Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fast Sunday

Throughout the church, we have a practice of observing a fast. This is typically done on the first Sunday of the month. This observance includes not eating or drinking anything for 2 meals, in a 24 hour period. Usually we begin our fast on Saturday night after our evening meal, and end our fast at dinner on Sunday night. During our fast we pray, and through this prayer and fasting we grow spiritually.

Another aspect to our "Fast Sunday" is a testimony meeting at church. We forgo the normal talks that are usually given, and members are given the opportunity during our Sacrament meeting to come to the pulpit and bear their testimonies. Through the bearing of testimonies, all are strengthened, both the one bearing testimony, and the listener.

An important part of our fast is the giving of "fast offerings". Members who participate in the fast contribute the cost of the meals they give up to the Church for distribution to those who are in need. This is usually done in the form of food from the Bishop's storehouse. Pres. Marion G. Romney wrote, "To ancient Israel the Lord put the question:

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? …

“… 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? …

“When thou hast done these things],” he added, “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.

“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. …

“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.” (Isa. 58:6–10.)

Think of these wonderful blessings. They are all promised to those who generously contribute to the care of the poor.

“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.” (Isa. 58:11.)

I remember that a long time ago, over sixty years in fact, when Elder Melvin J. Ballard (former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) laid his hands on my head and set me apart to go on a mission, he said in the blessing he gave me that a person could not give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf of bread in return. And that has been my experience." Marion G. Romney, “The Blessing of the Fast,” Tambuli, Dec 1982, 2 By giving of our means to those in need, we are blessed spiritually.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught, "We observe that in the scriptures, fasting almost always is linked with prayer. Without prayer, fasting is not complete fasting; it’s simply going hungry. If we want our fasting to be more than just going without eating, we must lift our hearts, our minds, and our voices in communion with our Heavenly Father. Fasting, coupled with mighty prayer, is powerful. It can fill our minds with the revelations of the Spirit. It can strengthen us against times of temptation." Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, May 2001, 73

I invite you to attend one of our Fast Sunday testimony meetings. Each person bearing testimony speaks according to the feelings that are in them. The spirit is usually in abundance at these meetings. If you feel inclined, you may also want to fast in preparation for attendance. I feel confident that you also will feel the flowing of the spirit on this special day.

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