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.