Gospel Q&A is a series from LDS Daily that strives to answer important gospel questions from readers. Today, we answer the question, “I have type 2 diabetes and because of that I’m not supposed to fast. I feel guilty for not being able to fast. Is there a way for me to fast again? Can I still pay fast offerings even if I don’t fast?”
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Fasting is a powerful gospel principle. Through sacrifice and service, fasting and the paying of fast offerings shows our desire to give up the things of the world in order to connect more intimately with heaven.
I believe if we are unable to fast from food and water that God still provides a way for us to receive the blessings of these principles. The sort of faith needed to make this happen is inherent in this question.
Wholeheartedly, I say do not feel guilty if you are unable to fast! The Lord understands. You can live the principles of fasting without giving up food and water.
The Principle of Sacrifice
In the beloved hymn “The Spirit of God,” there is a line that reads “sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.” For me, the principle of sacrifice is at the heart of fasting. We humble ourselves before God and show trust in Him when we fast. By giving up something that is necessary for life, we are telling the Lord that we know He is the source of true life.
Even if we cannot fast in the traditional way, we can still live the principle of sacrifice. I have struggled for years with intense mental illnesses that make fasting particularly difficult for a number of physical, mental, and emotional reasons. I have found that I can give up other things to show my desire to connect with God. Here are some I’ve tried:
- Technology. We are saturated with technology. Unplug completely for your fast. Don’t watch movies, listen to music, check social media, or play online games. Turn your phone off and leave it off for a set period of time.
- Your favorite foods. I had a missionary companion who could not fast from food and water. However, she made her meals simple. She’d eat simple and plain foods and only what she needed. Her breakfast on Fast Sunday was a slice of bread and a glass of water.
- Sunday clothes. I love changing into comfy clothes after my church meetings. On Fast Sunday, I try to stay in my best clothes to help attune my heart and sacrifice some physical comfort.
- Naps. I also really love Sunday naps. Instead of napping, I try to serve, pray, and spend time doing all I can to commune with God.
- Something meaningful. At the end of the day, we can sacrifice almost anything meaningful to show our desire to fulfill the commandment to fast.
The Poor and Needy
Fasting and fast offerings are tightly interlinked with the Savior’s call to serve the poor and needy. Abstaining from food and water is empty unless we add the spiritual component, which consists of service and intimate worship through prayer. These are things we can do anytime!
Make a concerted effort to serve others on Fast Sunday. Give your fast offering! If anything, a generous fast offering is one way to sacrifice if you aren’t able to physically fast. Look for who needs a friend, reach out to those you minister to, write a letter to a missionary, call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time…the list goes on and on. Following the command to care for those in need is one of the most important ways we can fulfill the law of the fast.
No matter what we face or why the Lord always prepares a way to reap the blessings of commandments we would keep if we could.
Disclaimer: While all of our answers will use scriptures and/or words of modern prophets, we do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We don’t believe any of our answers are comprehensive.