Contributed by Steve Hafen
The simple answer to this is yes, Mormons do fast. Mormons recognize one Sunday each month (typically the 1st Sunday) as “Fast Sunday.” While it is ultimately up to the individual on the length of the fast, Church leaders advise that church members go without food or drink for approximately 24 hours. In lieu of eating on Fast Sunday, a “offering” is paid to the church that is used for helping the poor or those with short-term needs.
Fasting is often also coupled with prayer during challenging times or when needing to make a major decision as Mormons seek to gain extra help or inspiration from a loving Heavenly Father. Fasting is not easy and requires a great deal of faith. Through prayer and fasting, Mormons find their faith in Jesus Christ and his gospel can be strengthened significantly. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, an Apostle of the LDS Church has said this: “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 also has been show to have health benefits. Studies conducted by various sources have indicated benefits at varying levels which can include: stress resistance, increased insulin sensitivity, reduced morbidity, and increased life span.
As with most things, Jesus Christ led by example in showing the importance of incorporating fasting, The Savior has said to those who fast properly “Thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:18)
In summary, fasting has always been a core part of Mormon beliefs and has many physical and spiritual benefits to those who practice it.