If I’ve opened a fast, what are the consequences if I forget that I’m fasting and then eat something?
Let’s take a moment and consider the purposes of fasting. First, we are showing devotion to our Father in Heaven, thereby drawing nearer unto Him. Second, we are exercising discipline and obedience. Third, we are learning dependence on our Father in Heaven in all things. Fourth, fasting is meant to be purposeful, in that we often pair it with a desire, and it is tied closely to prayer. And finally, we are saving money that we can donate as fast offerings to help the poor and the needy.
So consider: Would any of these purposes be thwarted by a slip up and then continuation of the fast?
I think it can be seen plainly that even with a mistake, if we continue our fast with humble hearts our purposes in fasting can still be accomplished.
There is also a good lesson herein concerning repentance. We should fast perfectly, of course. If we do not, correcting the mistake and moving on in the right way seems perfectly in line with the principle of repentance. Accordingly, we can expect that our Father in Heaven, upon this simple repentant act, will wash our stains (even if those stains are cheese-puff stained finger tips) so that we can be clean again. (Symbolically, of course. You’ll have to wash the orange fingers on your own.)
If we approach our fast with the right attitude and humility, it can be a great blessing. Isaiah promised concerning the fast, “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 reward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:8–9).
What a great blessing!
I have been guilty of accidental eating when fasting too. It happens. I’ve been known to lick a mixing-spoon, and then run to the sink, spit out the cake batter, and quickly rinse out my mouth. That reaction is probably overkill. But I believe that my sincere efforts to continue my fast faithfully, even when having made a mistake, has greatly blessed my life.