if strong, kick in when we have weak muscles elsewhere. Just as core muscles help support back muscles, "fasting muscles" of faith do the hard work when the rest of our physical beings are weak from hunger.

    I gained an immediate testimony of fasting as soon as I turned eight. My parents had purchased a piano and I really wanted to take lessons but, I was already involved in dance lessons and my parents told me that they couldn't afford for me to do both. I would have to choose one over the other. At age eight I could not fathom how to make that choice. I had just been baptized and it was Fast Sunday and my inspired mother suggested that perhaps that be the first thing I fast over.

    That was the first thing I fasted over and I received a very clear answer (needed to be because I was eight!) that I should quit dancing and begin piano. I cannot even begin to list the ways that one decision has shaped me and shaped my life and blessed me, as well as others. I still have an appreciation for dance to this day, but that truly was not the course for me. And not only did I receive personal, blessed revelation regarding my talents and pursuits, I also received a testimony of fasting and prayer.

    1. That is really an awesome story of how you gained a testimony of fasting and I appreciate your analogy of fasting muscles! I am going to have to use that terminology with my kids. Thank you, Sasha!!

  2. good topic for people of any age to consider...and share their experiences about. A principle of faith and obedience that helps conquer overcome our physical appetites and tune into our spiritual side...