What Is Fasting (and Why Should I Do It)?

We can draw upon the powers of heaven when we fast according to three gospel principles.

"Proper fasting magnifies our ability to pray, study, and teach." -Shayne M. Bowen

photo by aaron burden

Latter-day Saints aren’t the only people who associate fasting with spiritual meaning. Many other Christians, as well as many believers who practice Judaism or Islam, abstain from eating at certain times of the year to commemorate key religious events, to donate funds to the poor, and to draw closer to God.

The Latter-day Saint concept of fasting is similar. As indicated in “Fasting and Fast Offerings,” an article on lds.org, “In the Church today, one Sabbath day each month is set aside for the purpose of fasting. Members of the Church go without food and water for two consecutive meals in a 24-hour period and then contribute the money that would have been spent for that food to those in need (see Alma 34:28).”

Another focus for Latter-day Saints is the emphasis we place on the divine power that each of us can receive individually from fasting. In his article “Fasting with Power,” Elder Shayne M. Bowen explains that fasting allows us to “call down the powers of heaven” when we follow these three key principles of fasting:

  1. Offer a generous fast offering. The power of fasting comes when we not only fast but also offer a generous fast offering, usually a monetary contribution, to those in need. “When we bless others, God blesses us,” Elder Bowen says. The size of our offering depends on our individual circumstances and income, but giving even a small amount will bless us and those who receive it.
  2. Do our part though hard work. “To develop spiritual strength,” Elder Bowen explains, “we need to do our part. . . . In my experience, miracles are always found through obedience and hard work.” While that hard work might not happen during our actual fast, the combination of our fasting and action will allow miracles to happen in our lives.
  3. Seek personal revelation. “Proper fasting magnifies our ability to pray, study, and teach.” When we pray as we fast, our ability to receive and share personal revelation is increased.

Elder Bowen promises that when we offer a generous fast offering, act on our faith, and seek God’s help, God will give us power, “not only the power to overcome all of our sins but also light, health, and righteousness in our lives.” Whether we want help overcoming an obstacle or added insight to make an important decision, we can fast according to these principles and “approach [God] with complete faith and confidence” that he will give us the power we need.

Read more about the power of fasting in Elder Shayne M. Bowen’s Ensign article, “Fasting with Power.”

Source: LDS.org

—Stephanie Fudge, Mormon Insights

feature image by matt jones

Find more insights

Read “Fasting and Fast Offerings” in True to the Faith to learn more about the basics of fasting.  

Learn more about the miracles of fasting by reading Po Nien (Felipe) Chou and Petra Chou’s Ensign article, “Like the Widow of Zarephath: The Miracle of Fast Offerings.”

Read or watch President Henry B. Eyring’s general conference talk “Is Not This the Fast That I Have Chosen?” to learn how fasting can heal and change our hearts.

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