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The Power of Fasting: Drawing Closer to God and Blessing the World

Today’s inspiration is drawn from “The Blessings of a Proper Fast” by Elder Carl B. Pratt Of the Seventy during October 2004.

The Neglected Power of Fasting

Fasting—a practice that has been observed by God’s people throughout history—is often underappreciated in our modern lives. Elder Carl B. Pratt, in his enlightening talk from October 2004, “The Blessings of a Proper Fast,” expresses a concern that many of us either neglect fasting on fast day or do so half-heartedly. Fasting, as Elder Pratt reminds us, is a divine commandment for all members of the Church, encompassing three key elements: abstaining from food and drink for two consecutive meals (24 hours), attending fast and testimony meeting, and giving a generous fast offering.

The Commandment of Fasting: A Brief History

Fasting is not a novel concept; it has always been an integral part of God’s teachings. In our time, it stands as a commandment to all members of the Church. While we may occasionally have specific fasts for personal or family reasons, we are expected to fast on the first Sunday of each month. As Elder Pratt highlights, there is no rigid standard for fasting hours except that it should span 24 hours and two meals.

Why Fasting Matters: A Lackadaisical Approach

Elder Pratt expresses his concern about the casual or indifferent manner in which some of us approach fasting. It’s vital to recognize that fasting is not merely abstaining from food and drink for a set time or paying a fast offering. When done correctly, fasting becomes a spiritual experience that can profoundly impact our lives.

The Power of Fasting with Purpose

One of the key messages Elder Pratt conveys is the importance of fasting with a clear purpose. Instead of merely going hungry for 24 hours, we should identify the reasons behind our fast. This could be a personal or family challenge, the desire to overcome personal flaws or sins, or seeking guidance in our callings within the Church. When we fast with a purpose, we have something substantial to focus on beyond the physical discomfort of hunger.

Fasting and Prayer: A Dynamic Duo

Throughout the scriptures, fasting is often accompanied by prayer. In Matthew 17:19-21, when the disciples were unable to cast out an evil spirit, Jesus explained that such challenges can only be overcome through “prayer and fasting.” Fasting without prayer is merely going hungry; fasting combined with prayer unleashes greater spiritual power.

Elder Pratt encourages us to commence and conclude our fasts with prayer. We should begin by kneeling in prayer as we finish our pre-fast meal, setting our intentions and seeking divine help to accomplish our fasting goals. Similarly, we should end our fasts with gratitude, kneeling before our post-fast meal, thanking the Lord for His assistance during the fast and reflecting on what we’ve learned and felt.

In addition to the initial and final prayers, Elder Pratt reminds us to engage in personal prayer throughout our fast. These prayers serve as continuous connections with our Heavenly Father as we seek His guidance, strength, and blessings.

Involving the Whole Family: Teaching Fasting Principles

While young children may not fast for two complete meals, Elder Pratt underscores the importance of teaching them the principles of fasting. By discussing and planning fasting in a family setting, even the youngest members can comprehend the purpose behind fasting. They can participate in family prayers at the beginning and end of the fast, creating a foundation for future fasting practices.

Elder Pratt’s family encouraged children aged 8 to 12 to fast for one meal, and as they turned 12 and received the Aaronic Priesthood or entered Young Women, they were encouraged to fast for two complete meals.

The Spiritual Blessings of Fasting: Drawing Closer to God

Isaiah 58 beautifully describes the blessings of a proper fast. It’s not merely about abstaining from food; it’s about spiritual growth and service. A proper fast can help us overcome personal flaws and sins, strengthen relationships within our families, and increase our love and empathy for others.

When we fast with the intent of repentance and personal growth, we are striving to “loose the bands of wickedness.” When our fast is focused on teaching and serving others, we aim to “undo the heavy burdens.” If our fast seeks guidance in our callings or missionary efforts, we aspire to “let the oppressed go free.” And when our fast is aimed at reducing selfishness, pride, and worldliness, we endeavor to “break every yoke.”

Embracing Fasting and Service

As we reflect on the wisdom of Elder Carl B. Pratt’s teachings on fasting, let us be inspired to renew our commitment to this sacred practice. May we approach our fasts with purpose and understanding, seeking not only personal growth but also the opportunity to bless the lives of others through our fast offerings. Link to the original: Click Here

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