Fasting Without Prayer Is Just Going Hungry

You know how it goes: you’re assigned to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting; the topic being something you are absolutely not fond of. But after it all ends, when you’ve said amen and sat back down in your chair and heaved the most ginormous sigh of relief, you have to admit that this talk was meant just for you; there is now a testimony that most certainly wasn’t there before.

This has happened to me several times but none more pronounced that when I was assigned to speak about fasting. Fasting is such a strange topic to the non-Mormon, with it’s meaning relegated to detoxing or medical tests.  But we regularly fast (or are supposed to) every month. I was almost constantly pregnant or nursing for about ten years. I seriously got out of the habit of fasting. When I weaned my last baby I just couldn’t get into it. Missing two whole meals??? Unthinkable!  But I gave that talk more than two years ago and I have truly developed a love for fasting. Not the actual fasting itself because I love to eat. It’s the power I can feel come into my life that I love.

One of the things that helped me realize how important and powerful fasting is was the realization that even Jesus himself needed to fast in order to have enough power to withstand his atonement and crucifuxion. The Lord who created the Earth! He still needed to fast! If He needed to fast then surely it has a place in my life too.

Says Isaiah: “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?”  What an amazing promise: that through fasting and prayer we will be able to break every yoke: whether those yokes are addictions, sins or just personal weaknesses. Fasting allows us to call down the powers of heaven.

Yes! I need this power!

Joseph B. Wirthlin said at General Conference in 2001 that “fasting and prayer can help develop within us courage and confidence. It can strengthen our character and build self-restraint and discipline. Often when we fast, our righteous prayers and petitions have greater power. Testimonies grow. We mature spiritually and emotionally and sanctify our souls. Each time we fast, we gain a little more control over our worldly appetites and passions.”

How often have we wished the Lord would help us out a little more? That maybe we’re feeling extra lost/tempted/depressed/messed up and just need to feel like God is there. This is how you get that extra help. It’s like a spiritual vitamin. Or maybe a spiritual 5-Hour Power.

Isaiah must have really liked to fast (probably all prophets do). He went on to say that if you fast and pray “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.” (Isa. 58:6–11.)

This promise is offered to everyone who fasts for the right reasons, at the right time, and in the right way. These blessings and promises truly are a cause for rejoicing.

About Hildie

(Blog Team) was born and raised in Detroit, but is happy to call Austin, TX home now. She majored in Art History and Geography at BYU and graduated a week before having her first baby. There have been five more babies since then. Hildie is an avid baker and tries to fatten up the people she loves. After years of "Mommy this", "Mommy that" Hildie is delighted to finally be waking her brain up for some other use.

9 thoughts on “Fasting Without Prayer Is Just Going Hungry

  1. Thanks for this, Jennie. I got out of the fasting habit with all my babies and have never learned to love it again.

    But I need to.

    About a month ago, I talked to my sister on a Monday morning and told her, “I don’t know why, I just feel happier this morning.”

    She exhaled a sigh of relief and said, “I’ve been fasting for you every Sunday. Just so your heart wouldn’t hurt so much. I’ve been waiting for the blessings to kick in.”

    I knew in that moment, my lightened heart was a direct result of her fast. And of course I begged her to keep doing it every Sunday!

    So I really should be better about fasting myself…

  2. I wish I could fast. I really want to participate in that experience, and I’ve tried several times but the result is always a horrendous migraine that lasts for several days, and then I’m a miserably medicated blob until I can break through it. It seems the grass is always greener but I do wish I could have the choice.

  3. I don’t love the actual fasting (especially when I’m feeding goldfish crackers to nursery kids), but I love the changes that happen to me because of fasting. When I’m feeling far far from God, or have major decisions to make, I fast weekly. I’m not always great about making it a full 24 hours, I’ll admit, but I have used this regimen (weekly fasting in combination with intense daily scripture study and prayer) often enough that I know it makes a difference.

    Once, when dealing with some depression and trying to decide whether or not to take medication(and I hesitate to discuss this since I know that so very often the answer to how to handle depression is not this simple, so please know that I understand that medication is VERY often the answer), I was guided to Matthew 17:21 when the Lord is talking to his disciples about why they could not heal a boy with an evil spirit and says, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out save by prayer and fasting.” I felt the spirit prompt me to turn to weekly fasting, daily scripture study and fervent prayer and found many answers to how to regain my equilibrium, along with a gradual ability to handle my life better. When my heart is aching and my mind races with frustrations I can’t seem to control, I do the same thing. The temptations to spiral downward don’t always disappear, but I am taught enough and given enough strength to hang in there.

  4. I was just trying to figure out how to improve osteopenia and that is amazing…I never read it before, although I have read Isaiah 58:11, I am sure. “Make fat thy bones” by fasting. I am really going to ponder about that! :)

    Thanks!

  5. I hated fasting for a very long time. And yes, I’ve been there with no fasting for a long time because of pregnancy, nursing babies, or medical conditions.

    A year or so ago, I started fasting again. And a funny thing happened to me. I was trying to teach my kids about the purpose of fasting as they complained of hunger. I was hungry too. I get migraines when I don’t eat and I felt weak and faint. I had a profound realization at that moment that the physical pain of fasting was something that people, especially women and children feel all over the world every single day from starvation. It was sobering and suddenly I felt like my internal complaints were childish and stupid.

    Really, it changed my whole attitude about fasting. I felt like my fasting had meaning, beyond seeking for personal blessings. When I fast, I think about those who are suffering and I pray for them. It also reminds me to be generous in my fast offering and to be more empathetic to those who go without.

  6. I guess I haven’t got past the “going hungry” stage. Oh, I do pray, but my body is groaning and crying for food long before the time mark I have set for myself.
    However, if I continue to fast every first Sunday, hopefully my body will get the message and shut up so that the Spirit can be heard.

    Glenn

  7. Roberta–I know when I really needed extra help from the Lord I found other ways to fast. For example, I did a month long fast from sugar. That’s a super huge deal for me. I didn’t do it as a diet, just as a way to show my dedication to the Lord and to develop self-restraint.

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