Some people are surprised to learn that Mormons fast on a regular basis. As a church, this is done once a month on the first Sunday and on that day we also have a special testimony meeting during our services. Anyone who wants to can stand at the podium and testify of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, making it brief so everyone who feels prompted to will have the opportunity to speak.
Fasting without prayer is just going hungry. As we begin our fast, we are supposed to have a prayer, and another as we close our fast. Saturday night we eat dinner and our fast ends Sunday at dinner time. Whatever money the two meals we skipped would cost us, we give offerings that we refer to as “fast offerings” and these are used to help the poor and needy. If we are able to, we are encouraged to give more.
On an individual basis, members may have additional fasts as they wish, perhaps having a special purpose like a family member who is seriously ill or suffering unemployment. It helps families feel closer to each other even if they don’t live in close proximity to unite, fasting and praying for one purpose.
There are many benefits to fasting including a healthier body, increased mental clarity, more self-control, and spiritual benefits such as feeling the Holy Ghost more strongly, increased faith, and promises of peace and spiritual guidance.
We believe as we fast, we are following our Savior’s example as He did so in the scriptures. Of course, we don’t attempt to go without food or drink for 40 days like Jesus did, but we believe it is an important practice that can bring us closer to God, strengthen our character, and bless ourselves and others who are in need of some additional divine intervention in their lives.