I like to fast. I like the “spiritual over temporal” challenge and the feeling of power that comes through conquering the cravings and desires of the body. But there’s a catch…I’ve heard it said that “fasting without prayer is merely starvation.” I believe this. Fasting for me is a spiritual experience and not a tool I can use to lose weight. In fact it seems that every time I fast, I usually don’t lose any weight and have even gained a few ounces, as at the “break fast” meal I tend to eat as many calories as I would have throughout the day!
So this type of fasting is defined by the Guide to the Scriptures as:
To voluntarily refrain from eating or drinking for the purpose of drawing closer to the Lord and requesting his blessings. When individuals and groups fast, they should also pray to understand God’s will and to develop greater spiritual strength. Fasting has always been practiced by true believers.
How does it work? For me, I can only get through a 24-hour fast comfortably if I invoke Divine Assistance in the venture. When I am prayerfully fasting, I rarely even feel hungry or think about food. On the other hand, If I am just going without food, I get very hungry after about 4 hours!
I’ve been reading the book, The Infinite Atonement, by Tad R. Callister, and came across some interesting insights into how fasting works.
Fasting…does much more than make us hungry; it does more than refine our spirits; it has within it a certain inherent motivational power that can change and soften the hearts of others, particularly when they know we are fasting for them…In the words of the missionary evangelist, E. Stanley Jones, suffering has ‘an intense moral appeal.’ Jones once asked Mahatma Gandhi as he sat on a cot in an open courtyard of Yeravda jail, “‘isn’t your fasting a species of coercion? ‘ ‘Yes,’ he said very slowly, ‘the same kind of coercion which Jesus exercises upon you from the cross.'” (Callister, Tad R., Infinite Atonement, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah 2000. page 213)
As a Mormon, I fast regularly on the first Sunday of every month, but for times of special need, I have fasted every Sunday for months, or periodically as situations arise wherein I could use some extra blessings from heaven.
Total Investment: The cost of the two meals not eaten each month are donated as an offering to be used to help those in need. You could be nit-picky about it and say an egg and toast costs about $2.00 and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich costs about $2.50 and donate about $5, but we are encouraged to give a “generous” fast offering to relieve the burdens of those less fortunate. We typically give about $50-100/month.