“46 Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.”
1. Because I have been given much I too must give
Because of Your great bounty Lord each day I live
I shall divide my gifts from You
With ev’ry other that I view
Who has the need of help from me
2. Because I have been sheltered fed by Your good care
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share
My glowing fire my loaf of bread
My roof’s safe shelter overhead
That someone may be comforted
3. Because love has been lavished so upon me Lord
A wealth I know that was not meant for me to hoard
I shall give love to those in need
Shall show that love by word and deed
Until my thanks be thanks indeed
*For Young Children*
Read and share “Fasting for Gandma” by Wendy Ellison (from the friend) and discuss the ways in which you can receive blessings by fasting. Give your testimony of fasting and share how it has blessed your life.
I didn’t know as much about fasting when I was seven as I do now that I’m eight. Oh, I knew what fasting was, but I didn’t really understand what it meant until one day when my parents called a family meeting.
“Grandma will be having surgery, and she needs our help,” Mom explained. “Your aunts and uncles and all of your cousins who are old enough will join us in a special fast.”
“A fast!” I gasped.
I love Grandma and really wanted to help her, but I’m a growing boy. Eating is one of my favorite things to do. It’s hard for me to go without food for two minutes, so I didn’t know if I could go without two whole meals! Couldn’t I send Grandma a get-well card or visit her at the hospital? I would even weed her garden. That would be as good as fasting, wouldn’t it?
“Who would like to join our fast?” Mom asked.
Both of my sisters raised their hands. “Sure,” I thought, “it’s easier for them. They have more practice.” Of course Mom and Dad would fast, too. They’ve been fasting for so long they’re practically experts. My brother wouldn’t have to fast because he’s only two.
“When would we start?” I asked.
“Tomorrow night,” Dad replied. “Grandma’s surgery is scheduled for the next morning. We’ll close our fast at dinner that night.”
I thought carefully. Watching all my classmates go to lunch without me would be tough.
Then I remembered some of the great things Grandma does for me. She always gives me treats from her cookie jar. She gives the best hugs, and she prays for me. Swallowing hard, I raised my hand.
“Good,” Mom said with a smile. “I’m glad you’re all willing.”
Before we started our fast the next evening, my family gathered for prayer and asked Heavenly Father to bless Grandma.
For a while after dinner I was fine, especially if I didn’t look at the food in our pantry. But after a couple of hours, my stomach started to grumble. I grumbled, too.
“Dad, I don’t think I can wait until tomorrow to eat,” I moaned.
Dad is pretty smart. He says things in a way I can understand.
“Son, I know it’s difficult for a boy like you to fast,” Dad said. “But Heavenly Father has told us that fasting is a good way to receive extra help. We hope that if we show faith in Him by fasting and praying, He’ll bless Grandma to have a successful surgery and get well. Do you think you can try something for me?”
“If I have the strength,” I mumbled.
“Whenever you feel hungry, think of the reasons you’re fasting. Remember Grandma. If you do, I believe you’ll be able to make it to the end of the fast.”
The next day I tried what Dad said. Every time my stomach growled, I thought about Grandma and how much I wanted Heavenly Father to bless her. It wasn’t easy, but I made it all the way to the end, just like my dad said. Even though I was hungry, I felt good inside.
Everything worked out OK. Grandma is better, and she still has treats for me in her cookie jar. After her surgery, people did lots of things to help her get better, like bringing her dinner and stopping by to visit. I even made her a get-well card. But in my heart I know that nothing helped as much as fasting for Grandma.
Discuss the ways in which you can receive blessings by fasting. Give your testimony of fasting and share how it has blessed your life.
*For All Family Members*
Read and summarize “Fasting with Power” by Elder Shayne M. Bowen and discuss the ways in which you can receive spiritual power from fasting. Give your testimony of fasting and share how it has blessed your life.
Fasting is a principle of power. It changes lives.
What if there were a way to overcome our habits, addictions, and burdens? What if there were a way to gain sufficient confidence in the Lord that you could call down the powers of heaven? What if there were principles you could teach your loved ones that, if applied, would allow them to overcome personal weaknesses and draw closer to God?
As we properly understand and live the law of the fast, these desired blessings can be ours.
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6).
Our Father will free us from the bands of wickedness, He will lift our heavy burdens, and He will let the oppressed go free. In fact He promises to empower us to break every yoke. What an enabling promise, to have the power to break every yoke!
Proper and consistent fasting can help us overcome sins, bad habits, and addictions. Is there any of us who would not want to be freed from the personal burdens we carry? Fasting allows us to avail ourselves of this cleansing and purifying power.
The key is to develop the faith and spiritual strength necessary to receive the blessings of fasting. How do we do that?
Developing Spiritual Strength
To develop spiritual strength, we need to do our part. If we are not willing to work and be obedient, we should not expect the miracle. In my experience, miracles are always found through obedience and hard work.
A person who can discipline himself to fast on a regular basis in the way God has designed can resist every temptation, overcome any burden, and become free from any yoke.
Paul said, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
An omniscient Father in Heaven has provided “every needful thing” (D&C 88:119) so that His children can call upon Him with confidence and feel His love. He provides tools to allow us to overcome the temptations that beset “the natural man” (Mosiah 3:19). One of the most powerful and often-neglected tools that God has given us is the law of the fast.
As we better understand and use this tool as Father in Heaven intended, it will change our lives. We will then be able to go to the Lord in confidence and call down the powers of heaven.
My desire is to help each of us understand and receive the blessings and power that God intends to give us through the exercise of this powerful tool. A true fast, however, requires more than just going without food, as the following principles illustrate.
Principle 1: A generous fast offering blesses others.
When we bless others, God blesses us. Isaiah teaches the principle of fast offerings. He teaches us that to receive promised power and blessings, we must not only fast but also care for the poor and needy.
We qualify for God’s promised blessings and power as we care for all of His children in accordance with the fast He has chosen. “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:7).
Isaiah 58:10 teaches the same fast offering principle: “And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday.”
Principle 2: Fasting invites enlightenment and the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
The Lord promises not only the power to overcome all of our sins but also light, health, and righteousness in our lives. And, just as with the children of Israel, He promises that His glory will surround and protect us.
“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward” (Isaiah 58:8).
In the following verses we receive the promise that He will hear our prayers. We can approach Him with complete faith and confidence. Our hunger will be satisfied with the bread of life; our thirst will be quenched with the living water that never fails.
“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; …
“And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isaiah 58:9, 11).
Principle 3: Fasting helps us subdue the natural man.
Fasting requires discipline. Fasting helps us accomplish one of the vital purposes of life: developing self-mastery.
King Benjamin referred to this self-mastery as overcoming the natural man. He taught that the natural man is an enemy to God, always has been, and ever will be. If we don’t overcome the natural man in this life and become “a saint through the atonement of Christ” (Mosiah 3:19), we will never live with our Father in Heaven again. Our physical bodies are created in such a way that we can have a spiritual victory over the natural man each time we properly fast.
“When a person starts a fast, biochemical adjustments begin in the bloodstream to compensate for the lack of food. A carbohydrate substance known as glycogen is released from storage areas in the liver and the muscles. The body uses glycogen as food to keep cells supplied with energy. After 24 hours this food source is used up, and another source of energy is needed.
“Dr. Siegfried Heyden of Duke University’s Department of Community andFamily Medicine says when this happens, the body starts looking for other energy sources. ‘The first thing happening after a 24-hour fast is the breakdown of fat cells. And these fat cells, when they break down, produce ketone bodies, as they are called. And these ketone bodies seem to have an effect on our psyche in that they make us no longer hungry.’”1
After 24 hours without food or drink, the body (the natural man) submits to the spirit (the spiritual man). When the spiritual man is victorious, we experience greater sensitivity to the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Principle 4: Fasting intensifies prayer.
In the scriptures I have found at least 49 references to fasting—25 of those link fasting to prayer. Proper fasting magnifies our ability to pray, study, and teach.
Principle 5: Fasting prepares us to bear testimony.
President Henry B. Eyring has taught:
“The fast also helps us to feel humble and meek so that the Holy Ghost may more easily be our companion. By our fast, we both keep our covenant to care for others and we prepare to keep our covenant to bear testimony.
“Those who have prepared carefully for the fast and testimony meeting won’t need to be reminded how to bear testimony should they feel impressed to do it in the meeting. They won’t give sermons nor exhortations nor travel reports nor try to entertain as they bear witness. Because they will have already expressed appreciation to people privately, they will have less need to do it publicly. Neither will they feel a need to use eloquent language or to go on at length.”2
Principles of the Fast.
How do we incorporate these principles into our fast? Consider the following suggestions, which could help us put off the natural man and claim the promised blessings and miracles from our Father in Heaven:
- As a fast day approaches, think about a purpose for your fast. That purpose could be as simple as expressing thanks.
- Begin your fast by praying. Talk with Heavenly Father and share with Him the purpose of your fast (see D&C 59:14).
- Fast for two meals, or about 24 hours. (Those with medical concerns should follow doctors’ orders). Whenever hunger pains come, use them as a reminder to pray again about the purpose of your fast.
- Give a generous fast offering.
- If you feel impressed to do so, bear your testimony in fast and testimony meeting.
- During the time you would have spent preparing food and eating, engage in worthy pursuits such as studying the scriptures, writing in your journal, or serving others.
- After Sunday meetings, end your fast by praying.
- Commit to being a better person, and make plans with God on how you will improve.
Fasting is a principle of power. It changes lives. I testify that God is mindful of the fasting and prayers of all of His children, young and old. He loves us. He wants us to return to His presence. He is our father,Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and His Atonement is real. They have provided “every needful thing” (D&C 88:119) to allow us to “break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6) and return home.
Discuss the ways in which you can receive spiritual power from fasting. Give your testimony of fasting and share how it has blessed your life.
Strawberry Pastry Bites or Fried Zucchini Chips
Strawberry Pastry Bites
- 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed for 40 minutes.
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- (about) 3/4 cup strawberry cream cheese
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced
- a few Tbs. honey
- fresh thyme leaves for garnish (optional, but really really good)
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Roll out the pastry dough on a floured work surface. Using a cookie cutter, cut the sheet into small squares.
- Transfer squares onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with the egg wash, and bake for 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
- Let the squares sit about 5 minutes while you slice the strawberries.
- Spread the strawberry cream cheese over each puffed square, and top with sliced strawberries. Drizzle honey over each bite and garnish with fresh thyme.
- Eat every single one of them before anyone notices.
Fried Zucchini Chips
- 2 medium-sized zucchini, finely sliced on a mandolin (I used #2 setting)
- 1 Tbs. coarse salt (plus more for sprinkling at the end)
- 1/2 cup milk (or more if needed)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- enough canola oil to cover 2 inches of a deep skillet
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
- Sprinkle the salt over the sliced zucchini and let them rest in a colander or a plate for about 15 minutes. This will remove some of the moisture from the zucchini. Then arrange in a single layer on some paper towels and pat dry.
- Heat the oil until very hot. I don’t even really know a temperature, but like Satan’s gym hot.
- Pour the milk into a shallow dish. Combine the flour, onion powder, garlic salt and cayenne in another shallow dish, tossing to incorporate.
- Then it’s just an assembly line. You’ll dip the zucchini into the milk, then into the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. And then into the hot oil they go. Fry for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until all slices are good and fried. (don’t overcrowd) I didn’t photograph the frying because I’m a total sissy.
- Serve chips with another good sprinkle of coarse salt and garnished with chopped fresh parsley. You can’t eat just one. JUST TRY.
- Invite your family to come to the dinner table. Before you eat, ask the following question: What is the difference between fasting and going hungry? Consider sharing Dr. Heyden’s comments on physical changes that come after fasting for 24 hours.
- During dinner review the five principles of fasting. Consider choosing one of the suggestions in “Principles of the Fast” and implementing it into your next fast.
- Discuss with family members what can make fasting difficult and share ideas of how to make it a positive experience. Conclude by listing the blessings that come from fasting.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.