To prepare for my baptism I fasted from food and drink for 24 hours. Afterward, my bologna sandwich and red punch were steak and ambrosia. So it is with hunger: The real feast is not only in the menu, but the appetite.

The scriptures are replete with references to appetite. For Christians, our charge is to "hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matthew 5:6) and to "feast upon the word of Christ" (2 Nephi 31:20).

As we feed the spirit, it nourishes us. Conversely, as we feed the natural man it cannibalizes us.

A race car named desire

Just as appetite breeds loyalty for the thing desired, so unbridled appetite divides our loyalty. When that happens, we often procrastinate worthier pursuits.

Some years ago I was the home teacher to a man we’ll call Ted. He had a lovely wife and sweet toddler daughter.

Ted’s hunger was car racing. What started as a hobby on the weekends ballooned into an obsession. The more Ted fed his hunger for car racing, the more he neglected his family and church responsibilities.

Ted was always going to return to church after the stock-car season; always going to teach his daughter about God when he hung up his helmet; always going to be an eternal family when...

Sadly, Ted’s life ended during the third turn of his final race. Time had run out, mortality was over and the detour of diversion waived the checkered flag of no return.

In the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, the prophet Amulek declared, "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors" (Alma 34:32).

Feed or starve

Beyond procrastination is the question of desire itself. All people have appetites; without them we face extinction. For the spiritually astute, God’s nourishing garden is easier to cultivate and digest when we develop an appetite for selflessness.

Our choice is not between unbridled desire at one end of our appetites and a monastic life at the other end. By nourishing our souls on a balanced diet of faith, service, work and wholesome recreation, we starve the natural man by design.

Since everyone has the precious gifts of time and choice, we must decide for ourselves when and how to use those precious gifts. "True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives — that is, our time and choices — to God’s purposes" (Elder D. Todd Christopherson, "Reflections on a Consecrated Life," Ensign, November, 2010).

Spiritual appetite

As we develop a taste for the sweetness of spiritual things, we are not only nourished by the feast but energized to nourish others. By contrast, when we feed our natural appetite beyond healthy need, we sometimes mistake real selfishness for self-preservation.

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What is true for our spiritual appetite is also true of faith: "And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit" (Alma 32:37). In my experience with God, faith and feasts go hand in hand.

Like the bologna sandwich and red punch of my first 24-hour fast, we can indeed feast on the sublime as we "hunger and thirst after righteousness." Only in this way are we truly filled.

William Monahan graduated from BYU law school. An Air Force veteran and former Phoenix stake president, he teaches law and serves as a high councilor for Queen Creek Chandler Heights Stake. He begins service July 2012 as a mission president.