16
Feb
10

FAST DAY

      Over the years it has been interesting to hear Mormons talk about fast Sunday.  For those who don’t know, the LDS Church has designated the first Sunday of the month as fast days.  This is what Gospel Principles says:  “One Sunday each month Latter-day Saints observe a fast day.  On this day we neither eat nor drink for two consecutive meals.  If we were to eat our evening meal on Saturday, then we would not eat or drink until the evening meal on Sunday.”

     As I said, the way various Mormons have described their fast practices has been interesting.  I remember one individual talking about how his family would have a very late lunch on Saturday and a very early lunch on Sunday.  But there have been others who have told me that they were very conscientious about keeping the fast.  Just this past week, a LDS man talked to me about the benefits of fasting.

     But the thing that I just noticed and something I never caught before, was that the church manuals like Gospel Principles and True to the Faith describe fasting as not eating or drinking.  The reason that caught my attention was because this man was telling me how important it was for him to drink a lot of water when he was fasting or else he got bad headaches.  But, according to the church manuals, that wouldn’t be a true fast would it?

     I bring this up, because as a non-Mormon observer of Mormonism, this is an example of the problem I often encounter when having discussions with Mormons.  I suspect many Mormons brush off this restriction about drinking as a non-essential aspect of fasting.  When that happens, that puzzles and confuses me.  If it isn’t to be taken seriously, then why is it being taught?  And if I don’t have to take the restriction against drinking seriously, then why not brush off the restriction against eating?  Isn’t the entire command to fast one that Mormons need to obey in order to be worthy?  And if they don’t obey it by drinking during their fast, isn’t that something they need to repent of and never do again?

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12 Responses to “FAST DAY”


  1. February 16, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    After coming out of the LDS church, it took me a long time to come to peace with the whole concept of fasting. In fact, any time I would hear christians speak about fasting I would cringe. I think I burned out on fasting.

    I also asked/required my baptized LDS children to fast. They would often become sick and ill. I think looking back now, I think it was due to the lack of water and just being too young in general to fast.

    The Lord really has worked with me in this area, and after some prodding from the Holy Spirit, I have fasted since leaving the LDS church, but my expierence has been radically different. I also drink water when I fast and that makes a huge difference. I only fast when the Holy Spirit really stirs me to fast. Meaning it’s truly a God-led thing.

    So different from my previous expierences.

    I would love to hear from other Christians on their expierences with fasting. How they go about it, and how they feel led to do so in the first place.

  2. February 16, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    The LDS Church sets out suggested guidelines here. But I was repeatedly told that this was a matter between me and God. That’s where the emphasis is.

    The two meals thing is a suggested guideline.

    People who “seek to be commanded in all things” simply aren’t going to understand this, I guess.

  3. 3 markcares
    February 16, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Seth:
    Thanks for your answer. How does one know the difference between a command in Mormonism and suggested guidelines? I’m asking that sincerely, not sarcastically. Is that distinction made orally? You metioned that the two meals is a suggested guideline. How about drinking? Is that a suggested guideline. How about the first Sunday in each month as a fast day? How does one know the difference between command and suggested guideline?

  4. 4 faithoffathers
    February 17, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Mark,

    You say “I suspect many Mormons brush off this restriction about drinking as a non-essential aspect of fasting.”

    That is a big guess. While we all differ in our degree of observance to these principles, I really can’t think of anybody I have encountered in the church who has suggested the “drinking is OK” concept. The straight-forward idea of obstaining from food and water is taught quite plainly in the church curriculum. It is very clearly taught- from general conference talks to Sunday school lessons- it really is clear, in my opinion, what the standard is- 24 hours, or two meals.

    Gloria- any principle in any church, when enforced by coercion, seems like a burden and has the effect of weighing a person down. Your experience is not surprising. But my guess is that it has little to do with the principle as taught by LDS leaders or curriculum and more to do with the way it was taught/enforced in your home. Maybe I am wrong, but that seems to be true, no matter what religion a person is talking about. As a LDS, I find the fast to be a very private, personally rewarding experience when I observe it faithfully. I think it is something that the world at large misses out on in a big way.

    fof

  5. 5 jm
    February 17, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Doing a word search on Blue letter Bible. This is never A commandment from God. The only two time Jesus mentions fasting in (Mat 17:21 & Mar 9:29), it is not for a personal experience but for the working of Gods miracle’s. He mentions also prayer with fasting and always first. If you miss the intent dose’s it really do any good?

    jm

  6. 6 markcares
    February 17, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    FOF:
    Thanks for the answer. I would like to refer back to the last paragraph of my original post. From my perspective your answer and Seth’s answer are an illustration of what I was saying there. Or am I missing something? Suggested guidelines and clear standards, to me, are two different things. To me, standards are more binding than guidelines while guidelines I have more freedom to take or leave.

  7. 7 shematwater
    February 17, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    I think people have missed a very important concept about fasting. One does not faste if doing so is a health Risk. My wife never fasted when she was pregnant, nor has any female in my family. The man mentioned in the post complained of severe Headaches. Such would make a complete faste uncomfortable and destroy the purpose, and thus for him to drink in order to avoid this is perfectly fine and does not constitute breaking his faste. I know that when I was young going without food for more than about 18 hours was enough to make me sick and actually cough up acid from my stomach. When this happened my mother would give me a few crackers which would settle me stomach and allow me to wait the rest of the time before having a full meal.

    The faste is to be enjoyed, and I do take pleasure in it. As such, when it becomes a burden (as in the case of health and small children) it looses its meaning.

    As to this being a commandment, technically it isn’t. There are no interview questions that ask you if you faste regularly. However, it is a way in which we can control our physical bodies and thus draw closer to God spiritually. For this reason it is opened and closed with prayer.

    On the one question as to how can you tell if is suggested guidelines or a command, it is rather simple. When they say this is what you must do (or “thou shalt”) it is a command. When they say this is the way it is done, it is generally a guideline.
    However, I will say that commands are very peculiar things. Commands are given more in the form of “If you want this than do this.” Thus, the command to faste is not “To gain salvation and exaltation you need to faste.” It is more “If you want a truly strong connection to God and his Spirit you need to faste regularly.”

  8. February 17, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Here we go again… sigh…. why is it that whenever I share an honest expression of my expierences with Mormonism, mormon bloggers are so “quick” to say, “oh the problem is not the principle taught by the LDS church but the problem is the way you lived it, or your attitude, etc.”

    Sigh….

    FOF, I really think you are a nice guy, but why not focus on the context of the topic, instead of engaging in this “your the problem ” …… it is so counter productive.

    But then again, why should I expect any other response from Mormons to those of us who have chosen to leave the LDS church?

    Sigh….

  9. February 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    FOF,

    How is a fast very private when it involves an entire group? Meaning a mandated day to fast, intead of a time or period or day a person chooses on their own. Did not Christ say we should not fast publically to be seen of men?

    I have fasted since becoming a born again Christian and my expierence has been radically different. God is the one who places on my heart the desire to fast. It is not a mandated day chosen by my church leaders.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  10. 10 markcares
    February 18, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Here’s a couple of more quotes I found:
    “Failing to fast is a sin.” Spencer W. Kimball in Doctrines of the Gospel, p. 34
    “The law to the Latter-day Saints, as understood by the authorities of the church, is that food and drink are not to be partaken of for twenty-four hours, ‘from even to even,’ and that the Saints are to refrain from all bodily gratification and indulgences.” Joseph f. Smith in “To Make Thee a Minister and a Witness” p. 116
    In the Doctrine and Covenants manual Lesson 17 is on the law of tithing and the law of the fast.
    These all make it pretty binding.

  11. 11 faithoffathers
    February 22, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Gloria,

    My comment was in response to your expression that your fasting is much more meaningful after leaving the LDS church because it is no longer a forced principle. I am a member of that church and have been in many, many wards and have heard this principle taught countless times. I have never experienced the “forced” approach that you allude to. I therefore can assume that it very well might have had to do more with your personal application of that principle in your home than the way the principle is taught by the church.

    Can you give me one instance when this principel was forced upon the members of the church? I doubt it.

    But such is your claim above. I am simply calling you out on your subjective statements.

    fof

  12. February 23, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    FOF,

    The fact that the LDS church requires/asks it’s members world wide to fast each first Sunday is rather compulsary don’t you think? How is that respecting a person’s agency or the Lord’s leading for that person to fast? And how does Fast Sunday, and the public testimonies and fasting done follow in line with the Lord admonition to do our fasting so as not to be seen by man?

    I look foward to your response,

    Gloria


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