Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Ps. 119:105).
Fasting and Prayer20969_000_007
It was still early on Sunday morning as Dad called the family together.
“Where’s Mom?” six-year-old Katie asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
“That’s what I need to talk to all of you about,” Dad answered. “I took Mom to the airport this morning. Grandpa called late last night to tell us that Grandma is very sick. Mom has gone to help them.”
“Is Grandma going to die?” Melanie asked, her eyes filling with tears.
“I don’t know, sweetheart.” Dad put his arm around her. “Grandpa doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong. Mom will call us after she arrives and has a chance to talk to the doctor. Meanwhile, there is something we can do to help.”
“We can pray for Grandma,” Katie said, kneeling and folding her arms.
“Exactly right, honey,” Dad said. “And we can fast for Grandma today, too. Let’s begin our fast with a prayer. Would you offer it for us, Katie?”
The little family knelt together, and Katie prayed, “Heavenly Father, please bless Grandma. Bless Grandpa, too, so he won’t worry too much. And help Mama so she can come home soon. We are fasting for them today.”
Everyone felt peaceful as Katie finished the prayer and they prepared to go to church.
At home after church, Dad pulled two big photo albums from the shelf and told the children about some of the pictures. They talked all afternoon about their many happy memories of Grandma. Then, when it was time to end their fast and have supper, they knelt to give thanks for the day and to once again ask for a special blessing for Grandma.
Mom telephoned just as the children were getting ready for bed. “Grandma is going to be just fine,” she said. “I’ll stay to help Grandpa for a few days while Grandma rests. I’ll be home by Friday.”
After everyone had told Mom about their day and their fast for Grandma, they gathered again for family prayer. “Before we pray,” Dad said, “tell me what you learned today about fasting and prayer.”
“Heavenly Father answered our prayers,” Rachel responded.
“That’s true,” Dad said. “We know that He always answers our prayers. Sometimes the answer is yes, as it was today.”
“Sometimes it’s no, “ Melanie put in, “like when I prayed for my team to win the tournament and we lost.”
“That’s right, Melanie,” Dad said. “Sometimes the answer is ‘no.’ And sometimes the answer is ‘not yet—just wait and be patient.’ But Heavenly Father always answers our prayers in the way that is best for us. Did you learn anything else?”
Katie said, “Fasting helped me feel close to Heavenly Father.”
Natalie added, “Fasting today wasn’t as hard as it usually is. I didn’t even feel hungry! Is that because we were fasting for Grandma, not just going without food?”
Dad nodded. “Fasting helps us learn to control our bodies and it helps us develop faith. When we are baptized, we make a sacred promise to Heavenly Father that we will bear one another’s burdens and comfort those who need comfort. We have surely kept that covenant today as we fasted and prayed for Grandma.”
That night, family prayer was a prayer of gratitude—for Grandma feeling better, that Mom was coming home soon, and for keeping their baptismal covenant through fasting and prayer.
“Fasting and Prayer” Movable Story Figures
Mount page 10 on heavy paper, then color the figure pieces and cut them out along the broken lines.(click to view larger)
Melanie; Katie; Dad; Natalie; Rachel. (Illustrated by Tadd R. Peterson.)
Using the illustration on page 12 as a guide, assemble each figure by slipping the ball of each joint into its socket.
Use the figures to tell the story in family home evening. (Add the praying faces when needed by putting them in place, then folding back the tabs.) You might keep the figures and story in an envelope or resealable plastic bag and put them into your Sunday box.
Sharing Time Ideas
(Note: CS = Children’s Songbook)
1. Fasting and prayer have been linked in the scriptures since ancient times. Give each class one of the following scripture references. List 2 headings on the board: Who? and Result. Have each class locate its scripture assignment and determine who prayed and fasted and what the result was. The class should plan how they will tell the story—dramatize/pantomime it (see Teaching, No Greater Call, p. 166); each class member says one sentence; read directly from the scripture; etc. Then ask all the children to identify who fasted and prayed and the result; write or post each answer under the proper heading. Suggested scriptures:
2 Chr. 20:1–3, 13–24 Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, called the people together in prayer and fasting when their enemies came to battle. They were promised victory, and they won without having to fight!
Ezra 8:heading, Ezra 8:21–24, 28–31 Ezra and his people fasted and prayed for guidance in taking temple treasures to Jerusalem from Babylon. They were delivered from the hands of enemies and thieves and arrived safely in Jerusalem.
Dan. 6:16–23 When King Darius was tricked into throwing Daniel into the lions’ den, he fasted all night for Daniel, and Daniel’s life was spared.
Alma 5:1, 45–46 Alma testified that he had fasted and prayed many days to gain an understanding and a testimony of the gospel truths that he taught.
Alma 17:2–3 The sons of Mosiah were valiant and powerful missionaries because of fasting and prayer.
Matt. 4:1–11 , including footnotes 1b, 2c, 5a, 6a, 8a Jesus fasted for 40 days as He prepared Himself for His great ministry. He was able to withstand Satan’s temptations and was ministered to by angels.
Bear your testimony of the power of fasting and prayer in your life. Give each child a list of the scripture references and suggest that they share this activity with their families.
2. Prepare a reader’s theater (see Teaching, No Greater Call, p. 177), using the story of Esther (see Primary 6 manual, Lesson 38, pp. 167–171, for the story of Esther and other activity suggestions). Choose children who read well to present the story. Tell the children to listen well because after the story, there will be a game, and the story of Esther will help them to play the game. When the reader’s theater is over, pin the name of one of the characters (Haman, Mordecai, Esther, Servant, King) on the back of each child. The children may work in pairs or in small groups. They must ask each other questions that can be answered only with yes or no as they try to determine which persons they represent. Bear testimony of the strength you have received from fasting and prayer.
For younger children: See “Esther Saves Her People” (Friend, Sep. 1998, pp. 38–39) for the story and flannel-board figures. Let the children place the figures on the flannel board and retell the story several times. Help them understand that fasting and praying by Esther and her people helped Queen Esther to be brave. Bear testimony of the power of fasting and prayer in your life.
3. Have the children find heroes in the scriptures by giving them clues such as “This person fought a giant.” Have them use the Topical Guide to help them locate the reference; then have them share the story with each other. Discuss what they can learn from each hero that will help them keep their baptismal covenant.
Teach the song “Heroes of the Scriptures” (Friend, June 1998, p. 14). You might use simple costumes, such as a scarf or a paper crown, to suggest each scripture hero mentioned in the song. Play a game, matching the name of the person with the quality mentioned in the song. Tell the children how the stories of the heroes in the scriptures have been a “lamp unto [your] feet” in helping you keep your baptismal covenant. Help the children memorize Ps. 119:105.
For younger children: Tell the stories of the heroes featured in “Heroes of the Scriptures.” Sing the song and let the children wear simple costumes (like shawls) or carry props (like scriptures) depicting each hero.
4. You may want to use this idea as a class presentation. Prepare the children in the class to tell the story of Helaman’s stripling warriors (see Friend, Aug. 2000, pp. 34–35, for flannel-board figures and story, or help the children plan how to tell or dramatize the story in their own words). In Sharing Time, have the class tell or dramatize the story. Help the children understand that the mothers had taught those warriors to be obedient and live righteously. Sing v. 6 of “Book of Mormon Stories” (CS, pp. 118–119). Then sing v. 3, and discuss what Alma’s father had done to help his son live righteously (see Mosiah 27:11–14). Our parents, teachers, and leaders teach us of Jesus Christ and His great love. When we are baptized, we covenant to remember Him and to keep His commandments. Sing v. 8. Have the children write about or draw something that their parents, teachers, or leaders do or have done to help them live righteously and keep their baptismal covenant. Suggest that the children share this activitiy with their families. Bear your testimony about the influence of parents, teachers, or leaders in helping you keep your baptismal covenant.
5. Additional Friend resources: “Fasting for Billy” (Feb. 1998, pp. 2–4), “Like Alma—Me?” (June 1998, pp. 2–5), “Hold On” (Jan. 1998, p. 26), “When I Hear the Scriptures” (song—Jan. 1998, pp. 34–35), “Prayer of Faith” (Nov. 1998, pp. 48–IBC). See also the Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation 1998, “I Know the Scriptures Are True,” Theme 2.