Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Observe the Law of the Fast

Fasting is a way that God has appointed for man to receive greater faith and strength for his efforts and struggles in this life.  Fasting is going without food and drink for a period of time.  Combined with prayer it enables us to receive answers to our prayers and blessings or help for ourselves or for those in need.  Fasting helps us learn sacrifice and recognize our dependance upon God for our daily life.  We learn to be grateful for what we have even as we seek further blessings.

When we fast we should have a purpose for our fast.  We can gain greater insight and personal revelation as we ponder on and seek guidance in relation to our chosen purpose for our fast.  This purpose may be an important question or decision that you are seeking an answer for or a confirmation of.  We may also fast in behalf of those in great difficulty, such as for those that are ill.  Fasting can accompany grateful joy or deepest sorrow.

The prophet Isaiah itterated some of the Lord's purposes for the fast: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 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 58:6-7)

As we fast often, especially for others, we are moved to think less of ourselves and to have greater compassion for those who are in need.  The church sets aside the first Sunday of each month as a "Fast Sunday." (see Moroni 6:5)  On this day members fast for two consecutive meals and donate at least the cost of the meals as a "fast offering."  All of the money thus given is used to directly aid people in need, often within the communities of the donors.  Humanitarian aid is also provided worldwide by the church through these funds.

We should not put on a show of fasting, but should be humble in our demeaner and our actions.  As Christ taught: "when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.... But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:16-18)

As you fast sincerely the Lord's promised blessings of health and  righteousness will be yours.  As Isaiah also teaches "Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am."  The Lord's guidance will be ever available and we shall be "satisf[ied]... in drought, like a watered garden..."  We will be content and have the peace of the Lord, even in tribulation. (Isaiah 58:8-12)