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.