Our oldest daughter was taught to fast on the first Sunday of the month when she was seven years old. One fast Sunday morning as our family was preparing to attend sacrament meeting, I heard from the living room my young daughter sighing for something to eat. She complained to her mom that she was hungry and needed to eat. I felt so much love for my daughter, understanding her situation, but I didn’t want her to fail at the same time.
I quickly turned to read from the book of Matthew 4:1–11. This tells about Jesus being tempted three times by Satan as He fasted for 40 days.
Satan started tempting the Saviour by saying, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (verse 3) Jesus answered him, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (verse 4).
Secondly, Satan tempted, “Cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. …
“Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (verses 6-7).
Lastly, Satan tempted by showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. He then said unto Jesus, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (verse 9).
Jesus answered him, “Get thee hence Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shall thou serve” (verse 10).
The highlight of the story is summarized in verse 11. “Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”
With love and a prayer in my heart to help my hungry daughter, I called her to come sit by my side. She was crying and she was trying to wipe her tears away. I told her that I had a beautiful story to share with her from the New Testament. I then read to her this scripture block, verse by verse, and pointed out the similarities between what she’s going through and what Jesus also went through. They were both fasting, and they were both tempted by Satan to eat and forget about the fast. I then explained that when Jesus finally sent Satan away by ignoring his temptations, Satan left Him, and the angels came and ministered unto Him.
My daughter had tears in her eyes still, and I was not sure if it was because she was hungry or because she was touched by the pure example of the Saviour. I asked her if she would like to send Satan away and to receive ministering from angels. She nodded her head in agreement.
I then bore witness to her that the blessings of overcoming Satan’s influence and the receiving of the ministering of angels is real. I hugged her and told her that her fast is something between her and her Heavenly Father, and not between her and us, her parents. The decision to end her fast at any time before the 24-hour period is hers and she is free to make that decision without asking us. As her parents we are not in control, but she has to tell Heavenly Father through prayer when she decides to end her fast.
She left me with teary eyes and without a word, and then there came a miracle. She never voiced her hunger anymore, but she went on to silently prepare for church. She was happy and she was able to make it all the way to the end of our family fast that day. It was the last time she complained on a fast Sunday. She never missed a family fast from then on. Our daughter is 17 years old now. She has grown up to believe in the power of prayer and fasting and I have grown to believe in the convincing power of the scriptures, which can lighten our way in times of darkness.
I know that we can overcome Satan’s deceptions, and I know that the angels can visit and minister to us in times when we feel we are alone or when we feel that we cannot continue on the covenant path. In 1 Nephi 8:33, Lehi said about his dream of the tree of life, “Great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point their finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.” Like these examples from our loving Saviour and from our father Lehi, we can overcome Satan’s influence by heeding him not.
The power of the scriptures is real. They are here to help us win this war against the evil influences of our day. I pray we will study the scriptures carefully, especially the Book of Mormon, as counselled by our modern-day prophets, and use the great power they contain to bless our lives every day as we journey through this mortal life.