by Blain M. Yorgason
The most common way to fast is by abstaining from both food and water, usually for twenty-four hours. This is an effective way of offering up sacrifice.
But not always does fasting mean going without food and water for a specific period of time.
As a teenage boy I often worked with my father in far flung communities. We ate lunch in restaurants, and soon it became painfully obvious that for one week each month, we drank water instead of soda, I got no chocolate shakes, and there were no other "treats" for either of us. When I complainingly grilled my dad about this, he explained that it was his way of fasting, and that he hoped I would be willing to fast with him.
Of course, I was, mostly, and I learned over time that fasting from food and water made him so ill with migraines that, after much desperate prayer, he had at last felt inspired to fast in this manner (and it was easier if I was doing it with him). This sort of fast is consistent with the counsel of our modern prophets.
President Joseph F. Smith explained,
"The Lord has instituted the fast on a reasonable and intelligent basis. Let it be remembered that the observance of the fast by abstaining 24 hours from food and drink is not an absolute rule, it is no iron-clad law to us, but it is left with the people as a matter of conscience, to exercise wisdom and discretion.In the scriptures I have read of at least two alternatives to the typical fast used by most of us today. One I will mention is what I call the Daniel fast.
"In those days I Daniel was [fasting] three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled" (Daniel 10:2-3)Daniel offered up this fast in order to obtain specific information from the Lord. God responded by sending Daniel a heavenly messenger - Gabriel - with even more than the sought-after revelation.
To determine when and how we should fast or offer up other sacrifice, we who seek purity of heart must obtain the mind and will of God. If through that source we are given directions that seem difficult, and yet if we are certain about the source of our instructions and inspiration, then obedience to the whisperings of the Spirit - the only true option - will bring us great blessings, drawing us ever nearer to the veil behind which we will one day see the face of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
(edited by David Van Alstyne)
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