We each have within us two different entities. A natural man, and spiritual man (or women). We come into this world where the natural man, rules our thoughts and desires. We eat and sleep, when we are young the world seems to revolve around our physical desires or needs. As we grow older we are responsible for putting off the natural man. “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submisive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”
so the goal is to overcome the natural man and let the spiritual man take over. But how do we do that??? We yield to the enticings of the Holy spirit and become childlike. We submit ourselves to the will of the Lord. Here is one simple suggestion that may help in understanding more of how to put off the natural man. There are many things you can do, but for one you can fast. This is an excellent way, it can almost be considered practice. you are depriving your body of something that you physically need to become more spiritually in tune. Fasting is a way to help us overcome our habits, addictions, and burdens. It helps us gain confidence and faith in the Lord to call down the powers of Heaven. It allows you to become closer to God.
Here are 5 principles of a proper fast given by Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the Seventy:
Principle 1: A generous fast offering blesses others.
When we bless others, God blesses us. Isaiah teaches the principle of fast offerings. He teaches us that to receive promised power and blessings, we must not only fast but also care for the poor and needy.
We qualify for God’s promised blessings and power as we care for all of His children in accordance with the fast He has chosen. “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:7).
Isaiah 58:10 teaches the same fast offering principle: “And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday.”
Principle 2: Fasting invites enlightenment and the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
The Lord promises not only the power to overcome all of our sins but also light, health, and righteousness in our lives. And, just as with the children of Israel, He promises that His glory will surround and protect us.
“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward” (Isaiah 58:8).
As we all strive to put off the natural man, let us remember the importance of fasting, and how it can help us all become more spiritually in tune. Whenever I read this talk by elder Bowen, I am always very excited to fast. Knowing that it will only help me draw closer to God.
In the following verses we receive the promise that He will hear our prayers. We can approach Him with complete faith and confidence. Our hunger will be satisfied with the bread of life; our thirst will be quenched with the living water that never fails.
“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; …
“And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isaiah 58:9, 11).
Principle 3: Fasting helps us subdue the natural man.
Fasting requires discipline. Fasting helps us accomplish one of the vital purposes of life: developing self-mastery.
King Benjamin referred to this self-mastery as overcoming the natural man. He taught that the natural man is an enemy to God, always has been, and ever will be. If we don’t overcome the natural man in this life and become “a saint through the atonement of Christ” (Mosiah 3:19), we will never live with our Father in Heaven again. Our physical bodies are created in such a way that we can have a spiritual victory over the natural man each time we properly fast.
Principle 4: Fasting intensifies prayer.
In the scriptures I have found at least 49 references to fasting—25 of those link fasting to prayer. Proper fasting magnifies our ability to pray, study, and teach.
Principle 5: Fasting prepares us to bear testimony.
President Henry B. Eyring has taught:
“The fast also helps us to feel humble and meek so that the Holy Ghost may more easily be our companion. By our fast, we both keep our covenant to care for others and we prepare to keep our covenant to bear testimony.
“Those who have prepared carefully for the fast and testimony meeting won’t need to be reminded how to bear testimony should they feel impressed to do it in the meeting. They won’t give sermons nor exhortations nor travel reports nor try to entertain as they bear witness. Because they will have already expressed appreciation to people privately, they will have less need to do it publicly. Neither will they feel a need to use eloquent language or to go on at length.”2
As we all strive to put of the natural man, keep in mind the power of fasting. I love this article because it always gets me excited to fast and reminds me why it’s so important.