Fasting is an important part of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here is a conversation between a boy and his father about fasting. Maybe it will answer some of the questions you have too.
Boy: Why do we have Fast Sunday? What is fasting, anyway?
Father: To fast means to go without eating and drinking. Jesus set the example Himself by fasting.
Boy: I don’t know if I could go without food and water.
Father: It certainly isn’t easy, and Heavenly Father doesn’t expect little children to fast. When you are old enough and want to fast, it’s best to start out by missing just one meal.
Boy: I still don’t know why we fast.
Father: One reason we fast is that it is a teaching of Jesus Christ. We can read about fasting in the scriptures. Some good verses to look up are: Exodus 34:28, Matthew 4:2 and 6:16–18, Helaman 3:35, and Doctrine and Covenants 59:12–14. [Ex. 34:28; Matt. 4:2; Matt. 6:6–18; Hel. 3:35; D&C 59:12–14]
Another reason we fast is to help the poor and needy. We give the money we save by not eating our meals to the fast offering fund. That fund helps others who don’t have enough food.
Fasting is also a way of developing self-control. If we can learn to have control over what and when we eat, we’ll have greater control in other things we do too. That is one of the blessings of fasting.
Boy: When do we fast? I know we don’t do it every Sunday.
Father: Unless there is a special conference on the first Sunday of the month, Fast Sunday is always held on that day. Fast Sunday is also a time when we share our testimonies. The Spirit of our Heavenly Father always seems to be very close during testimony-bearing time. Do you think that might be because we are fasting?
Boy: Sure. I love testimony meeting. It makes me feel closer to Heavenly Father. But can we fast only on Fast Sunday?
Father: No, we can fast whenever we want to or whenever we need special blessings for ourselves or others. Remember when Aunt Kathy had cancer? The whole family fasted and prayed for her. She was given a special blessing too. Because the Lord answered our prayers, the operation and the treatments she had were successful.
Another very important reason we fast is so that we can be more humble and feel closer to Heavenly Father and have His guidance and influence in our lives.
Boy: How long do we go without food and water?
Father: Your mother and I fast twenty-four hours, or from dinnertime one day until dinnertime the next day.
Boy: That’s a long time!
Father: Yes, and because it isn’t always easy, we can pray and ask our Heavenly Father for strength to complete our fast. The more often we fast, of course, the easier it becomes. The time will come when with prayer and practice you will be able to do the same.