I’ve been studying the young women lesson, “Why do we fast?” and it reminded me of a journal entry I wrote last year after I had completed a fast (in our church we voluntarily go without food and drink at least once a month). This was a time when I felt like I came to a better understanding of why we fast. Hope it helps!
“Today I decided to fast longer than the usual short and pretty insignificant fast of skipping breakfast and stuffing my face as soon as I get home from church.
I decided to really complete the two meals of fasting.
Part of me resisted it because I have a very hard time functioning without food. I get grumpy and when I am grumpy I’m short, reactive, impatient, and mean. And I end up thinking to myself, how is fasting a spiritual experience if I don’t have the spirit at all?? Why are we asked to fast if it ends up being a negative thing for me?
Well you know that scripture that says,
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: (Matt 7:7)”
It’s true. (See receiving personal revelation post)
After thinking about it, I figured one of the reasons we are asked to fast is because we are giving up our natural desires and letting our spirit conquer and be in charge. I learned that my experience with fasting was basically never getting to the ‘let the spirit be in charge’ part because my body was just too consumed with the fact that it was hungry and grumpy. I was letting my body take the reins because it does by default when I am hungry; and it becomes exceedingly difficult to take over again until I get fed! But I needed to win this time. Once I realized the real war that was raging: body vs. spirit, I knew I could win.
After I realized this dilemma in my fast, I knew how to better approach it. Today I decided that I would succumb to having the spirit instead of giving into my natural human urges. It didn’t start off well. It was end of daylight saving time, which sounds like it was a good thing because of the extra hour. But that knowledge of extra hour made us sleep in and take our sweet time while getting ready to go to church.
We were late. I was hungry and irritable and snarky at my husband and impatient with my kids. I felt myself getting worked up. But I caught it before it got crazy. I reminded myself of my goal. Even though almost every part of me had no desire and it seemed impossible that I could actually get over the starving/grumpy aspect of fasting, I chose to do what I could to stay calm and choose the spirit. And I kid you not, magical things happened that day. Magic that may have not been realized by anyone else but me, but magic nonetheless. I was awakened to things I would not have realized had I not been fasting.
I was very prompted to bear my testimony. Even though I’m happy to bear my testimony, it can be an intense experience, and many times it is just more comfortable NOT bearing it. But when you know, you know, and so I did it. I did it because I knew that the Heavens and my spirit really wanted me to express those those things lying deep within my heart. I talked about the war in heaven and how it hasn’t ended. Each day we choose whom we will serve.
Each moment of every day we decide if we choose the spirit or not. If we succumb to anger or love. Self pity or self respect. It is about overcoming our human nature and embracing our very real and true divine nature. I know when I choose the spirit, my spirit enlarges and my capacity to keep making those good spiritual choices is strengthened. If we don’t choose God we are choosing to give captivity to the devil. If we aren’t aware of it, we will just choose the default, our human nature, which is actually to serve our natural carnal desires. The war is still RAGING!
Anyway, I felt so much better after that. It was a spiritual release! People thanked me for my testimony (which is actually a really awkward experience for me) but I’m grateful for their compliments.
During the rest of my fast I was happy and full of the spirit. I didn’t feel grumpy or weighed down. Even though I could feel the physical weakness of not eating, my thoughts were not focused on eating or my discomfort. I engaged in activities that could enlarge and feed my soul. I felt ideas and inspiration for my church calling and for life flow freely. I felt more connected to my true self and to my God.”
If you are doing a lesson, here is a handout you could use. Invite them to write answers they find regarding fasting in Isaiah 58:3–12.