State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

The Law Of The Fast

In contemplating the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Western middle class lifestyle, I have come to believe that the Lord has offered us a way to take the good and overcome the bad.  This is the law of the fast.  Let me state up front that this post is just about 100% my own ideas and I wouldn’t want it to be mis-judged as commandment or coming from my church or scripture.  However, I do hope the spirit of what I share may help someone come to a greater understanding and practice of the law of the fast.

The first Sunday of each month in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is known as fast Sunday.  As a fast, the members are asked to skip two meals and donate the saved money from the meals as a ‘fast offering’ to help the poor.  In this way, even those who have only enough to survive day to day create a small surplus to share with those less fortunate.  Those who are better off have been asked to contribute generously.  Marion G. Romney stated the following:

“What prohibits us from giving as much in fast offerings as we would have given in surpluses under the United Order?  Nothing but our own limitations.”

How much surplus would I have had under the United Order?  Let’s begin by asking what we are to learn from fasting.  We go without two consecutive meals (which causes many youth to call it “slow Sunday”).  We forego a comfort of life to give to others.  I believe our offering should reflect this same thing.  We shouldn’t simply give our spare change or pretend we would have eaten Corn Flakes for the meals, but the offering should reflect an altering of our life pattern.  We should give an amount that represents an actual sacrifice.

Next, we know that the United Order was to provide for the needs and wants of the people, so far as the wants were just.  Are my wants just or are they simply the reflection of the materialistic culture in which I live?  I believe the answer lies in applying the law of the fast to more than just food. 

What if I were saving up for some item at a rate of $50/month, and, when I had saved the needed money, I fasted from that purchase for a month or  two?  I could give the extra money saved as a fast offering.  By applying this spiritual principle, I would show the Lord that I cared about the needs of others and not just my own wants.  It would give time to thought and reflection and open myself to the spirit to help me understand if this item really was worth purchasing or if I was just giving in to an advertising ploy.

As I have applied this principle in my own life, I have found that many of my immediate wants are simply things that won’t satisfy and changed my mind about the purchase before gaining extra junk to sit around the house.  There was a time that, during the fasting period, an expense came up for which I needed the saved money.  I was glad I hadn’t wasted it on a toy.  Those things I have purchased have generally been useful for the purpose which I had hoped.  I like to think that they have also worked well.  Perhaps the Lord blesses us in such things if we put him first in our lives.

Finally, consider the words of Isaiah (from Ch. 58):

6. Is not this the fast that I have chosen?  to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

7. 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?

I believe these verses show that the fast should be applied in many ways.  I believe that if we truly understand what the Lord is saying, he is revealing his way of overcoming the oppressions and inequalities of this life.  Notice how these things can be applied to both the giver and receiver in our culture:  The bands of wickedness may have caused my neighbor to lack, but the bands of wickedness may be tight around me if I give into materialism rather than care for my neighbor.  They are loosed for both of us through the true fast.  It could be a heavy burden to not have food.  Ask anyone who has owned a boat (and sold it) if it wasn’t also a heavy burden (from cost, maintenance, time, etc.).  We release ouselves from the oppression of Satan and worshipping false gods, while simultaneously releasing our neighbor from the burden or oppression of want.

Now the blessings the Lord offers:

8. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily:  and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.

9. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am….

He goes on for five more verses of blessings you shall receive, and I highly encourage everyone to read them.  For now, just consider how amazing this promise is.  You can pray and the Lord will say, Here I am.  How often do we try and rationalize our lack of answers to prayers when, perhaps, it is our own choice to set our hearts on other things and not do what the Lord would have us do to get the answers we search.  I realize just how much I needed to write this and go through these thoughts to set my own life in better order.  I invite all others to do the same and see if we are not blessed beyond measure.  Perhaps the United Order isn’t so hard to understand or so distant.  Perhaps as we live and understand commandments in their fuller meaning it will become clear and even easy to get there!

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