Learning to Fast (Weekend Poll)

By: wheatmeister
January 25, 2014

Guilt, future eating disorders or personal mastery, religious devotion and discipline?

Should parents require or encourage growing kids to fast?  Starting at what age?  When did you start fasting?  What was your view of it as a kid?

What's the best age for kids to start fasting?

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12 Responses to Learning to Fast (Weekend Poll)

  1. PGH on January 25, 2014 at 3:22 AM

    I’m 28 and have been a member of the church all my life. I still have trouble fasting. I get headaches when I don’t eat or drink for that long.

    Growing up, I think our fasting mainly consisted of not eating on Sundays until after church was over.

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  2. Nate on January 25, 2014 at 4:25 AM

    I like what the gospel of Thomas says about fasting:

    (6) “His disciples asked him and said to him: Do you want us to fast? And how shall we pray and give alms? What diet should we observe? Jesus said: Do not lie, and what you abhor, do not do; for all things are manifest in the sight of heaven; for there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered which will remain without being uncovered.”

    “What you abhore don’t do,” means that we shouldn’t fast if we hate it. It’s like Mormoni says, “whoso giveth a gift grudgingly, it is the same as if he retained the gift.” If we fast and we hate it, it is better to not fast at all.

    Fasting can be a joy. There are millions of people on this planet who do all kinds of fasting merely for the love of it and its health and spiritual benifits. It cleanses the body, it focuses the spirit, it promotes health and vitality.

    Usually, these are juice or water fasts, and they go for different lengths of time, a week, a day, a month.

    There is nothing specifically in LDS doctrine that says our fasts have to be two meals, with no food OR drink, or that they have to be on a specific day. Why not try and discover the true spirit of the fast by doing it for yourself, for your own health, with water or juice, for different lengths of time, and for different purposes?

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  3. Erin on January 25, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    On the poll, what about the option to teach children correct fasting and encourage it, but not *require* it? I think if eight-year-olds are old enough to choose to be baptized, they are old enough to choose to fast, not be required to fast. (Now, IMO, if an eight-year-old chooses to fast, the fast should be modified–maybe forgoing a single meal.)

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  4. alice on January 25, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    A child’s body is not fully grown until about 20. Brains are not fully developed until about 25.

    Fasting shouldn’t interfere with either. If a kid wants to do a token fast of some special favorite thing or a single meal that should be encouraged beginning with the treat at 8 and graduating to a meal in the teens. I think that would be good training for serious and meaningful asting in adulthood.

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  5. New Iconoclast on January 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    I’m with Erin – “None of the Above.” We taught our children the law, and it’s been up to them how they chose to follow it. My youngest daughter doesn’t do it much – at 13, she gets dizzy and ill. I’m not a good faster as a migraine sufferer. We do our best, but we’ve taught them that passing out, throwing up, or spending the afternoon in bed with an ice pack are not ways of honoring God.

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  6. hawkgrrrl on January 25, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    I was surprised when I found that so many other faiths “fasted” but still drank water, juices, teas or even ate fruit the whole time. Obviously, I thought that was weakness. But yeah, I too hate fasting. I get a headache.

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  7. Tay on January 25, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    It’s interesting. I will still drink water while fasting, but I grew up in Arizona and it would be stupid not to there. And I would have a little juice to bump up my blood sugar. Anyway, pregnancy and breastfeeding changed what fasting means to me. During those times I try to think of something else to give up that I like too much, like yelling or something. :) It feels hypocritical to help my children begin fasting because of not actually fasting myself. Anyway, I plan on encouraging a one meal fast for the kids once they turn six, two meals at eight, 24 hours whenever they feel like they need that kind of fast.

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  8. Hedgehog on January 25, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Also none of the above. With our children it was basic meals that didn’t take much preparation: rice cakes with honey, a banana and milk. At age 8 they began to skip one meal, and once thet turned 12, two.
    But yes, I too am prone to migraines if I forget to drink plenty the day before, and sometimes even then. Occasionally I have suffered severe colic eating after a fast, this was especially common in my late teens and early twenties and now that I’m older there seem to be digestive consequences for several days afterwards, so I am seriously thinking that I am going to have to drink water during fasting at least.

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  9. MB on January 25, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    Live and teach the principle as you understand it. Never require it. When they decide to try it, assist and counsel kindly.

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  10. IDIAT on January 27, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    How do you learn to run a mile? My starting off small and then progressing. We started encouraging our kids to fast once they were baptized. It didn’t take too long for them to be able to fast as set forth in church teachings (two meals). We certainly wouldn’t have begrudged them if they had not been able to fast, but (knock on wood) thus far my wife and I and our children (4 of whom are adults) can all fast without any problem.

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  11. ANON on January 27, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    We live in an extremely dry climate where temperatures reach above 100 degrees during summer months (and the church building is never sufficiently cool). I think it is absolutely stupid to go without water under these circumstances. I personally do not fast because I think making myself sick doesn’t do anything for me spiritually. I just get sick and have to lay in bed. I hate fast Sundays because many people are irritable and exhausted.

    I think nursery leaders and primary teachers should be given a pass on fast Sundays. Who can handle a group of rambunctious sunbeams (especially when one or two have special needs) without having been watered and fed first?

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  12. Douglas on January 27, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    I say start ‘em at age eight, once baptized. By definition it’s the age of accountability, and already the little darlings ought to be a bit familiar with the concept of self-control. Under normal circumstances, it shouldn’t be harmful. Besides, participation is what reinforces good habits and Gospel activity later in life. But be encouraging with the youngsters, not overbearing.

    Pregnant and nursing women, along with individuals that have significant medical issues wherein even a two-meal fast is inadvisable, have as far as I’ve known been specifically exempt. As for getting a drink of water when it’s hot (or you otherwise have reason to be thirsty)…fasting is about developing self-control and spiritual strength, not a macho contest to set how much pain and suffering one can endure to show faith. It was necessary for only our Lord to suffer emotional and spiritual agony in Gethsemane and then be crucified, we don’t have “stigmata” in the Church. In other words, faith doesn’t trump common sense.

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