Today is Fast Sunday! I know what that means to me. But, what does it mean to you?
According to LDS.org, "To fast is to go without food and drink voluntarily for a certain period of time. Fasting combined with sincere prayer can strengthen us spiritually, bring us closer to God, and help us prepare ourselves and others to receive His blessings."
In the April 2001 General Conference, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared his insight into fasting and prayer. His words follow:
"In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members are encouraged to fast whenever their faith needs special fortification and to fast regularly once each month on fast day. On that day, we go without eating or drinking for two consecutive meals, commune with our Heavenly Father, and contribute a fast offering to help the poor. The offering should be at least equal to the value of the food that would have been eaten. Typically, the first Sunday of each month is designated as fast Sunday. On that day, members who are physically able are encouraged to fast, pray, bear witness to the truthfulness of the gospel, and pay a generous fast offering. “The law of the fast,” taught Elder Milton R. Hunter, “is probably as old as the human family. … In ancient times, prophet-leaders repeatedly gave to church members the commandment to observe the law of fasting and praying.”
We observe that in the scriptures, fasting almost always is linked with prayer. Without prayer, fasting is not complete fasting; it’s simply going hungry. If we want our fasting to be more than just going without eating, we must lift our hearts, our minds, and our voices in communion with our Heavenly Father. Fasting, coupled with mighty prayer, is powerful. It can fill our minds with the revelations of the Spirit. It can strengthen us against times of temptation."
Fasting is not simply going hungry for two meals because it is a commandment, or because we have to fast; we fast to help others and to help ourselves. By giving money or resources to the church instead of spending the money on food for ourselves, we are able to help the church to help those in need. By fasting, we are better able to maintain control and power over our bodies, which so often are weaker than the mind and spirit. By fasting and prayer, we are able to more fully and readily feel the Spirit, receive revelation and answers to specific prayers, and acquire a greater relationship with our Heavenly Father.
For more information on fasting, please see LDS.org and visit the full General Conference talk by Elder Wirthlin here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/04/the-law-of-the-fast?lang=eng&query=fast
Sources LDS.org for definition and General Conference talk