Sunday, December 10, 2017

Step 3 - Fasting and Prayer

“They did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God”
(Helaman 3:35).

How can fasting strengthen your ability to yield your heart to God and abstain from addiction?

What constitutes an "honest fast?" We talk about an honest tithe--but what is an honest fast? The lord wants us to be honest in our sacrifices. Consider the widow's mite--she was being simultaneously honest about how much she could spare (almost nothing), and honest about how she felt about sacrifice (willing to make great sacrifice in order to support the Lord's Kingdom).  The rich man was being dishonest about how much he could give (he could have given much more), and he was being dishonest about why he was giving (to be seen of men).

Think about "Honest home teaching," and what that looks like--honesty in sacrifice helps keep my mind and heart focused on where it should be (on the needs of my home teaching family, on the needs of the beggar, on the needs of those I'm serving).

So, an honest fast--what does that look like?

  1. Two full meals--24 hours. But how? Start the fast on Saturday afternoon or evening after dinner?
  2. Preparation--thinking ahead and planning how to make the fast work.  
  3. Prayerful consideration of what you need to be fasting for.
  4. Positive attitude during fast (fasting doesn't help if you simply isolate yourself or get angry at everyone. Controlling the discomfort of the fast is part of the spiritual lesson.
  5. It isn't an honest fast if we're binging before or after.
  6. Pay a generous fast offering.

The idea of an honest fast offering vs a generous fast offering is an interesting one.  We're not asked to pay a 'generous tithe,' because a tithe is always 10 percent; but we are specifically asked to pay a generous fast offering.  

So what does 'generous sacrifice' look like as compared to 'honest?'

If addiction is rooted in fear, doubt, and self-consciousness, then fasting can help cultivate faith in God, and faith in ourselves to maintain strength over the natural man.

Consider the importance of praying in the moment of temptation, and write about how prayer will strengthen your humility and your faith in Christ.

Prayer...so easy to forget, so easy to slide over. But it really is about humility. Do I consider myself weak enough that I need God's support? I know I need it, but do I remember that I need it?  

How strong is your willingness to yield your heart to God instead of yielding to addiction in the moment of temptation?

The answer to this question depends a great deal on other factors--how much sleep I've had; how stressful life has been lately; how long its been since my wife and I have been intimate, and what has gotten in the way, for instance.  Temptation comes in moments of pain; frustration, boredom, anger--and such temptation can sneak up on me, or I can feel simmering for days or weeks. Really though, I am most willing to yield my heart to God in the earliest stages of temptation.  If I can say "No Way!" to temptation when it first emerges, and then tell someone about it, I end up doing really well.  Perhaps prayer can be a way to report to God in the same way that I report to my Bishop.