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The Purpose of Fasting

Our ward doesn’t start until 11.  In our family, we’ve encouraged our children to fast once they are baptized.  My oldest son is ten, and my daughter is eight.  One morning, after the deacons came to our house to collect fast offerings, I caught my son crouching in the kitchen trying to hide a yogurt that he wanted to eat.  I decided that it might be a good time to talk about the purpose of fasting.

One of my favorite scriptures is found in D&C 59.  I asked my son to sit down with me, and pulled up the scriptures on LDS.org

12Â But remember that on this, the aLord‘s day, thou shalt offer thineb oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, cconfessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.

I asked my son if he knew what an oblation was.  He didn’t.  Since I could still see the deacons across the street, I pointed out that oblations are offerings to the Lord, and that deacons accept these offerings for us.

13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy afasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy bjoy may be full.

14 Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.

I asked my son if he was rejoicing.  He shook his head that he was not.  There’s an old saying that “fasting without prayer is starving.”  My son said he was starving.   I asked if he wanted to fast and rejoice.  He didn’t seem particularly enthused.  I said that when we fast, it is important to pray so that it is no longer starving.  About that time, my daughter came in the room.

I then pulled up my post on the history of fast offerings, and we discussed that fasting in the 1850s was a way to help the people starving due to the huge blizzards.  I asked them both if they had anything in particular that they wanted to pray for.  My daughter said she wanted to pray for the poor and the sick.  I thought that was pretty cool.

So, as a new family tradition (we will see how long it lasts) we have started our Fast Sunday mornings with a prayer, and have ended our fasts with prayer.  What has been surprising to me is that they haven’t forgotten about these prayers, even when I have.  It has been pretty cool.


One comment on “The Purpose of Fasting

  1. We also started our children fasting once they had been baptized. Although I have “starved” more times than I should, I sometimes think even a minimum fast, wherein I pay an offering and don’t have much of a purpose, is better than no fast at all. Of course, all the better when I’ve done some soul searching and really put effort into a purpose. Was easier on my mission when life was more scheduled. Much harder with Saturday nights, dates, socials, and other family things that tend to have me eating late, then skipping breakfast and lunch to then eat around 5:00 pm Sunday. I don’t really get hungry anymore, which I think is a bit of a blessing for having at least tried to implement fasting in my life on a consistent basis. Good lesson for your children. They will thank you one day.

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