I didn’t know as much about fasting when I was seven as I do now that I’m eight. Oh, I knew what fasting was, but I didn’t really understand what it meant until one day when my parents called a family meeting.
“Grandma will be having surgery, and she needs our help,” Mom explained. “Your aunts and uncles and all of your cousins who are old enough will join us in a special fast.”
“A fast!” I gasped.
I love Grandma and really wanted to help her, but I’m a growing boy. Eating is one of my favorite things to do. It’s hard for me to go without food for two minutes, so I didn’t know if I could go without two whole meals! Couldn’t I send Grandma a get-well card or visit her at the hospital? I would even weed her garden. That would be as good as fasting, wouldn’t it?
“Who would like to join our fast?” Mom asked.
Both of my sisters raised their hands. “Sure,” I thought, “it’s easier for them. They have more practice.” Of course Mom and Dad would fast, too. They’ve been fasting for so long they’re practically experts. My brother wouldn’t have to fast because he’s only two.
“When would we start?” I asked.
“Tomorrow night,” Dad replied. “Grandma’s surgery is scheduled for the next morning. We’ll close our fast at dinner that night.”
I thought carefully. Watching all my classmates go to lunch without me would be tough.
Then I remembered some of the great things Grandma does for me. She always gives me treats from her cookie jar. She gives the best hugs, and she prays for me. Swallowing hard, I raised my hand.
“Good,” Mom said with a smile. “I’m glad you’re all willing.”
Before we started our fast the next evening, my family gathered for prayer and asked Heavenly Father to bless Grandma.
For a while after dinner I was fine, especially if I didn’t look at the food in our pantry. But after a couple of hours, my stomach started to grumble. I grumbled, too.
“Dad, I don’t think I can wait until tomorrow to eat,” I moaned.
Dad is pretty smart. He says things in a way I can understand.
“Son, I know it’s difficult for a boy like you to fast,” Dad said. “But Heavenly Father has told us that fasting is a good way to receive extra help. We hope that if we show faith in Him by fasting and praying, He’ll bless Grandma to have a successful surgery and get well. Do you think you can try something for me?”
“If I have the strength,” I mumbled.
“Whenever you feel hungry, think of the reasons you’re fasting. Remember Grandma. If you do, I believe you’ll be able to make it to the end of the fast.”
The next day I tried what Dad said. Every time my stomach growled, I thought about Grandma and how much I wanted Heavenly Father to bless her. It wasn’t easy, but I made it all the way to the end, just like my dad said. Even though I was hungry, I felt good inside.
Everything worked out OK. Grandma is better, and she still has treats for me in her cookie jar. After her surgery, people did lots of things to help her get better, like bringing her dinner and stopping by to visit. I even made her a get-well card. But in my heart I know that nothing helped as much as fasting for Grandma.
“If we want our fasting to be more than just going without eating, we must lift our hearts, our minds, and our voices in communion with our Heavenly Father. Fasting, coupled with mighty prayer, is powerful.”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, May 2001, 73.