The law of the fast includes fasting and paying fast offerings. According to Elder L. Tom Perry, “The Law of the fast has three great purposes. First, it provides assistance to the needy through the contribution of fast offerings, consisting of the value of meals from which we abstain. Second, a fast is beneficial to us physically. Third, it is to increase humility and spirituality on the past of each individual.”
The Lord established the law of the fast in order to bless His people. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints observe “fast Sunday” once each month. Fast Sunday is a day when members go without food and drink for 24 hours and then attend fast and testimony meeting on Sunday. Members are asked to pay a fast offering of at least an amount equal to the value of the food they would have eaten.
The law of the fast blesses all who participate in it. Those who fast properly also pray and worship while going without food and drink. Their blessings include a greater “closeness to the Lord, increased spiritual strength, temporal well-being, greater compassion, and a stronger desire to serve” (Handbook 2, 6.1.2).
The Savior commands us to love our neighbors and to take care of the poor. The fast offering is the Lord’s way to help the poor, and He bestows blessings upon all those who are obedient to the law.
Elder Perry quoted some remarks made by President Marion G. Romney (1897-1988), First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church: “…I am a firm believer that you cannot give to the Church and to the building up of the kingdom of God and be any poorer financially. I remember a long time ago, over 50 years, when Brother [Melvin J.] Ballard laid his hands on my head and set me apart to go on a mission. He said in that prayer of blessing that a person could not give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf in return. That’s been my experience. If the members of the Church would double their fast-offering contributions, the spirituality in the Church would double. We need to keep that in mind and be liberal in our contributions.” (Welfare Agricultural Meeting, 3 April 1971, p 1.)
Po Nien (Felipe) Chou and Petra Chou write in a recent Ensign article about miracles coming into their lives as they increased their fast offerings. “During financial difficulties, giving a generous fast offering and helping care for the needy can be difficult, particularly when we are – like the widow of Zarephath – among the needy. Giving a generous fast offering, no matter the amount, requires faith in the Lord and His promise to care for us. But the Lord fulfills His promises, and our family’s experience taught us that the more we are willing to share, the more we are blessed.”
I too can testify of the blessings that come from paying generous fast offerings. I know people who literally add the dollars that their two meals would cost, but I never took the time to follow their example. I prefer to give a certain percentage. We are commanded to pay ten percent of our gross income for tithing, and I simply adapted that formula to pay one percent of whatever our gross income as fast offering. It is so much easier to calculate! We have always had enough money to pay our bills, and I have never worried about where our next meal would come from. I know that living the law of the fast brings blessings into our lives.