This Friday I will be joining those of my faith, and hopefully many others, to fast for relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. The President of my Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Russell M. Nelson, is inviting everyone to fast regarding the effects of the virus for the second time in 2 weeks. We are being asked to pray for, and reflect on, the following purposes as we fast:
- that the present pandemic may be controlled,
- caregivers protected,
- the economy strengthened,
- and life normalized.
Fasting is an ancient tradition of self-denial and sacrifice in many faiths whose goal is to align our will with God’s, understand his teachings, gain inspiration, come closer to the divine, and plead for relief. In my tradition fasting is something that is done at least monthly. We abstain from 2 meals (food and drink), making a roughly 24 hour period. We pray for specific individual purposes during our fast and reflect on them throughout. We donate, at minimum, what we would have spent on meals as a fast offering, which is used in congregations around the world to aid those who are struggling.1
What do I hope will come from this fast when millions participate this week? I expect personal reassurance and hope to increase in those who undertake it. I believe in a God with real power, so I hope for some increased inspiration for scientists, physicians, and public health officials in how to treat and control this disease. I also hope for increased humility, selflessness, and wisdom in leaders. We have seen some tremendous leadership from local and regional governmental leaders, business leaders, and private citizens. Where leadership is lacking is painfully obvious, but God can inspire others to fill the gaps.
When I have fasted in the past, I have seen results in my life and a calming of my personal heartaches. If you feel so inclined, I hope that you will accept the invitation to fast this Good Friday. Make it your own, find a way to serve or donate, and turn the collective sacrifice we are all making into deliberate action.
These financial offerings are apart from tithing and additional donations we make to other humanitarian causes. ↩︎