Gospel Principles #25: Fasting

by Kelly Ann

As Fasting often gets tied to lessons about Tithing, I think this lesson provides a good opportunity to talk about Fasting in detail.  I have supplemented my outline, which still relies heavily on the manual, with principles from a conference talk entitled Fasting with Power given in April 2009 by Shayne Bowen of the Seventy.  As typical for all my outlines, I have focused on questions from the manual, the conference talk, or elsewhere to generate discussion.  Truthfully, there is too much here to incorporate into one lesson so would pick sections depending on the class.

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What is the difference between fasting and going hungry?  What is the purpose of fasting?  [After asking for general responses, I would focus on the main principles from Elder Bowen’s talk asking how does fasting do each of these things.]

  • “Principle 1: A generous fast offering blesses others.
  • Principle 2: Fasting invites enlightenment and the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
  • Principle 3: Fasting helps us subdue the natural man.
  • Principle 4: Fasting intensifies prayer.
  • Principle 5: Fasting prepares us to bear testimony.”

How can we draw spiritual strength from fasting and prayer (Alma 17:3, 4)?  What is the connection of fasting to prayer?  How do we make fasting a joyful experience? How does our overall attitude affect our experience?  What are specific examples of appropriate reasons to fast?  Discuss the manuals examples of for blessings (Isaiah 58:8–9, Matthew 6:18, Mosiah 27:22–23), for increasing testimony (Alma 5:46), for comfort (Alma 28:4–6), for humility (Helaman 3:35), and for ourselves, not others (Matthew 6:16–18).  How can fasting increase our spiritual power to resist temptations? to receive revelation? to do righteous acts?

What other examples do we have from the scriptures of fasting?  What can we learn from Christ’s example?  What can we learn from other faiths approach to fasting?  (http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/2001/02/Fasting-Chart.aspx) (http://www.tariqjamil.org/Forum/ramadhaan/fasting-in-different-religions/?wap2)

As Latter-Day Saints, how does our approach to fasting differ? Is there a communal benefit to fasting?  When should we fast? What is the purpose of Fast Sunday?  Who should fast and what should fasting consist of?  Does it have to entail going without food and drink?  How have you benefited from sharing your testimony in fast and testimony meeting? How have you benefited from hearing others share their testimonies?  Why are fast offerings important?  Discuss Elder Bowen’s specific points (see talk again) of how we can incorporate all these principles into fasting?

  • “As a fast day approaches, think about a purpose for your fast. That purpose could be as simple as expressing thanks.
  • Begin your fast by praying. Talk with Heavenly Father and share with Him the purpose of your fast (see D&C 59:14).
  • Fast for two meals, or about 24 hours. (Those with medical concerns should follow doctors’ orders). Whenever hunger pains come, use them as a reminder to pray again about the purpose of your fast.
  • Give a generous fast offering.
  • If you feel impressed to do so, bear your testimony in fast and testimony meeting.
  • During the time you would have spent preparing food and eating, engage in worthy pursuits such as studying the scriptures, writing in your journal, or serving others.
  • After Sunday meetings, end your fast by praying.
  • Commit to being a better person, and make plans with God on how you will improve.”

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Links of interest (to other relevant conference talks or blog posts):

LDS Families Focus on Fasting

Sunday School Chapter on the Law of the Fast

The Law of the Fast by Elder Wirthlin (2001)

The Blessings of a Proper Fast by Elder Carl P Pratt

Fast Day by Elder Howard W. Hunter (1985)

Fasting is What? by Larry Hiller (1989)

Fasting: A Gift of Joy by Sheryl Condie Kempton (1978)

A Vision of the Law of the Fast by Presiding Bishop Victor L. Brown (1977)

http://graceforgrace.com/2009/05/12/mormon-prophet-says-abstaining-from-water-in-fast-not-necessary-science-says-its-healthier/

Note: This lesson was originally written for the Relief Society audience in 2010-2011, when the Gospel Principles manual was temporarily used as curriculum for Relief Society, Elders Quorum and High Priest classes. The lesson may require adaptation for Gospel Principles classes, which are mixed gender and primarily serve new members and investigators of the church.

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1 Response

  1. EmilyCC says:

    Thanks for all these resources, Kelly Ann! And, I love your questions about tying fasting into testimony meetings; I had never thought about that connection in such an explicit way.

    I might add that if I was teaching the lesson, I would ask people to share stories about fasting (or not being able to fast). I know when I was in high school and college, I couldn’t fast because of a gastro-intestinal illness I had. At first, I was glad for the excuse, but after a few years, I missed the clarity and spirituality that often accompanies fasting.

    When I was able to fast again, I had a renewed appreciation for this ritual (that I often forget now that it’s been a few years of being “back on the wagon” 🙂 ).

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