In the time of the Savior, his disciples came to him with concerns about their inability to heal certain sick people. Jesus himself healed these sick and then, in response to questions from His disciples as to why they were unable to provide the healing blessings, the Savior gently taught, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting ”(Mark 9:29).
In the Book of Mormon, the sons of Mosiah and the son of Alma (also called Alma) had a joyful missionary reunion after some seventeen years of missionary service. Alma was thrilled to see that his brethren were still faithful in the Gospel. “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…” (Alma 17: 3).
In our day, the Lord counseled the Saints through the prophet Joseph Smith to “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith…” (D&C 88:119).
Clearly, in every age and whenever the Gospel has been on the earth, the Lord has asked his children to fast and pray for increased spiritual power and added blessings.
In the Church currently, the first Sabbath day of each month is set aside for the purpose of fasting. During this time, Church members go without food and water for twenty-four hours. They then contribute the money that they would have spent on food for those meals to the Church. This money is called a fast offering. The Church uses the fast offerings to assist the poor and needy.
Individual and family self-reliance are built upon correct principles such as work, thrift, industry, and education. In addition, the Lord has made it abundantly clear that our faith will be made manifest as we act and pay our tithes and offerings. The faithful practice of fasting each month and then offering a fast offering to the Lord through the bishop or branch president will do much to bless the lives of our members and to help them to walk out of the shadow of poverty.
Many faithful members are able to join with us, the Area Presidency, in testifying to the power and truthfulness of this divine principle. We promise that the Lord will “…open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). We further promise that you “… shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge…”(DC 89:19) as the Lord blesses you and your family with an increased measure of his spirit.
The Law of the Fast is a blessing from a loving Heavenly Father to His children. It is accessible to every member and is a key that will help to unlock the door to spiritual and temporal self-reliance. It is our deepest desire that all members of the Church in Africa may receive these great blessings through obedience to the Law of the Fast. May the Lord help us to do so is our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.