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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. It is a source of spiritual strength. Through fasting we can feel closer to Heavenly Father and strengthen our testimony. Fasting also includes giving a generous fast offering to help those in need.

Prepare yourself spiritually

What scriptures and other resources will help the young women understand fasting and the blessings it brings?

Esther 4:10–17; Matthew 4:1–11Alma 17:1–3, 9; D&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)

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

Alma 5:45–46; 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

Share experiences

At the beginning of each class, invite the young women to share, teach, and testify about the experiences they have had applying what they learned in the previous week’s lesson. This will encourage personal conversion and help the young women see the relevance of the gospel in their daily lives.

Introduce the doctrine

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

  • Share with the young women the story about a woman who fasted in Elder L. Tom Perry’s talk “What Seek Ye?” Ask them to listen for the blessings that come from fasting. What other blessings do they know of that come from fasting?
  • Invite the young women 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 (see D&C 59:13–14).

Learn together

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

  • Give the young women copies of “The Blessings of a Proper Fast,” and have them number the paragraphs from 1 to 25. Divide the class into small groups. Assign the young women 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 woman from each group to share with the class her group's question and the answer to the question.
  • As a class, make a list of common challenges that young women may face. Invite the young women 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 women overcome life’s challenges? How can they help them in their future roles in life, including wife and mother? Bear testimony of the blessings of fasting.
  • Ask the young women 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 women 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.
  • Invite a member of the bishopric to explain to the class how fast offerings help care for the poor and needy. Ask the young women how this information makes them feel about the opportunity to fast.

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

Live what we are learning

Invite the young women to consider how they will live by what they have learned today. For example, they could:

  • Prepare a list of actions and attitudes that make up a proper fast and apply them on the next fast Sunday or in a personal fast.
  • Share something they learned about fasting in family home evening or seminary class.