As a practicing Mormon, one part of our religious practice is a monthly fast. But I’ve been finding that many people also do fasting for non-religious dietary or health reasons. This short blog post is directed at people fasting for these non-religious reasons, as a possible way of making your experience more meaningful by borrowing a secularized page from those who fast religiously.
Specifically, an element of an LDS member’s fast is to take the money that you would’ve spent on food and donate it for helping the poor and the hungry. We do this through what are called “fast offerings” which a local congregation’s bishop uses to provide food and help to the less fortunate in the congregation, often through a “bishop’s storehouse.” But the general concept of taking the money you save by not eating and using it to donate to what you see as a worthy cause is what I want to focus on.
For instance, you could donate the money you save to:
- As food or money to a local food kitchen, a shelter for troubled youth, or something similar focused on alleviating local poverty.
- A good non-poverty related cause, like privately-funded space telescopes for detecting hazardous asteroids, promoting criminal justice reform, environmental research, education, robotics classes for kids, or any of a host of other good causes.
- Helping someone specifically, like maybe buying some seeds and gardening materials to help plant some flowers for an elderly neighbor, or buying parts or tools to help a friend or neighbor repair a car or a bike, etc.
The point is, use the money you would’ve spent anyway on food to do something special for someone else. I think you’ll find it easier to stick with your fast when you know the money you’re saving is going to help a cause or person you care about, and it will likely make your fasting more meaningful. At least that has been my experience. When my religious fasting slips into “checking off a monthly to-do,” it’s a chore that I look forward to ending. But when you’re really doing it to help someone else, it really does feel a lot easier.
In religious lingo we’d call this “fasting with a purpose”, but the idea is perfectly at home in a secular context as well.
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