Two young elders were beginning to feel desperate for a place to stay. They had knocked at many doors in the little English village and they had talked with members of the Church and non-members. No one was interested in giving “digs” (a room with meals provided) to two Mormon missionaries.
The elders felt that they had checked every possibility and that they had wasted days in following leads. But their efforts met with failure after failure. They had prayed for help but no help came.
Then the elders decided that there was just one last thing to do—add fasting to their prayers. One of them was so discouraged that he said he was a little doubtful whether even this would bring results, but he was willing to try anything.
Whenever the missionaries had a problem, they usually fasted for only twenty-four hours, but when these two young men had not found a place to live after that period of time, they decided to fast for another day and night. After forty-eight hours of fasting and prayer, the young men still had not been successful. By this time they had returned to the same tracting area for the second time.
Hardly knowing whether they were being guided by inspiration or desperation, one of them was impressed to knock on a door from which they had been rather rudely turned away the first time they had called. There was no answer but a neighbor saw the elders and recognized them. She remembered their request and called out, “You’re still looking for a place to live, aren’t you?”
When they told her they were, she said, “Well, I happen to know of a lady who is looking for some people to live with her.” And as it turned out, this was a perfect place for the elders to stay.
Said one of the elders in telling this experience later, “We gratefully recognized that the Lord had accepted our fast and answered our prayers. I gained more of an understanding of the ways of my Heavenly Father. We should have fasted at first, for He directed us only after we started fasting and had put forth considerable effort and after there was sufficient sacrifice.”
One example of the importance of fasting is found in Alma in the Book of Mormon. Alma met the sons of Mosiah who were journeying toward the land of Zarahemla. These sons had done evil at one time but had repented. Mosiah rejoiced that they now “waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently that they might know the word of God.
“But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.” (Alma 17:2–3.)