'The Lord has given us something that we each can do without constraint. It is a commandment with a wonderful promise for those in need and for us. It is the law of the fast. (Henry B. Eyring, ' Is Not This the Fast That I Have Chosen? ' Liahona, May 2015, P.22)
This reminder from President Henry B. Eyring is one of the pillars of the Africa South-east Area plan. It includes helping members become spiritually and temporally self-reliant by fasting and giving generous fast offerings.
Observing the law of the fast is an opportunity and a blessing for all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to improve individual and family Sabbath day worship and sacrament meetings.
Heavenly Father’s purpose in giving the law of the fast to us is to make each member happy, help them gain increased spiritual gospel strength, and lay a foundation of faith that can serve as a support for future generations and the rapid growth of the Church.
Therefore, the Lord has commanded the saints to “look to the poor and the needy, and administer to their relief that they shall not suffer” (D&C 38:35). In this regard, President Thomas S. Monson has taught: “Remember the principle of the true fast. Is it not to deal our bread to the hungry, to bring to our own house the poor who are outcast, to clothe the naked, to hide not ourself from our own flesh? “
To encourage members of the Church to observe the law of the fast and to receive God’s promises, prophetic and apostolic priorities require that we teach the fundamental principles of the law of the fast.
These prophetic and apostolic priorities are for us a sure foundation by which we can sincerely love and serve one another by building our spiritual and temporal self-reliance. It is in some way a demonstration of the establishment of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our hearts and the Church on a sure foundation.
The fundamental principles of the law of the fast include:
- Abstaining from food and drink for a 24-hour period
- Attending fast and testimony meeting
- Giving a generous fast offering to help care for those in need (Handbook 2, Section 21.1.17)
1. ABSTAINING FROM FOOD AND DRINK IN A 24-HOUR PERIOD
To draw closer to God on the fast day and ask Him for His blessings, the Lord asks us to abstain from eating and drinking for two consecutive meals in a 24-hour period.
In addition, we must pray to understand God’s will and gain a greater spiritual strength. Obedience to the commandments of the Lord will strengthen us
Fasting thus becomes a means by which we manifest our burning desire and commitment to draw closer to God.
2. ATTENDING FAST AND TESTIMONY MEETING
In the Church, the first Sunday of the month is a day set aside for fasting. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord has declared that “verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labours, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:10).
For this day to be sanctified, the Lord asks us to offer our oblations and our sacraments unto Him, so that we can draw closer to the Lord and prove that our heart is edified by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Also, the Lord added that on this day we shall do none other thing, only let our food be prepared with singleness of heart that our fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that our joy may be full (D&C 59:13). This joy is to realize that as we draw nearer to God, we can ask Him for His promises without doubting, and testify from the heart by sharing our faith-building experiences.
3. GIVING A GENEROUS FAST OFFERING
When members fast, they are asked to give to the Church a value at least equal to the cost of food and drink they would have eaten. If possible, they should be generous and give more (Handbook 2, Section 6.1.2).
When we do not live the law of the fast, we deliberately rob our Heavenly Father and are not eligible to draw closer to God and ask Him for His promised blessings (Malachi 3: 8; D&C130: 19-21).
May we be diligent in fasting properly so that we can enjoy the Lord’s blessings. If our fast is insincere, it will not benefit us spiritually or temporally (Isaiah 58: 2-5). The Lord has declared that if a man offereth a gift, without real intent, it profiteth him nothing.
We can ask the Lord to bless us with the ability we need to perform a true fast in the Saviour’s way. It is after properly and sincerely fasting that we can call and cry unto God, and He shall answer us and say 'Here I am' (Isaiah 58: 9).
I know that the law of the fast is a means by which we can draw closer to God and ask Him for His promises. It is a symbol of our Church membership and a commitment to God our Eternal Father.
My deepest conviction prompts me to testify that when we sincerely observe the law of the fast by living it, we draw nearer to the Lord, can ask Him for His promises and gain an increased spiritual strength which can help us resist Satan’s temptations, improve our temporal well-being, develop greater compassion, and strengthen our desire to serve our Lord Jesus Christ.
We sincerely fast when we fully obey the fundamental principles of the law of the fast by yielding our heart to the Lord. By observing the law of the fast, we gain the ability to be humble in keeping God’s commandments, and being firm in the faith in Christ to the point that our hearts will be purified and sanctified.