Law of the Fast
Tell your group that you are going to say a word and they have to shout out whatever comes to mind - record their answers on paper on on a board.
- Use the following words: POWER, FAST, BURDEN, YOKE, and any other word you want to use.
- Have a discussion on the words they thought of and shouted out.
- What did you think of those words?
- Now that you've had more time to think, what other words come to mind?
Split up the following scriptures amongst your group and invite them to look for the previous words used in the readiness activity and how they all relate:
Discussion Questions and applicable quotes:
- What does it mean to fast?
- “When fasting, members of the Church are advised to abstain from two meals each Fast Day and to contribute as a donation the amount saved thereby for the support of the worthy poor.” [Published statement from the First Presidency of the Church, March 26, 1932]
- “Fast offerings are used for one purpose only: to bless the lives of those in need. Every dollar given to the bishop as a fast offering goes to assist the poor. When donations exceed local needs, they are passed along to fulfill the needs elsewhere.” [Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, May 2001, 74]
- Why is it important to fast with a purpose?
- “Fast with purpose. We must ever remind ourselves and all members of the Church to keep the law of the fast. We often have our individual reasons for fasting. But I hope members won't hesitate to fast to help us lengthen our stride in our missionary effort, to open the way for the gospel to go to the nations where it is not now permitted. It's good for us to fast as well as to pray over specific things and over specific objectives.” [The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.145]
- How does fasting, or weakening the physical body, give one strength?
- In all ages the Lord has called upon his people to fast and pray and seek him with all their strength and power. Fasting—the abstaining from food and drink for a designated period—gives a man a sense of his utter dependence upon the Lord so that he is in a better frame of mind to get in tune with the Spirit. Moses and Jesus both fasted for forty days as they sought that oneness with the Father out of which great spiritual strength comes. [Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 2:152)]
- How is fasting an opportunity to master the self?
- “A pivotal spiritual attribute is that of self-mastery—the strength to place reason over appetite. Self-mastery builds a strong conscience. And your conscience determines your moral responses in difficult, tempting, and trying situations. Fasting helps your spirit to develop dominance over your physical appetites. Fasting also increases your access to heaven’s help, as it intensifies your prayers. Why the need for self-mastery? God implanted strong appetites within us for nourishment and love, vital for the human family to be perpetuated. When we master our appetites within the bounds of God’s laws, we can enjoy longer life, greater love, and consummate joy.” [President Russell M. Nelson, "Decisions for Eternity," Ensign, Nov. 2013]
- “I would like to suggest that there isn't anything that this present generation needs so much as the power of self-control; appetite is stronger than will. Men's passions dominate their lives. If there is one thing that we need to recover, it is the power of self-control over the physical body; to deny it good food ... for two meals, [is to obtain] a mastery over self; and the greatest battle any of us shall ever fight is with self.
- I am charged to take possession of this house, this mortal tabernacle, and it is to be my servant. I am not to abuse it but keep it vigorous, clean, healthy, and strong. This exercise of controlling it once a month, that it must fast, is a healthy exercise of spiritual control over the material. If I can do this with regard to food, when this body craves something that is positively hurtful, then I have obtained power to say: "You cannot have it." Thus spiritual control over the body, in all its activities, may be secured, beginning with control over the appetite. [Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, p. 157]
- What role does paying a Fast Offering play?
- Study the following two talks and incorporate them into the discussion:
- What are some of the promised blessings of a true fast?
- “Let this be an ensample to all saints, and there will never be any lack for bread: When the poor are starving, let those who have, fast one day and give what they otherwise would have eaten to the bishops for the poor, and every one will abound for a long time; and this is one great and important principle of fasts approved of the Lord. And so long as the saints will all live to this principle with glad hearts and cheerful countenances they will always have an abundance.” [Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 7:413]
Individually, or as a group, set a date to fast. Begin with a purposeful prayer dedicated to a specific cause or need. Determine how long the fast will be. Decide what course of action will be taken throughout the fast to gain the most inspiration (studying scriptures related to the dedicated fast, keeping a journal to record impressions during the fast, seeing and talking to others about the fast—Bishop, Home-teachers, etc.). Conclude the fast with a prayer and pay fast offerings.