The practice of fasting has been a commandment throughout ancient and modern history. Scriptural accounts of fasting abound and prophets today continue to teach this important principle of abstaining from food and sacrificing physical needs and comfort to draw near to the Lord and to serve.
However, fasting would likely not be described by anyone as easy and there are many Latter-day Saints who really struggle to fast each Fast Sunday. No matter what the reason, here are six things to try if fasting seems either impossible or miserable for you.
Study the Doctrine
President Boyd K. Packer once said, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitude and behavior.”
It is likely you know what fasting is and how it is done. You probably know the promised blessings. However, internalizing doctrine requires us to ask hard questions about our relationship with Christ. It also requires us to push against the natural man and that battle can be intense sometimes.
Consistently studying the doctrine of fasting and trying to understand how it affects your relationship with Jesus Christ will help you understand the doctrine. According to President Packer, your attitude and behavior will then change more readily.
Study scriptures on fasting and read the words of modern-day prophets. Talk with friends and family about how fasting has impacted their lives. Take this knowledge to the Lord and apply it to you and your journey towards Christ.
Start Off Small
If you struggle with the physical pangs of hunger, consider starting off your journey to a full 24-hour fast with smaller steps. Fast for one meal. Fast from only food, but drink water. Eat only bread. Think of how you can gradually build up the habit of fasting.
When you try to fast for 24-hours, be patient with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you falter.
It is important to be consistent with your efforts. Building a habit takes time, especially if you decided to only practice your ability to fast once a month on Fast Sunday.
Prepare Spiritually Beforehand
How many times have you gotten to a Saturday night and thought, “Oh no! It’s Fast Sunday tomorrow!”?
Taking some time to prepare during the week leading up to Fast Sunday can bring you to new spiritual heights. Think during the week about what you would like to fast for. Pray throughout the week and make it a focus of your study.
By preparing, we are showing the Lord are commitment and proving it to ourselves. We become much more invested in our fast and we are more likely to feel spiritually uplifted by it.
What Is Your Part?
If you have nothing to do on Fast Sunday but sit around and think about how hungry you are, fasting is sure to be miserable. We can beat the fasting blues and make our fast more powerful by considering how we can do our part in answering our own fast.
For example, if you are seeking a blessing of healing, you can spend our Fast Sunday serving others or serving ourselves. If you are trying to receive an answer, you can spend time studying the problem out in your heart and your mind.
As we do all we can to connect with God, our fast will endear us to him.
Fast from Something Else
There are many who cannot fast due to physical restrictions, such as illness or pregnancy. At such times, it is important to remember a line from the beloved hymn, The Spirit of God:
“Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.”
If you are unable to fast from food and water (or if you’re really, really struggling with fasting), try sacrificing something else important. It can be a nap, wearing comfy clothes, your cell phone, or media. Show Heavenly Father your willingness to give up something in order to be closer to him.
Don’t Wait Until Fast Sunday
Fasting is meant to be an intensely personal experience with Christ. We pour out our souls to him and give up something so essential to life because we need him and love him. If you find a day where you have a desire to fast or feel more able to do so, go for it. Don’t wait until Fast Sunday.
You may feel stronger on other days. You may be in greater need in the middle of the month. Try not to make fasting a check box principle that you only think about once a month. Make it a tool to bring you to Christ in a completely vulnerable way.
What has helped you find more joy in your fast? Share in the comments below.