Growing up, I’d walk into the kitchen on Sundays prepared to pour myself a bowl of cereal for breakfast. But on the first Sunday of each month, I was stopped by a paper sign that was taped to the cupboard.
“Today is fast Sunday. Love, Dad,” it read.
Before I was baptized, I remember reading that sign and feeling gleeful that I didn’t have to fast yet. Pouring myself a bowl of cereal, I’d glory in my triumph that as the youngest child, I could go to church full while everyone else went hungry.
And then I turned 8 years old and was baptized. Just as before, I’d walk into the kitchen not realizing it was fast Sunday and was stopped short by that sign. Nobody was preventing me from eating, and I could easily pour myself a bowl of cereal if I wanted to. But I would know that it was fast Sunday, and I would know what choice I made if I decided to eat.
Now, decades later, I have to admit that fasting is still hard for me, and when fast Sunday approaches I have to mentally steel myself for the day ahead. But I have also found many blessings from fasting and believe that it isn’t just a day to be endured—it’s something to appreciate and enjoy. So with that in mind, here are seven things that I think can help make fast Sunday more enjoyable.
Keep Your Kitchen Tidy
You know the Primary song “Saturday” that talks about cleaning the house for Sunday? Well it must have been on to something, because according to a study highlighted on Reuters, a less-cluttered kitchen can lead people to snack less and can help prevent them from overeating sugary snacks.
So before your next fast Sunday, help yourself out by cleaning up your kitchen in advance. That way when fast Sunday actually arrives, you won’t be as impacted by the clutter around you and hopefully you’ll be a little less tempted to snack. Plus when it’s time to break your fast, instead of going straight for the cookies maybe you’ll opt for something healthier instead—chances are especially in your favor if you’ve prepared some healthy food ahead of time that you can easily access. You’ll also have the added benefit of being able to keep your mind more focused on spiritual nourishment when you don’t have to worry about cleaning up last night’s dishes.
This might sound contradictory for fast Sunday. After all, one reason we abstain from food and drink for “two consecutive meals in a 24-hour period” is to “contribute the money that would have been spent for that food to those in need,” Gospel Topics essays explains. But it can be nice when you break your fast to have an extra special meal as a physical symbol, so to speak, of how special fast Sundays are to you. And of course, there’s the added benefit of having that meal to look forward to once you break your fast.
So treat yourself in your own style, whether that’s cooking a favorite dish from scratch or having a dessert after your meal that you wouldn’t normally make. You could also consider bringing out your nicest set of dishes and spending a little more time around the dinner table after your fast to enjoy the blessings of that day.
Serve Others in Need
Your offerings on fast Sunday are for those in physical need—but do you know someone who might have spiritual or emotional needs you could serve that day? Perhaps you know someone who might be breaking their fast alone, and you could invite them to instead do it with you so you can enjoy a meal together. Or you could use fast Sunday as a reminder to reach out to those you minister to. No need to make it complicated—but thinking about others could help you take your mind off your growling stomach and make your fast more intentional.
Record Your Testimony
Fast Sunday is the perfect opportunity to reflect on your conversion. Sometimes, that could mean sharing your testimony at the pulpit. But if public speaking isn’t your thing (or even if it is), you could use fast Sunday as an opportunity to write down your testimony. Make it as simple or elaborate as you like, depending on what you’re fasting for and how much time you have. And don’t worry if it feels repetitive to other entries—studies have shown that writing things down will help you remember them better. So when your month unfolds and you find yourself needing a little spiritual strength, you might just remember the things you wrote down at the beginning of the month and rely on it as a source of comfort in your time of need.
Schedule a Temple Trip
Start your fast Sunday off on a spiritual note by planning a trip to the temple. Maybe you have time to go to the temple on Saturday night before you start fasting, and the next day you can reflect on your experience. Or maybe it works better for you to attend the temple the week leading up to fast Sunday. But if the timing just doesn’t work out, don’t stress it—you can always use the monthly reminder as an opportunity to schedule a time later that month to go to the temple or just to walk the grounds.
Do a Project
Have you ever had a fun project you’ve wanted to tackle but never had the time to get started? Fast Sunday could be the perfect time to dedicate to whatever you’ve been wanting to accomplish. So when you have extra time that you’re trying to fill (not thinking about food) and you’ve reached your scripture study capacity, consider giving yourself a mental break by working on your project instead. Maybe this means finally organizing the thousands of photos on your phone, learning a new instrument, or studying a language. Whatever it is, it’s ideal to make it something you would enjoy doing so you can look forward to it each month. And if you don’t finish it this time, no worries—you can pick it up again next fast Sunday.
Reach Out to an Old Friend
If it’s been a while since you’ve connected with an old friend, consider making a call or sending a text or an email to that friend on fast Sunday. Not only will it give the two of you the chance to reconnect or catch up, but new research published by the American Psychological Association has shown that people who reach out often underestimated how much their effort mattered to the recipient. So if you feel like it’s out of the blue, rest assured that your reaching out might be just the thing your friend needs. Plus, according to a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, our “interactions with others help us to regulate our emotions and cope with stressors when they arise”—never a bad thing when you’re feeling a little hangry.
Remember the Purpose of Fasting
Whether you give these ideas a try or have something else in mind, it’s always helpful to remember the purpose of fasting. Isaiah 58:6 says it well:
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?”
So no matter how you feel about fast Sunday when that day approaches on the calendar, this promise is a beautiful reminder of the true blessings that come from abstaining from food and drink if we are able. As we do so, our burdens can be lifted, we can overcome personal weakness, and we can break the things that bind us—now that’s something we can always be grateful for each month.