When I was still investigating this church and taking missionary lessons, one of the commandments that they taught me was ‘fasting with prayer’. I always believed in the power of prayer which had been manifested in my life many a times before too, however, fasting was a new principle I was taught. Having come from a non-Christian background, I had seen lenient sort of fasting wherein,you are allowed to drink milk, tea, fruits and other allowed food items.However, I learnt that in this church, fasting means going without food and water for two consecutive meals this I felt was a bit hard. I was also taught that prayer is a necessary part of fasting and as the savior taught that a purposeful fasting is more than just going without food and water. Our fasting should be accompanied by sincere prayer, and we should begin and end our fasting with prayer.
As Latter-day saints, we observe fasting and testimony Sunday every first Sunday of the month wherein we refrain from eating and drinking for two consecutive meals and fast for specific purpose(s) and the cost of these two meals
, is donated as fast offering. The fast offering can be as liberal as possible. Like many other faithful members of the church, I also gained a strong testimony about this very principle. I want to share few of them with you here:
Last year, I found a young friend of mine, who was just 22 years of age, was suffering from last stages of bone marrow cancer. He was from Nepal.His older brother brought him to Delhi to get him the best treatment possible to save his life. I used to travel almost every second day to visit him at the hospital where he was admitted. He was in poor health. He almost turned into a skeleton, was losing his hair, lost his appetite and his memory was fading away with every passing day. I soon found that he lost his eye sight as the cancer cells had spread to his eyes. My heart ached seeing his agony and I just felt helpless for this sweet young man. I was praying fervently every day to God to grant him his life, however, the following Sunday when I was fasting and praying for him, I felt the need to change the words in my prayers from ‘Save his life’ to ‘heal him but let thy will be done whatever thou thinks best for him.’ Since he was in so much pain, his family were broken seeing him in misery with every passing day. Soon he was discharged from the hospital as doctor said that he was not curable. They had tried everything but nothing more could be done so there was no need of keeping him in the hospital anymore.He was taken home to spend his last few mortal months peacefully with his loved ones. I bid them a teary farewell as they left India to go back to Nepal.I kept in touch with them to have updates about his health and if there was any improvement. After 3 months, I received a message from his older brother that his sweet little angelic brother passed the veil in sleep peacefully. I was in tears but felt a strange peace in my heart as if he was telling me ‘I am free and happy now’. That moment I realized that God answered my sincere prayers for him and that it was His will to free him from this ongoing pain and great misery. Though I miss my friend terribly at times but I know that he is in safer hands now and at peace. I know someday I will see him, praying for that day.Save his life heal him but let thy will be done whatever thou thinks best for him.’ I am free and happy now
Another experience I had recently when one of my office friends told me about his dad’s sickness. He was suffering from cancer, however, fortunately it was detected early. The entire family cried when they got to know about it. Doctor said that treatment should start immediately. After numerous tests and trial medications, doctor said that he needs to be operated as the cancer had spread in his lower food pipe which made him unable to swallow and even talk. He was in deep pain and we all were praying that the surgery goes well and he becomes fine again. Finally, the day came when this surgery was to be done. My friend reached out to me to ask if I knew anyone who could donate blood for his dad’s surgery. I immediately contacted YSAs in the church to spread word if there is anyone who can donate blood. I circulated my friend’s number to them so they can contact and coordinate with him. Later, my friend told me that he received many calls from my reference to help him with blood donation. Soon blood was arranged and surgery date was decided. I fasted for him keeping this issue specifically in my prayer. Since I had learnt from my previous experience, I prayed that may he be healed if it’s in God’s will and heal him according to his faith. Surgery went for many hours since it was a major one. I was in constant touch with my friend to take updates. Finally, I got a message that surgery was successful and that the cancerious growth was removed so he should be fine soon. Soon he was discharged and was brought back home. And he recovered miraculously.
By these experiences I learnt that fasting combined with sincere purposeful prayers can accomplish anything. Fasting can be done for many reasons...to overcome weaknesses, to seek help and guidance for self and others, for sick and afflicted, to know the gospel principle’s validity, to help others embrace the truth, to seek humility and forgiveness and most often just to express our gratitude for the many blessings that Lord has already blessed us with.
As per Isaiah, ‘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 rear ward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:8–9)’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 rear ward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am Isaiah 58:8–9
Fasting brings many blessings other than the purpose for which we are fasting. It helps us gain strength of character, we learn to control our appetites and passions, improves self-control and strengthen our faith in Heavenly Father and our Savior. I bear my sincere witness that honest purposeful fasting combined with fervent prayers can bring mighty miracles in our lives and we can help God manifest His grandeur even in the matters that seem impossible for us. In the name of Jesus Christ,Amen!
Monica Gupta, lives in New Delhi