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February 08, 2011

Can kids fast?

My husband has done several extended fasts.  Currently he is on day 8 of an 11 day juice only fast (read more about that here).  Since our boys are now able to understand so much of what we do, and since we invited our staff and many volunteers to join my husband for 5 of the 11 days, we decided to involve our kids too. 

We talked about how daddy is fasting from food and how that means he would only drink juice for 11 days.  We talked about how fasting means you are giving up something important to you in order draw closer to God.  We suggested that they give up desserts for the last 5 days of the fast and they agreed.

Then this past Sunday Elijah had a huge crying episode over his video game.  These episodes seemed to be happening too often for my liking.  So I suggested to him that maybe he should fast from all video games as well.  He was not very receptive to this suggestion, at first.  Then my husband and Elijah prayed about it and afterwards, Elijah agreed that he thought God would want him to include video games in his fast.

We have now completed day two of the no desserts or video games fast.  I was surprised today when Elijah refused a lollipop at the office (totally unsolicited) because it was dessert.  We did not have any qualifying conversations about our definition of dessert.  I have also not heard one mention of his DSi or Playstation.

I am not sure what their little minds understand about God and the purpose of a fast but I do believe that God honors their obedient hearts to their parents.  After all God asked us to simply have faith like a child.

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Comments

We recently did the 21 day Awakening series/fast (as well as Kimberly) and our children participated in this with us. They too fasted from sweets/desserts. They (ages 13 & 11) were very tempted at school and away from home, but did it. I can tell things have shifted around our house.

I never thought of this but what a great way to teach your children about an often neglected spiritual discipline, fasting.

Great post! I absolutely agree that kids can participate in a fast. Just like any other spiritual discipline, I believe if we begin teaching our children about it when they are young, on their level, it will become an extension of who they are as they grow and mature. The concepts will be ingrained in them and they will have first-hand experience in seeing the blessings that result!

Our church recently finished taking part in the 21-day Awakening series, which incorporated the Daniel Fast. Our boys are 6 & 4, and as a family, we discussed what fasting meant, and talked about what we could do as a family to add to the food component my husband and I were doing. For us, it also came down to video games. Our family enjoys playing our Wii together, but we put it away for three full weeks. The boys did great with it! Every once in a while, one would forget and ask to play, but my 6-year-old hit it right on one night when he started to ask to play, then stopped and said, "oh yeah! We're proving to God that we love Him more than our games. I don't want to play right now after all!"

Thank you for sharing so many of your great family experiences with us on your blog!

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