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To Dilute Our Fasting: A Quandary

By Hildie Westenhaver

Due to General Conference last week our ward will be fasting this Sunday. I’ve had a family issue come up and really need to fast for some of the people I love. I also had a friend ask if I would mind fasting for her. Our local missionaries asked this week that we fast for missionary opportunities.


Fasting or praying for many things makes me very nervous. I feel like praying for several things dilutes the power of it. Almost like fasting and prayer give me a certain portion of concern from our Father in Heaven and if I ask for too many things than I’m using up that portion of concern; almost like it’s a pie and everything I fast or pray for is a slice. So if it’s something really important I want to dedicate that whole pie to the pressing issue.


Another analogy would be that fasting, in particular, is like earning money. Once I’ve earned enough though fasting I can go to the Bank of Heaven and pay for my requests. Do I want to spend all my money I earned fasting on one super important thing? Or do I want to spend smaller amounts of money asking for things that maybe aren’t as important to me? I don’t want to seem like a spoiled kid at Christmas who has a list a mile long of all the presents he wants.


On one hand this feels kind of weird; Heavenly Father is going to help who He wants and do what He wants and my pitiful prayers aren’t going to make that much of a difference. But on the other hand, I want Him to know how important certain things are and maybe only by fasting or praying for that one thing, Heavenly Father will understand what a big deal it is.


Of course Heavenly Father knows it’s a big deal because he can read my mind and see what I’m doing all the time. Which, if you think about it that way, why bother praying or fasting at all since He already knows? But that’s a whole other can of worms!


The more I write about this, the crazier I feel (and probably sound too). But I really don’t know the answer to this. It has bothered me my whole life. Does the request for many things dilute what we ask for? I’d like to know how you feel about this subject. Have you ever wrestled with this idea? Or does prayer and fasting feel like a bounteous, eternal well? How have you arrived at your opinion?

About Hildie Westenhaver

(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.

4 thoughts on “To Dilute Our Fasting: A Quandary”

  1. I have felt this way too at times, but I had a thought while reading your post. Is the Atonement diluted because it applies to all of us? Would it be stronger if Jesus only died for a handful of us? We believe that both God's love and the Atonement are infinite and eternal. We have limited capacity – only so much mental and emotional energy to give at one time, which is why I think we worry about things like fasting for too many important things. But God is not limited in the same ways were are, and so as long as we are fasting and praying with sincere hearts and with real intent (even if we fast and pray for multiple meaningful things), I think God will hear and answer our prayers.

  2. I think that fasting is not a method of convincing God to act. Rather, fasting is a way to emphasize the spiritual part in our lives and discern God's will for the concerns we have, a literal way to put off the natural man.

    That said, we have to focus on a specific issue in our lives and wrestle with God, asking what He wants done, why we want something, what our intentions are. This process brings us to a higher state of spirituality and communion. The process by nature is restrictive to one issue or set of issues, although the process may guide us to change in unexpected and new ways.

  3. Great comments so far. I can totally see the dilemma, but I like the comments others have given above. It's an eternal viewpoint we can't quite grasp in our finite, natural man way. We don't need to offer 10 prayers to express gratitude for 10 different things that we are truly grateful for. One sincere, thoughtful prayer with an adequate amount of time is just as effective.

    I think it may be hard for us (it is for me) to pray/fast about several very important things at once, but not hard at all for the Lord to see our needs and sincerity over each issue. So the burden is more on us to fast for several things sincerely and thoughtfully…

    Thanks for the opportunity to consider something all of us have probably considered!

  4. In simplistic terms, I call it celestial math – multiplication instead of division. Love doesn't decrease or isn't divided because we love more than 1 individual – Father is about abundance and increase and feasting.
    Anything that involves loving, comforting, supporting His children won't be calculated by "mortal math" – that is, subtraction and division.
    I'm sure the more of His children whose lives we're anxiously involved in, opens up even more the powers of heaven. That's the way I visualize Him.


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