Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Law of the Fast

A collection of quotes by church leaders on this great subject of fasting.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members are encouraged to fast whenever their faith needs special fortification and to fast regularly once each month on fast day. On that day, we go without eating or drinking for two consecutive meals, commune with our Heavenly Father, and contribute a fast offering to help the poor. The offering should be at least equal to the value of the food that would have been eaten. Typically, the first Sunday of each month is designated as fast Sunday. On that day, members who are physically able are encouraged to fast, pray, bear witness to the truthfulness of the gospel, and pay a generous fast offering. “The law of the fast,” taught Elder Milton R. Hunter, “is probably as old as the human family. … In ancient times, prophet-leaders repeatedly gave to church members the commandment to observe the law of fasting and praying.” 3

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.

Fasting and prayer can help develop within us courage and confidence. It can strengthen our character and build self-restraint and discipline. Often when we fast, our righteous prayers and petitions have greater power. Testimonies grow. We mature spiritually and emotionally and sanctify our souls. Each time we fast, we gain a little more control over our worldly appetites and passions." Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, May 2001, 73

The Prophet Joseph Smith

“Let this be an [example] to all saints, and there will never be any lack for bread: When the poor are starving, let those who have, fast one day and give what they otherwise would have eaten to the bishops for the poor, and every one will abound for a long time. … And so long as the saints will all live to this principle with glad hearts and cheerful countenances they will always have an abundance.” (History of the Church, 7:413)

Elder L. Tom Perry

"The law of the fast is basic in the Church. Isaiah declared:

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen?

“… Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry?” (Isa. 58:6–7.)

Like many other biblical practices, it was restored by the Lord in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

The law of the fast has three great purposes. First, it provides assistance to the needy through the contribution of fast offerings, consisting of the value of meals from which we abstain. Second, a fast is beneficial to us physically. Third, it is to increase humility and spirituality on the part of each individual.

An important reason for fasting is to contribute the amount saved from the meals not eaten to care for the poor and the needy. One of the strongest admonitions the Lord has given to His children on earth is that we have the responsibility and obligation of caring for those in need. It was King Benjamin who said in his great address, “And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.” (Mosiah 4:26.)

Do we need to be reminded that included in our baptismal covenant is our pledge to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light, to mourn with those that mourn, and to comfort those that stand in need of comfort? (See Mosiah 18:8–9.)

The longer I live, the more impressed I am with the Lord’s system of caring for the poor and needy. Surely no man would think of such a simple yet profound way of satisfying human needs—to grow spiritually and temporally through periodic fasting and then donating the amount saved from refraining from partaking of those meals to the bishop to be used to administer to the needs of the poor, the ill, the downtrodden, who need help and support to make their way through life." L. Tom Perry, “The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, May 1986, 31

The Prophet Isaiah (in speaking of the blessings that come from fasting:)

"8 ¶ 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.
9 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;
10 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:
11 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 58:8-11

Pres. Marion G. Romney

"We should all give some attention to fasting. We haven’t really called on the Lord so that we can reach him intimately if we don’t fast occasionally, and pray often. Many of our personal problems can be solved by so doing. Do you remember what the Savior said to his disciples who couldn’t cast out the evil spirit, after they had asked why they couldn’t do it when Jesus had done it so easily? He replied, “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (Matt. 17:21.) Marion G. Romney, “The Blessing of the Fast,” Tambuli, Dec 1982, 2

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“What would happen if the principles of fast day and the fast offering were observed throughout the world[?] The hungry would be fed, the naked clothed, the homeless sheltered. … A new measure of concern and unselfishness would grow in the hearts of people everywhere.” (“The State of the Church,” Ensign, May 1991, 52–53.)

Thorpe B. Isaacson

“Fasting, with prayer, its companion, is designed to increase spirituality, to foster a spirit of devotion and a love of God, to increase faith in the hearts of men, thus assuring divine favor; to encourage humility and contrition of soul; to aid in the acquirement of righteousness; and to teach man his nothingness and dependence upon God; and to hasten along the path of salvation those who properly comply with this law of fasting” (, in Conference Report, Apr. 1962, p. 67; or Improvement Era, June 1962, p. 438).

Sterling W. Sill

“This law of the fast can also be a kind of schoolmaster. If we can learn to live it effectively, it will help us to keep every other law better because of the power and faith that will be generated in us as a natural consequence of our living this important law!” (Sterling W. Sill, “The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, July 1974, p. 11).


Looney said...

Bede's book that I have been reading talks a lot about fasting. A major part of the purpose is to demonstrate mastery over human desires so that they never interfere with serving the Lord.

Delirious said...

Yes, we believe that too. It gives our spirit power over our physical body, and helps us learn discipline. As mentioned in these quotes, we fast the first Sunday of every month, and donate the money that would have been used to buy food for those who are in need. I do believe that great spiritual strength comes from fasting.