Dear 100 Hour Board,
What are some ways to make a fast spiritually nutritious in spite of whatever "real-life" obligations you may have to do during a fast (like school, work, errands, or even just relaxing?) Whether you fast on a weekday or a weekend, sometimes life can get in the way really fast and before you know it, you've spent your entire fast abstaining from food but not pursuing anything spiritually meaningful.
-My Name Here
Dear Your Name Here,
The biggest thing for me is remembering that I'm fasting, and remembering why. I might be on a pretty low level as far as fasting goes, but that's the biggest thing for me. I make sure to take as many opportunities as I can to remember that I'm fasting and why. If I have time, I ponder on the purpose of the fast, read some scriptures, or do something else to remind myself. Usually I use every time I want food as a concrete reminder of my fast. It works pretty well because I constantly want food, because, well, that's what fasting is.
Besides that I certainly agree that preparation for the fast is extremely important, and will have a big impact on the efficacy of your fast.
Keep it real,
Having a spiritually meaningful fast is really rewarding and brings amazing blessings. The issue is that, as you have noticed, it can also be hard. For the longest time I didn't really understand fasting. For most of my mission I never really understood fasting or what was so great about it. I fasted a lot, but many times it never really made a difference and I wondered whether it was really worth it. Despite fasting being a struggle for me, I have had some amazing experiences with fasting! Two in particular come to mind, and here is what I saw as being the difference.
- Fasting for the right thing: Sometimes we fast for things that really don't make a lot of sense. For example, as a missionary I would pray that my investigators would get baptized. Although it is good to want others to accept the gospel, praying about it in a way that is asking God to take away their agency isn't going to be fruitful. I found that prayers such as "please help this person feel the Spirit as we teach" or "I'm not asking you to take away my temptations, but I'm trying my best, would you please give me strength?" have been much more effective because they aren't making demands as much as asking for help
- Reading short scriptures about fasting: You might not have time to dive deep into the scriptures, but reading 1-2 short scriptures about fasting from the topical guide before you fast would be a good way to start. I've found that reading a verse or two reminds me of the power of fasting and the power of God in general. It helps boost my faith and makes fasting more meaningful for me personally.
- Sincere Prayer: The most powerful fasts for me have been the ones preceded by the most sincere prayers. They have been lay-it-all-on-the-line-prayers. Most of them have gone a bit like this "Hey, I've done everything I can. I've been trying at this for weeks. I've been praying. I've been studying my scriptures. I've been trying my hardest. I've done everything I can think of but I just can't do it. I need Thee so much. I trust thee. I know that thou canst do all things. I'm willing to accept thy will, but I really need thy help." Even though you might not have time to mediate, or go to the temple, or study the scriptures, don't underestimate the simple sincerity of prayer. God understands our needs and will bless us if we do what we can. He doesn't require more than we can give.
- Small reminders: One thing that helps me have a more spiritual fast is just short reminders of what I'm fasting about. Looking at a picture of the person you're fasting for, or listening to a favorite hymn can help.
It might take you a while to master the art of meaningful fasts (I certainly haven't), but it will be well worth it. Hope this helps!
Happy Fasting! Peace,
PREPARE. I mean, everything that Tipperary said but also PREPARE. I know life gets in the way but if you prepare properly you won't have to pursue your fast. I promise-- your fast will pursue you.
The following is just one way to do it, but I have found that the planning and forethought create a special place in your brain for the purpose of the fast and it helps a lot:
- Pray nightly leading up to the fast.
- Begin your fast the night before. Be aware of what time you eat dinner and stop eating for the rest of the night. You can eat again at that same time the next day. 24 hours homie.
- When you feel the hunger pains, don't tighten your belt. Use it as a trigger for you to pray about your purpose. (Old tip but it has been my most favorite practical advice on fasting with power)
Fasting works. Really really works. I believe it can be used to literally demand an answer from God. I know we're not supposed to boss him around but He kinda said we could so I think it works out.
Bless you for taking fasting seriously. It's just huge.