Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and might prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God
Bear ye one anothers burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ
FASTING BY NON-MEMBERS
"The determination of the early American settlers to live the lives of practicing Christians, brought some rather amazing blessings.
In October of 1746, France assembled the largest fleet ever to be sighted from American soil and headed for Boston to avenge the defeat at Louisburg. There was no hope of matching the fleet either in cannon fire or manpower, so the Governor assembled what men and resources he could and then called for a universal day of fasting and prayer. One writer says, "ever where men observed it, thronging to the churches. In Boston the Reverend Thomas Prince from the high pulpit of the Old South Meting house, prayed before hundreds. The mourning was clear and calm, people had walked to church through sunshine. "deliver us from our enemy!" the minister implored. "Send Thy tempest, Lord, upon the waters to the eastward! Rise Thy right hand, Scatter the ships of our tormentors and drive them hence. Sink their proud frigates beneath the power of Thy winds!"
"He had scarcely pronounced
the words when the sun was gone and the morning darkened. All
the church was in a shadow. A wind shrieked around the walls,
sudden, violent, hammering at the windows with a giant hand.
No man was in the steeple - afterward the sexton swore it - yet
the great bell struck twice, a wild, uneven sound. Thomas Prince
paused in his prayer, both arms raised, "We hear Thy voice,
O Lord!" he thundered triumphantly. "We hear it! Thy
breath is upon the waters to the eastward, even upon the deep.
Thy bell tolls for the dead of our enemies!" He bowed his
head; when he looked up, tears streamed down his face. "Thine
be the glory, Lord. Amen and amen!"
.All the province
heard of this prayer and this answering tempest. Governor Shirley
sent a sloop, the Rising Sun, northward for news
news so good it was miraculous - if on could believe it
The whole fleet was nearly lost, the men very sick with scurvy,
or some pestilential fever. Their great admiral the Duc d"Anville,
"A week later the news
was confirmed by other vessels entering Boston from the northeastward.
D'Anville was indeed dead; it was said he had poisoned himself
in grief and despair when he saw his men dying round him. Two
thousand were already buried, four thousand were sick, and not
above a thousand of the land forces remained on their fleet.
Vice-Admiral d"estournelle had run himself through the heart
with his sword. The few remaining ships, half-manned, were limping
off to the southwestward, headed it was thought for the West Indies.
"Pestilence, storm and
sudden death - hew directly and with what extra-ordinary vigor
the Lord had answered New England prayers!
"The country fell on its
A paper with d'Anvill's orders had been found, instructing
him to take Cape Breton Island, then proceed to Boston - 'lay
that Town in Ashes and destroy all he could upon the Cost of North
America; then proceed to the West Indies and distress the Islands."
JOHN ADAMS by Catherine Drinker Bowen
Grosset & Dunlap, N.Y. 1950
pages 5. 10-11HOW FASTING
WAS OBSERVED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
In biblical Hebrew, the roots
of words translated as "to fast" and "a fast"
mean primarily to go without food. Other phrases equivalent to
these occur eg: "not to eat bread" (II Sam. 12:17, I
Sam. 28:20) or "afflict oneself" (I Kings 21:29) also
"to afflict ones soul" (Lev. 16:29)
Before the exile (aprox 590
B.C.) fasting was undoubtedly practiced from the earliest times
in Israel though there is little or no indication that before
the exile it was considered to be in itself a meritorious pious
practice. The mention of fasting by individuals is always connected
with some particular occasion and was usually accompanied by other
forms of humiliation (like wearing sackcloth etc.). The purpose
of fasting seems to have been to excite the pity or compassion
of the Almighty in moments of distress or penitence. (see II
Sam 12:16-23) This shows that fasting was a normal mourning custom.
(see also I Kings 21:27; Dan 10:2)
Fasting was also according to
the most ancient records and traditions, used as a preparation
for the attempt to receive communications from God in dreams and
visions (Exodus 34:28; I Kings 19:8). Public fasts also occurred
in connection with the Mosiac code, and at times of distress (see
Judges 20:26; I Sam. 31:13; I Sam 7:6)
After the Exile, the fast seems
to have retained its old uses but new ones seem to have been added.
(old uses: Ezra 10:6; Neh. 1:4; Dan 9:33; Dan 10:3 etc) It became
the custom of the "pious" to fast on the second and
fifth days of the week and the especially devout might fast even
more (note Luke 18:12; Job 12:8) The Emperor Augusts is claimed
to have said, boasting, that he "fasted more than a Jew".
In these later times the prophets condemned the insincerity with
which fasting was practiced (Joel 2:12-13). As Jesus taught the
worth of fasting, as of any other act, lies in the devotion of
which it is an expression, without such devotion it is of itself
A typical fast in old testament
times was for a single day, with abstinence lasting until sunset.
Sacrificing was commonly practiced as well during times of fasting.
(Lev. 16, Judges 20:26). Other practices during fasting, and fasting
from water and wind are mentioned (I Sam 7:6; Dan 10:3; Jonah
3:5, 7-8); II Sam 12:16; Isa 58:1-5, Joel 2:12-13; Zechariah 7:1-7)
FASTING AS TAUGHT IN THE NEW
EXAMPLES OF FASTING
Matt 4:2 Jesus fasted 40 days & nights before beginning his ministry
Matt 6:16-18 Christ's advice on how to fast - part of sermon on the mount
Luke18:10-14 parable of the pharisees - fasting to be done only in righteousness
Matt 12:40-45 Some things can be accomplished only by a combination of fasting and prayer
Acts 10:30 Cornellus the centurion was fasting when the angel appeared to him
Acts 13:1-3 Early church apostles
fasted before making the decision on who would take Judas' place
Matt 4:2, and
Matt 12:40-45 Gain extra strength
Acts 10:30 Seeking truth and information
Acts 13:1-3 For help in making decisions
Matt 9:14-15 For mourning purposes
HOW TO FAST
Matt 6:16-17 Appear not unto men to fast
Luke 14:12-14 Let your father in Heaven give you a reward not man
Luke 18:10-14 fast not to exalt
THE PRINCIPLE OF FASTING IN THE
BOOK OF MORMON
Omni 1:26 Teaches us the necessity of continuing in fasting and prayer
Mosiah 27:14 Prayer and fasting can influence others to know the truth
Mosiah 27:22-23 Alma and the Priests were able to give Alma the yonger strength by fasting and praying or him.
Alma 5:45-46 Receive a testamony by fasting and prayer
Alma 6:6 Commanded to fast and pray for others
Alma 8:26 Alma used fasting to get back into the city and to meet Amulek
Alma 10:7 Amulek reactivated by Almas fasting and prayer for him
Alma 17:3 much prayer and fasting brings spirit of prophecy and revelation and the powere to teach with the authority of God.
Alma 45:1 Fasting and Prayer is a way to worship and express joy
Heleman 3:34-35 fasting and Prayer bring purification and sanctification through humility and faith
3 Neph 13:16-22 The Savior's explanation of the correct way to fast
4 Nephi 1:12 The need to continue
to fast and pray and meet together
FASTING AS IT RELATES TO FAST
"Let us not forget that
brothers and sisters [helping poor and needy], in this age when
the matter of living from the labors of somebody else is almost
universal. It wont last. When you get more idle than there are
workers, there won't be enough to go around. We must be builders
of character in our distribution as well as in our production
we make all of these work [the three welfare programs of the church]
brothers and sisters, as they should be to the blessing of those
who give and the glorification of those who receive, we will be
ready for the coming of the savior
Marion G. Romney
The very foundation of the welfare
services program is to help people help themselves. In connection
with this, properly used, every human need can be met through
the welfare services program.
Marvin J. Ashton
Last year we drew on the tithing
funds of the Church for nearly three million dollars [for welfare].
Imagination doesn't have to wander very far to bring you face
to face with the serious problem we are facing concerning our
responsibility to the poor and needy.
Von J. Featherstone
I think we should be very generous
and give, instead of the amount we saved by our two meals of fasting,
perhaps much, much more - ten times more where we are in a position
to do it. I know there are some who couldn't.
President Spencer W. Kimball
We ought, and we must do better. If we will double our fast offerings, we shall increase our own prosperity, both spiritually and temporally .
Pres. Marion G. Romney
Welfare Services Meeting
6 March 1974
TRUE FASTING AND IT'S RELATIONSHIP
TO ANSWER TO PRAYER
And now behold, my beloved brethren,
I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye
have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the
naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your
substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need - I say unto
you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is
vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do
deny the faith."
Pure religion and undefiled
before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and
widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from
If you would qualify so that
in times of trouble you could call and the Lord would say, "here
I am" the Lord gave the answer through his prophet isaiah;
You must observe the fst day of the Lord and deal out your "bread
to the hungry
and that thou hide not thyself from thine
own flesh" (see Isaiah 58:3-16)
President Harold B. Lee
Era Dec 1968 page 72
Yes the law of the fast is a
perfect law, and we can not begin to approach perfection until
we decide to make it a part of our lives
. The world needs
self-discipline. You can find it in fasting and prayer. Our
generation is sick for lack of self-control. Fasting and prayer
help to instill this virtue. We all have need to overcome the
powers of the adversary. His influence is incompatible with fasting
Robert L. Simpson
October 1967 page 16-19
Therefore, if any man shall
take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion,
according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy,
he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in
THE SPIRITUAL BENEFITS OF FASTING
Many specific reasons for fasting
are found in the scriptures. It is a general obligation imposed
by revelation upon church members in good standing (D&C 59:13-14;
88:76; Luke 5:33-35; 2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27). It is itself a form
of the true worship of God (Luke 2:37; Acts 9:9; Alma 45;1; 4
nephi 1:12). It is proper to fast for the sick (2 Sam 12:16);
for special blessings (Mosiah 27:22-23) to gain a testimony (alma
5:45); to gain revelation (alma 17:3; 3 Nephi 27:1; exodus 34:28:
Deut 9:9,18); for the conversion of nonmembers to the truth (alma
6:6; 17:9); for guidance in the choice of church officers (Acts
13:3); as an accompaniment of righteous mourning and sorrow (Alma
28:2-6; 30:2; Helaman 9:10); as a means of sanctifying one's soul
(Helaman 3:35); and for guidance along the path leading to salvation
(Omni 1:26). Temples are houses of fasting and prayer (D&C
88:119; 95:16; 109;8,16). To be acceptable, fasting must be done
correctly (Matt 6:16-18; 3 Nep 13:16-18). (also see Joseph F.
Smith, Gospel Doctrine pages 287-8, 243-4).
THE SPIRITUAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL
BENEFITS OF FASTING
Many specific reasons for fasting
are found in the scriptures. We are told that fasting will help
us to feel humility which enables us to then pray in faith. Fasting
therefor should be done in secret not before the world (see Matt
6:16-18). The Lord invites us to fast with promised blessings
from Him for doing so (see D&C 59:13-14; 88:76; Luke 5:33-35;
2Cor 6:5; 11:27). It is itself a form of the true worship of God
(see Luke 2:37; Acts 9:9; Alma 45:1; 4 Ne 1:12). He tells us it
is proper to fast for the sick (see 2 Sam 12:16); for special
blessings (see Mosiah 27:22-23) to gain a testimony (see Alma
5:46); to gain revelation (see Alma 17:3; 3 Ne 27:1; Exodus 34:28;
Deut 9:9,18); for the conversion of non-members to the truth (see
Alma 6:6; 17:9); for the guidance in the choice of church officers
(see Acts 13:3); as an accompaniment of righteous mourning and
sorrow (see Alma 28:2-6; 30:2; Helaman 9:10); as a means of sanctifying
one's soul (see Helaman 3:35); as a way to bring a special,
personal communication between you and the Lord (see 3 Ne 13:16-18);
and for guidance along the path leading to salvation (see Omni
1:26). We are also told that temples are houses of fasting and
prayer (see D&C 88:119; 95:16; 109:8,16) For further information
about fasting, see also Joseph F. Smith, Joseph F. Smith, Gospel
Doctrine, 5th Ed., [S.L.C.:Deseret Book Co., 1939], pg.
243-4, 287-8 and the Topical Guide in the back of the Latter-day
Saint edition of the King James version of the Bible.
"Overeating clogs the system with deleterious waste products. When such a condition exists, a short fast is useful as a means of restoring the body to its normal active state."
President David O. McKay,
Conference Report, Apr. 1932.
"I want to say to you, my good brethren, we cannot have the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we ought to have it if we do not fast as the Lord required it of us; not extensive fasts, but the fast which has been set apart which we should do in wisdom."
President Joseph Fielding Smith,
Conference Report, Apr. 1940.
"The law of the fast is
another test. If we merely go without food to supply welfare funds,
it is much of the letter, but IN REAL FASTING, for spiritual
blessings, come self-mastery and increased spirituality. 'Two
men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the
other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,
God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners,
unjust adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the
week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing
afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but
smote upon his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than
the other: for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased;
and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.' (Luke 18:10-14)
Are we interested in what we can get or are we interested in what
we can give?"
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Conference Report, Oct. 1951.
UNDERSTANDING THE WORDS OF ISAIAH
ON FASTING ISAIAH 58:3-16
3. We have afflicted our soul,
and thou takest no knowledge?
4. Behold, ye fast for strife
5. Is it such a fast that I have chosen .. .. Dont
Afflict soul/bow head/sackcloth/
6. Loose the bands of wickedness, to undo .. Do
heavy burdens, let oppressed go free,
break every yoke.
7. Deal bread to hungry, bring poor to your Do
house, cover the naked, hide not thyself
from own flesh.
8. Light shall break forth as morning, health shall . Blessing
spring forth speedly, righteousness shall go
before thee, glory of Lord be
9. Call and Lord shall answer, cry and He .. Blessing
shall say "here I am"
10. Light shall rise in obscurity, thy . Blessing
darkness be as the noonday
11. Lord shall guide thee continually, . Blessing
satisfy thy soul in drought, make fat
thy bones, shall be like a watered
garden, be like a spring of water
whose waters fail not
12. They that shall be of thee shall build Blessing
the old wast place, thou shalt rise up
the foundations of many generations,
shall be called the repairer of the
breach, the restorer of paths
to dwell in.
Some other scriptures on fasting:
21 And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that
knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth
these things, save it be the penitent.
22 Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth
forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing--unto
such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such
it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed;
yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls
to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these
our brethren to repentance.
20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his
name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered
that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit
upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with
joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye
could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent
for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto
you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that
ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance
that ye have one to another.
15 Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve
our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto
me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye
shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.
62 And again, verily I say unto you, my friends, I leave these
sayings with you to ponder in your hearts, with this commandment
which I give unto you, that ye shall call upon me while I am near--
63 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently
and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it
shall be opened unto you.
64 Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given
unto you, that is expedient for you;
65 And if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall
turn unto your condemnation.
27 Wherefore, he is possessor of all things; for all things are
subject unto him, both in heaven and on the earth, the life and
the light, the Spirit and the power, sent forth by the will of
the Father through Jesus Christ, his Son.
28 But no man is possessor of all things except he be purified
and cleansed from all sin.
29 And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall
ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.
30 But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask; and
as ye are appointed to the head, the spirits shall be subject
5 Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and
am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give
you the kingdom.
6 And, as it is written--Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being
united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive.
"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...
"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...
"And it came to pass that
they journeyed many days in the wilderness, AND THEY FASTED
MUCH AND PRAYED MUCH that the Lord would grant unto them a
portion of His spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that
they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it
were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge
of the truth...."
"...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 WHO KNEW NOT GOD."
14 And again, the angel said:
Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also
the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has
prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought
to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have
I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that
the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their
20 And they rehearsed unto his
father all that had happened unto them; and his father rejoiced,
for he knew that it was the power of God.
21 And he caused that a multitude
should be gathered together that they might witness what the Lord
had done for his son, and also for those that were with him.
22 And he caused that the priests
should assemble themselves together; and they began to fast, and
to pray to the Lord their God that he would open the mouth of
Alma, that he might speak, and also that his limbs might receive
their strength--that the eyes of the people might be opened to
see and know of the goodness and glory of God.
23 And it came to pass after
they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights,
the limbs of Alma received their strength, and he stood up and
began to speak unto them, bidding them to be of good comfort:
24 For, said he, I have repented
of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born
of the Spirit.
Some other statements on fasting
by general authorities:
"I have had problems which
it seemed I could not solve, and I have suffered in facing them
until it seemed I could not go further if I did not have a solution
to them. After praying AND ON MANY OCCASIONS FASTING FOR A
DAY EACH WEEK OVER LONG PERIODS OF TIME, I have had answers
revealed to my mind in finished sentences. I have heard the voice
of God in my mind and I know His words."
Marion G. Romney
Melchizedek Priesthood Manual
1976-1977, pg. 39.