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Why do we fast?

To fast is to go without food and drink voluntarily for a certain period of time. Fasting combined with sincere prayer can help you prepare yourself and others to receive God’s blessings. Fasting also includes giving a generous fast offering to help those in need. Aaronic Priesthood holders may be asked to assist the bishop in the collection of fast offerings.

Prepare yourself spiritually

What scriptures and other resources will help the young men understand fasting and its resulting blessings?

Esther 4:10–17; Matthew 4:1–11D&C 59:12–14 (Fasting is a source of spiritual strength)

Isaiah 58:3–12; Matthew 6:16–18 (The Lord describes a proper fast, which includes fast offerings)

Matthew 17:14–21 (Jesus tells His disciples that fasting and prayer give more power to heal)

Mosiah 27:18–24; Alma 6:6 (Fasting can help bless others)

Alma 5:45–46; 17:1–3, 9; Helaman 3:35 (Fasting helps strengthen testimony)

L. Tom Perry, “What Seek Ye?Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 84–87

Carl B. Pratt, “The Blessings of a Proper Fast,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 47–49

Fasting and Fast Offerings,” True to the Faith (2004), 66–69

Let the young men lead

A member of the quorum presidency (or an assistant to the bishop in the priests quorum) conducts the quorum meeting. He leads the young men in counseling together about quorum business, teaches them their priesthood duties (from the scriptures and the Duty to God book), encourages them to share their experiences fulfilling their duty to God, and invites an adviser or other quorum member to teach a gospel lesson. He could prepare by filling out a quorum meeting agenda during a presidency meeting.

Begin the learning experience

Choose from these ideas or think of your own to review last week’s lesson and introduce this week’s lesson:

  • Invite the young men to share a scripture that they remember from last week’s quorum meeting.
  • Invite the young men to imagine that a friend of another faith wants to know what it means to fast and why they do it. How would they explain the principle of fasting to their friend? Discuss the difference between fasting and just going hungry.

Learn together

Each of the activities below will help the young men understand what it means to fast. Following the inspiration of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for your quorum:

  • Give the young men copies of “The Blessings of a Proper Fast,” and have them number the paragraphs from 1 to 25. Divide the quorum into small groups. Assign the young men to read in their groups one of the following sets of paragraphs and answer the corresponding questions (you may want to write them on the board): 1 to 6, What does it mean to fast? How do you feel about fasting? 7 to 8, What is the purpose of fasting? How does knowing this purpose help you? 9 to 13, What is the relationship between prayer and fasting? 14 to 25, What are the blessings of fasting? When have you experienced these blessings? Ask a young man from each group to share with the quorum his group's questions and their answers.
  • As a quorum, make a list of common challenges that young men may face. Invite the young men to read scriptures that describe the blessings of fasting, such as those listed in this outline. Ask them to list on the board the blessings from a proper fast. How can these blessings help the young men overcome life’s challenges? How can they help them in their roles as priesthood holders? Bear testimony of the blessings of fasting, and invite the young men to do the same.
  • Ask the young men to make a three-column chart on a piece of paper and label the columns, “What Should We Do?” “What Should We Avoid Doing?” and “What Blessings Does God Promise?” Invite them to write answers they find regarding fasting in Isaiah 58:3–12. (If necessary, explain that fast offerings are one way we “deal [our] bread to the hungry,” and that young men are welcome to pay fast offerings.) Encourage them to share their answers and the blessings they have received for fasting in the Lord’s way.
  • If the young men in your ward assist the bishop in collecting fast offerings (see Duty to God, 23), consider having the quorum president lead a discussion about how they can fulfill this duty in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord. For example, the quorum president could discuss what fast offerings are for, what quorum members’ attitudes should be while performing this duty, and what the blessings are for serving others. Invite a member of the bishopric to explain to the quorum how fast offerings are used to help the poor and needy. Consider arranging for the quorum members to teach a Primary class about their priesthood duty to collect fast offerings.

Ask the young men to share what they learned today. Do they understand the what it means to fast? What feelings or impressions do they have? Do they have any additional questions? Would it be worthwhile to spend more time on this doctrine?

Invite to act

The young man who is conducting concludes the meeting. He could:

  • Share experiences he has had as he has fasted.
  • Invite quorum members to apply what they learned today the next time they fast.
  • Invite the young men to pay fast offerings.