What it means to fast
Mormons fast once a month, on the first Sunday of the month. We go without food and drink for 24 hours and donate our money that we would’ve used for meals (and more if we desire) to the Church’s welfare program that will help those in need. We fast and pray for help beyond our physical reach, for ourselves and for people who may be struggling, who may be sick or may make important decisions. Other people of faith fast — the Jews on Tisha B’Av. Many Christians fast.
Fasting requires two things:
1. Faith in the unseen, unknown spiritual side of life. Faith in a God that is real, faith in a savior who cares about you and knows you. Faith that going without food and drink is miraculous, as when the apostles were told that they needed more strength through fasting before they could bless the sick.
2. Control over what you see and know — you choose not to eat that delicious hot out-of-the oven chocolate chip cookie. You choose not to focus on the physical things in this life — like sports, video games, or shopping for that perfect dress. You choose not to focus on the empty bowl — that later will be filled with blessings.
These two things are equally difficult in a world where we have so much at our fingertips. And most of it seems the product of man’s intellect and innovation. Life is sophisticated and we no longer look at scientific discoveries or erupting volcanos as the voice of God.
Man is proud and claims power over all these things — innovation and destruction. We create iphones and we cause climate change. These are things we, as a general public believe. But even though we think we control all these things, very few people control their appetites — we have been taught that we deserve everything we want, and we choose not to go without. Ask a nation to fast for a day, how many would do so? Watch the looting after a storm, and you will find people who say they deserve 30 play stations.
Faith is difficult. We have become a people that only believe in what we see. I am always offended by the Missouri license plates that tout, we are the “show-me state.” My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Schwab used to say to the class, “I’m from Missouri, show me!” She wouldn’t believe a student unless he could show her some physical evidence.
Yet, Faith is a power that people exercise unknowingly. They plan for the weekend, they plant seeds in hopes they will grow. They start businesses in hopes they will thrive. Faith in God is similar. We don’t see the fruits right away. And I think too often when the miraculous occurs, we attribute it to man, forgetting and not acknowledging that God guided us to the people or the path that healed us, or provided that job.
We are a society focused on ourselves, but we have neglected to focus on the part of us that is spiritual. The part of us that will never die, that goes on to live after our physical body returns to the dust. Our spirits need to be taught, controlled and brought back into that sphere in which God lives and operates.
Fasting has physical and spiritual benefits. Because our lives our intertwined in the physical and spiritual. Our spirit resides in our physical body. God works with both. And maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to see both of those aspects in our life on earth. I have fasted and seen miracles, I have fasted and still wait for those miracles. I have fasted for strength over the physical and joined with my brothers and sisters on the first presidential debate. Today, I am fasting for Mitt and Ann Romney.
“A new website, romneyfast.org, also the brainchild of private citizens – and not a church-sanctioned effort – asks people to fast and pray for Romney and his wife Ann this Sunday before America goes to the polls. ” (CNN)
My nephew just texted me this photo: