The Law of the Fast

– As promised, here is my talk from Sunday pretty much just as I gave it. However, as I gave it over the pulpit, I may have added a few things here or there. I added those as best as I could remember. I normally don’t write out my talk completely, but this time I did for some reason. I hope you find it helpful and uplifting. Enjoy. –

The Law of the Fast

A talk prepared and given by Kevin Earl in the Duncanville YSA Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

23 January 2011

All month we have discussed the Sabbath day in sacrament meeting. We have learned its purpose and how to make the most out of it.

Today, I would like to share with you another law of the gospel that is closely tied with our Sabbath worship, or at least 25 percent of them, and about a commandment that when observed with “thanksgiving and cheerful hearts,” as the Lord told the church in the 59th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, we shall receive “the fullness of the Earth” and as Isaiah wrote (Isaiah 58:8-11)

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.

These wonderful blessings have been promised to us if we faithfully keep the law of the fast.

Throughout the scriptures we read examples of God’s children living this commandment and being counseled to live it. We can learn from them the importance of fasting, how we live the law properly and how we can be blessed when we live it.

Simply defined, fasting is a voluntary absence of food. We read that the Savior, himself, fasted to draw closer to his Father (Matthew 4:2). It is a commandment issued in the ancient church (Alma 6:6)

6. Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.

And through modern revelation we received the same commandment (D&C 88:76)

76. Also, I give unto you a commandment that ye shall continue in prayer and fasting from this time forth.

The savior taught us that we should not fast to be seen of others (Matt 6:16-18) He also said the following through modern revelation (D&C 59:14-15)

14. Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.

15And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances … with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—

Through fasting we can gain great spiritual power and blessings. By fasting we submit our will to the father’s, humbling ourselves before him. Just as the Nephites did in the Book of Helaman (Hel 3:35)

35. Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.

We can also read about the sons of Mosiah who taught and brought to Christ thousands while laboring among the Lamanites (Alma 17:2-3)

2. Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.

3. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.

Isaiah tells us of the great blessings that come from fasting as I read earlier they include: revelations, understanding, physical health, mental clarity, light, and answered prayers. (Isaiah 58:8-11)

The Book of Mormon prophet Alma is a great example of living the law of the fast. He truly understood the power of fasting. When his son was struck as if dead after seeing an angel, he led his priests in two days of fasting and prayer. His son, Alma, woke having found a remission of sins and hope in and through Jesus Christ.

Alma, who was taught by Abinadi in King Noah’s court, had to find out just like we do if what was being taught was true. He explains that he gained his testimony of the gospel through fasting and prayer (Alma 5:45-46)

45. And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?

46. Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

We can fast anytime not just when it is organized, but anytime we need an answer to prayer or to be strengthened. It is a great blessing. However, to live the law of the fast as it has been revealed through modern prophets, we, as a church, are to set aside a day of fasting, one Sunday each month. This is fast Sunday and is generally on the first Sunday of the month.

Gospel Principles tells us about fast Sunday:

One Sunday each month Latter-day Saints observe a fast day. On this day we neither eat nor drink for two consecutive meals. If we were to eat our evening meal on Saturday, then we would not eat or drink until the evening meal on Sunday. All members who are physically able should fast. We should encourage our children to fast after they have been baptized, but we should never force them. The fast day is a special day for us to humble ourselves before the Lord in fasting and prayer. It is a day to pray for forgiveness from our sins and for the power to overcome our faults and to forgive others. (“Chapter 25: Fasting,” Gospel Principles, (2009))

As part of this fast Sunday worship, we are told to pay fast offerings through our priesthood leaders. This practice of giving to the poor while fasting is not new. Isaiah said (Isaiah 58:7)

7. Is it not 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; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Isaiah wrote of fasting and caring for the poor as one. That those who have should give to those who have not and that is part of a whole and complete fast.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles said the purpose of giving a fast offering is to bless the poor.

“Fast offerings are used for one purpose only: to bless the lives of those in need. Every dollar given to the bishop as a fast offering goes to assist the poor. When donations exceed local needs, they are passed along to fulfill the needs elsewhere.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Law of the Fast”, Ensign, May 2001, 73)

Joseph Smith taught:

“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.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Law of the Fast”, Ensign, May 2001, 73)

President Hinckley said:

“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.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Law of the Fast”, Ensign, May 2001, 73)

Our fast offering should at least be the money we would have used for the meals we are missing as we observe fast Sunday, but we are encouraged to give generously:

“Be liberal in your giving, that you yourselves may grow. Don’t give just for the benefit of the poor, but give for your own welfare. Give enough so that you can give yourself into the kingdom of God through consecrating of your means and your time.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Law of the Fast”, Ensign, May 2001, 73)

Another important part of fasting I’ve mentioned several times through this talk because they seem almost inseperable in the scriptures is prayer. For fasting to not merely be starving ourselves, we must fast prayerfully and with a purpose. We are told to fast for the welfare of “the souls who do not know God” (Alma 6:6) and for the welfare of our own souls (Moroni 6:5).

Elder Wirthlin said that fasting with prayer can strengthen us:

“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)

Let us fast with thanksgiving and cheerful hearts. Let our fasting be rejoicing and praising of our Father in Heaven. I know that as we do, we will receive the promised blessings of the fast. Again in the beautiful words of Isaiah:

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.

Our fast Sunday for February will not be on the first Sunday because of stake conference, but it will be in three weeks. As we fast as a branch and stake, I pray that we can apply these principles to open a conduit for the spirit to lift us all and teach us. I pray that fasting can be rejoicing and praising our God as it says in the scriptures.

I know that the blessings of the law of the fast are true. By prayerfully fasting we can receive strength and answers to our prayers. I know that this is a true principle that was restored in its fullness through Joseph Smith who restored the true church of Jesus Christ to the Earth.

If any of you have not received a witness of this restoration of all truth, I encourage you to fast and pray about it. I know that if you do, you too can gain that special personal witness that Jesus is the Christ and that his church has been restored. Only through the ordinances and principles of the restored gospel can we find the true happiness and joy that our Father in Heaven has in store for us.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

– I do not speak as an official of the LDS Church and this post is not sponsored by it. If you are interested in learning the views and doctrines of the LDS Church from an official source, select one of the links in this talk to visit its website or click on my “Why I’m a Mormon” Button on the sidebar. –

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.