My First Fast

Blame it on babies- nursing, pregnant, in utero, babies. At first, I couldn’t figure out how in the world we made it four years and never fasted; then I remembered the babies… For the last four years I have pretty much totally been either nursing or pregnant- and thus not a prime candidate to fast.

Yesterday, not nursing, and not (please!) pregnant, I finally jumped in the water.

Kneeling down on Saturday night with my husband, we opened our fast with a prayer and a purpose, as we have read is proper. Like most things unfamiliar, we felt a little awkward and unsure- but holding hands, took yet another leap into the great, reflective, shrouded pool of Mormondom.

Physical discomforts aside, my impressions of the fast are still forming, and quite interesting. There was an uncanny, very subtle sense of something greater going on than just an acetic denial of physical hunger. It’s nothing I can pin down, or even name to allow critique. Like a warm breath on my skin, unseen and unprovable but vital, I felt buoyed up, protected, and part of something much greater than myself or my own little family.

So I find myself, yet again, caught up and taught- not because I understand the “how” or even the “why”- but because I was willing to “do”- to test my own faith, and perhaps even feel the breath of the Lord.

Comments

  1. Thank you Tracy M, you are an inspiration.

  2. This was fantastic. Thanks, Tracy.

  3. Great way to describe fasting. That approximates how I often feel when fasting — buoyed up and comforted.

  4. Mark IV says:

    … very subtle sense of something greater going on…

    That is the part of fasting that is valuable to me. Tracy, this post recalled the memories of the first time I fasted, years and years ago. Thanks.

  5. Thanks for sharing. I have recently begun fasting again after a long hiatus, and I am rather enjoying this complex interaction between spirit and body.

  6. I rarely fast because of my diabetes, but when I do I always end up feeling inspired in some way.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    “The bad breath of him who fasts is more delectable to God than the scent of musk.” (from a Muslim hadith)

  8. Thanks Tracy, I love this post. Especially:

    Like a warm breath on my skin, unseen and unprovable but vital

    I have found the power of fasting to be truly transformative (is that a word?) and not discussed nearly enough, perhaps because we fear it will be abused. We talk about progression and we believe people can change, but I beieve that fasting and prayer is how we accomplish these things.

  9. This is a wonderful post. I believe in miracles, and sometimes fasting helps.

  10. Thank you for expressing the actual feeling of spirituality.

  11. Mike Parker says:

    Hmm. I’ve always struggled with fasting. I’ve done it many times the right way (have a purpose, start/end with prayer, etc.), but I’ve never gotten any spiritual “lift” from it. Usually all it does is give me a “low energy” feeling, which makes me more moody and irritable when dealing with my kids.

    For that reason, I frequently find myself not bothering to do it on Fast Sunday. What am I missing?

  12. Mike:

    I don’t think anyone can say for sure, but I think it’s important not to get discouraged by your experience and to keep trying. I have not had a great spiritual experience every time I fasted, and I have struggled with it at times, as many others have. My feeling though is that the times when I do receive a great spiritual lift make all the other times worthwhile.

  13. Here is a related fast site: http://abondanteliving.com/

    It has Fast Sunday meal planning ideas and menus for feasts. While not an LDS site, it has quite a few uplifting articles that may be applied to our own fasts.

  14. I join everyone else in saying Thanks, Tracy, for sharing this with us. You made me feel a little tearful. I believe in the power of fasting and although I’m not perfect at it every time, I believe that it’s an important part of who we are and how we commune with Heavenly Father.

  15. Thanks Tracy — I have just recently moved back into the non-fasting category after a four year stint of fasting. I love the power of fasting as a community.

  16. that sounds so nice. Unfortunately, I relate more to post 11- my husband and I both become very low-energy and irritable when we fast. I’ve had long stretches pregnant and nursing so not fasting, but I still dread fast Sundays a bit becuase my husband is out of commission from said tiredness and grouchiness. I want to tell him not to bother, it hurts the family too much. not that he’s ever a bad guy, just that it’s a precious family day and it gets ruined because he has to lay down and then the kids are mad he can’t play. When I fast, I just feel hunger pain, weakness, and irritable.. I do start and end it right, I think of the purpose many times that day… but I don’t feel edified one bit.

    So what are we doing wrong? I’m nursing now but when that stops I want to do Fast Sundays again, but to have it go well!

  17. Thank you, Tracy. The feeling of fasting and submitting my will to God is the most powerful and enduring spiritual experience ever granted to me. Perhaps especially because this doesn’t happen every time.

    One thought for 11 and 16: when our family started reducing the amount of sugar we ate as part of our regular diet, this really helped with the weakness and irritability of fasting. The hunger remains, but not that jittery, must-eat-now feeling. Don’t know if this applies to you or not, but thought it was worth a mention.

  18. greenfrog says:

    Does anyone here have experience with multi-day fasts? I know that the LDS tradition and instruction is 24 hours is sufficient, but I’m familiar with other practice outside our tradition that entail significantly longer fasts (though only of food, not of water).

    I’m curious.

  19. I have hypoglycemia, and so I can’t fast in the traditional sense. However, I attend my meetings on fast Sunday in the spirit of fasting.

    I still begin what would be the fast period with a prayer, and I meditate on whatever I would be fasting for if I were able. I only eat what I need to, and I avoid anything fancy. I get the same spiritual experience and results from this modified fasting as I did when I was able to actually fast. Although I am not saving any money by foregoing food, I still give a fast offering, as part of the spirit of fasting.

  20. I think sometimes people get caught up in what they feel like they are supposed to do, rather than what is simply right. I believe the Lord accepts our best offering. I have a daughter that always gets shakey and lightheaded on fast Sundays. She is a college athlete and takes good care of herself, but she still continues to experience weakness on fast Sundays. I’ve always told her that it isn’t about how long you fast, but the desire you have to fast. I feel badly that people think their fast isn’t as good as it should or could be if they don’t do it a certain way. I have an illness that isn’t so severe that I can’t fast, but it is extremely difficult to go without water. I fast the best way I can.

    Sometimes I catch myself being too introspective when I fast – I look inward rather than upward and expect something to come from inside of me rather than around me.

    A fast offering given in the spirit of fasting is beyond just turning over some money to the bishop. I think about the people who don’t have a choice of whether or not they eat on a daily basis. I remember watching a program about a little boy who was having his pre-kindergarden interview and the teacher asked how many meals people eat every day. The little boy struggled to answer, and the teacher helped coax him by saying, “breakfast”, and the boy would repeat what the teacher said. He didn’t know how many times everybody else ate every day because he was lucky to get one meal. That’s a little bit of what I mean when I say that I try to look outside of myself to see the benefits of my fasting.

    To someone who might be struggling with fasting, I’d like to say: Your best effort is worth more than you realize. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can.

  21. Thanks Katy, great comment. I agree 100%.

  22. Melinda says:

    It’s been a while since I fasted, due to a testimony crisis, followed immediately by pregnancy and nursing. But I had both types of experiences while fasting – nothing but hunger pangs and irritability on some days, and that subtle spiritual lift on other days.

    For me, the difference was preparation. If I started thinking about the fast days ahead of time, and praying about it by Thursday at the latest, I had a much better experience. If I woke up Sunday and thought, “oh yeah, it’s fast Sunday,” and skipped breakfast, I had a hunger pang day.

    It also helped if I really packed in the protein and complex carbs on Fri and Sat. Skimpy meals or too many sweets the two days before the fast made for bad headaches for me on Sunday.

    I’m almost looking forward to fasting again once junior is weaned. Some days it sounds better than others. This post was a nice reminder of the good experiences.

  23. thanks Melinda for those thoughts!

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