Monday, September 8, 2014

Mormon Monday: Fasting and the Sacrament

On the first Sunday of every month in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a church-wide fast where we go without food or water for two meals.

Since I became pregnant with Kevin, I have not been able to fast due to nursing and other factors. Instead of fasting food, I would go without television or sugar during that time period so I could still participate. As Kevin's need for sustenance diminished, I was able to fast one meal, and I was grateful for the opportunity.

Yesterday, for the first time in over two years, I felt that I was capable of fasting two meals again. It was a happy moment for me. Fasting brings a lot of power into our lives.

Elder Shayne M. Bowen in April 2009 said:
What if there were a way to overcome our habits, addictions, and burdens? What if there were a way to gain sufficient confidence in the Lord that you could call down the powers of heaven? What if there were principles you could teach your loved ones that, if applied, would allow them to overcome personal weaknesses and draw closer to God?
As we properly understand and live the law of the fast, these desired blessings can be ours.
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6).
Our Father will free us from the bands of wickedness, He will lift our heavy burdens, and He will let the oppressed go free. In fact He promises to empower us to break every yoke. What an enabling promise, to have the power to break every yoke!
Proper and consistent fasting can help us overcome sins, bad habits, and addictions. Is there any of us who would not want to be freed from the personal burdens we carry? Fasting allows us to avail ourselves of this cleansing and purifying power.
I have felt that power in my life.

However, as I was sitting in the first meeting at church yesterday, I wasn't feeling so optimistic. My head was beginning to pound, and I was feeling weak. I didn't know if I was going to make it through the whole three hours without eating something. I had already missed breakfast, and it was an hour past lunch time.

We finished singing the sacrament hymn, which is designed to help bring the spirit before we partake of the sacrament.

When we take of the bread and water, we do it in remembrance of our Savior Jesus Christ. The bread represents his body, and the water represents the blood that was shed for us. When we partake of these symbols, we promise the Lord that we will keep His commandments, always remember Him, and take His name upon us. These are the same things that we promise at baptism. In return, the Lord has promised that He will forgive our sins, and that we will have His Spirit to be with us.

The Lord himself instigated the sacrament. It has always been a fundamental part of His church.
I wasn't feeling very good, but after I had partaken of the bread and water, I noticed a remarkable change. I suddenly felt re-energized and my headache subsided! As I contemplated how much better a morsel of bread and a tiny cup of water had made me feel, my mind suddenly made a connection, and I felt enlightened. It wasn't the tiny piece of bread or the water that had changed me. They were only symbols of my Savior. It was my Savior who had actually strengthened me and helped me in that moment.

Often in this life, we are asked to endure difficult things. Sometimes, those things can seem to be beyond our abilities to complete. However, with the assistance of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are capable of doing anything. This is the grace that is talked about in the scriptures.

I thought that I wouldn't be able to fast the full two meals. Right before I took the sacrament, I was thinking about eating some of the snacks we had for Kevin because I was feeling so weak. However, simply by taking the sacrament, I found that I was able to endure the next several hours and overcome my own insufficiency. I found that the simple reminder of my Savior was enough to sustain me and help me be stronger.

Sometimes, all we need is a reminder that someone is there helping us and caring for us. The Savior is always there. All we have to do is turn to him. There is power in the sacrament and in remembering our Savior throughout the week. There is power in fasting. I know those things that we fasted for yesterday will be answered in the way that is best for our family.

I'm so grateful for the lesson that the Spirit taught me yesterday. Too often, I think I'm strong enough to go through this life alone. The thing that I constantly need to remember is that I wasn't meant to walk alone. I was meant to help and be helped by others. We are here together, and as we strive to serve others, we can ALL return to our Father in Heaven.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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