Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fasting and Prayer

Karen gave the lesson in Church at the Detention Center this morning.  As she commenced the lesson she told us that she had prepared another lesson, but that this morning she'd felt inspired to teach a different one.  We had some pretty tough customers at the meeting and when she announced that the topic would be Fasting and Prayer I was not a little bit skeptical.

Before she finished though, there were tears in every eye.  Her lesson was filled with the Spirit and really hit home with each young man.  I was surprised at how fascinated they each were with the concept of going without food and water in order to gain spiritual strength.  One, young man, a Native American made the comparison to fasting at Sun Dance or on a Vision Quest.  You could see an interest in each of them to give Fasting and Prayer a try.

Most humbling for me was the wake-up call I personally experienced.  I haven't fasted very faithfully lately.  Something, that was once a very vital part of my life and commonly occurred more than once a month, has kind of drifted out of my consciousness lately.  Part of the reason may be that we don't have Fast and Testimony Meetings at the Detention Center.  I'm not saying we shouldn't.  I guess it didn't occur to us that these kids might like to bear their testimonies.  That will be an experiment I'd very much like to try next month.  Anyway, what I'm getting at, is that I haven't attended a regular Fast and Testimony Meeting more than a couple of times in the five and a half years I've served in DT.  I guess, I've just let the importance of Fasting and Prayer slide a bit.

During the lesson I was reminded of the story of a dear friend of mine.  We'll call him Chip.  Chip was an alcoholic, from his teens well into middle age.  His father too, was an alcoholic.  A few years ago Chip and his Dad attended a family reunion.  When, in the afternoon, the two of them passed out drunk under a tree at the park, the remainder of the family had a little meeting.  In the meeting they all agreed to Fast and Pray for their two beloved drunks, on a monthly basis.  It was July.  The family kept their commitment every month until December, and beyond.  December was the month that during a phone call Chip's Dad mentioned that for some inexplicable reason, he'd lost his interest in alcohol.  Shocked, Chip responded with, "Me too!"  They had no idea their family was Fasting and Praying for them.  They were more than a little bewildered about what was happening to them.  "It just became more difficult to drink and than it was to just not, so I didn't." says Chip.

Chip has since served as Elder's Quorum President and as a Councilor to his Bishop.  Fasting, Prayer and the love a wonderful family had brought down the blessings of Heaven, upon two wonderful men, not to mention their loved ones.

All of this is such a wake up call for me.  It didn't even occur to me until after I had eaten and gone to church today that it was Fast Sunday.  How remiss I've become.  My own recovery from addiction was hugely facilitated by Fasting and Prayer.  Why have I not taught it more carefully to these kids?  Why have I never, in five and a half years, ever specifically Fasted and Prayed in their behalf?  I made my Heavenly Father a promise today, that such an oversight, will never happen again. When I go to 12 Steps this afternoon, I'm going to make that same commitment to the kids.  Anyone familiar with 12 Steps knows that recovery doesn't come without the help of God.  What better approach is there, to acquiring that help, than Fasting and Prayer.

Since my last relapse, I've wondered and wondered what I need to learn to avoid another.  I think I got my answer today.  Thank you Karren, for listening to the Spirit and teaching God's lesson today, rather than your own.

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