Fasting—Spiritual Effects of Extended Fasting—Isaiah 58

Isaiah Explains What Blessings We Get From a True Fast

1903
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Fasting is more than skipping meals (see Isaiah 58)

“Fasting combined with sincere prayer can help you prepare yourself and others to receive God’s blessings.”1 In Isaiah 58, the prophet lists at least eight reasons for fasting, some of which include calling on the Lord, “dealing thy bread to the hungry, and loosing the bands of wickedness in your own life.

The people fasted as God had commanded and asked Isaiah in perplexity why God had not heard them. In reply he told them, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness . . . and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, . . . [to] bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him . . . ?” (Isaiah 58:6–7). This is a reminder that our own fasts require an offering for the poor.—“Great Are the Words of Isaiah”, Hugh Nibley 2

There are of course many reasons for fasting including caring for the poor, adding strength to prayers or priesthood blessings. But, the purpose of this post is more selfish and centered on what fasting can do for you specifically.

The definition above, comes from First Presidency in 2004, as they defined fasting for youth, young single adults, and new converts. But is also suggests that fasting is more than just going “without food and drink voluntarily for a certain period of time.”

In Isaiah 58, the prophet deepens our understanding of the principal of fasting in verses 6-12. There he lists the guiding principles of the fast and then motivates us by listing God’s promises for a “true fast.”

How Does One Fast for 40 days?

In this next video, Ken Krogue explains how he did a 40 day fast on his own!

Read more about the physical effects and logistics of extended fasting here.

Fasting As Isaiah Sees It

THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET
ISAIAH
CHAPTER 58The true law of the fast, with its purposes and attendant blessings, is set forth

 King James Version

New Revised Standard Version

Expanded Notes and Commentary

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the abands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go bfree, and that ye break every yoke?
xx

x

xxx

6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
xxxto loose the bonds of
xxxinjustice,
xxxto undo the thongs of
xxxthe yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,
xxxand to break every
xxxyoke?xxx

xxx

Fasting can help lift the heavy burdens of sin that too many of us carry around for too long. It can help all of us with spiritual problems (for example, Alma fasted and prayed for his son; Mosiah 27:13-24—Ogden, D. Kelly, Verse by Verse, Old Testament: Volume TwoDeseret Book Company, Kindle Edition.
Verse 6 shows three purposes of a true fast:
“to loose the bands of wickedness,” or to help us overcome personal sins which have engulfed us;
“to undo the heavy burdens,” or to help us gain strength for difficult assignments or problems; and 
“to let the oppressed go free,” or to petition the Lord to intervene in behalf of our loved ones, such as Alma did when fasting for the salvation of his son (see Mosiah 27:13-24).—Nyman, Monte S., Great are the Words of Isaiah, Cedar Fort, Inc., Kindle Edition.
NOTE: in Mosiah 27:13-24 “they had fasted and prayed for the space of atwo days and two nights;” not two meals as is the practice on LDS Fast Sunday.  

Is it not to deal thy bread to the ahungry, and that thou bring the bpoor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from cthine own flesh?x

x

x

x

xx

xxx

7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
xxxand bring the homeless
xxxpoor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover them,
xxxand not to hide yourself
xxxfrom your own kin?x

x

x

x

xxx

xxx

Let this be an ensample to all saints, and there will never be any lack for bread: When the poor are starving, let those who have, fast one day and give what they otherwise would have eaten to the bishops for the poor, and every one will abound for a long time; and this is one great and important principle of fasts approved of the Lord. And so long as the saints will all live to this principle with glad hearts and cheerful countenances they will always have an abundance. History of the Church, 7:413.
It would be a simple matter for people to comply with this requirement to abstain from food and drink one day each month, and to dedicate what would be consumed during that day to the poor, and as much more as they pleased. The Lord has instituted this law; it is simple and perfect, based on reason and intelligence, and would not only prove a solution to the question of providing for the poor, but it would result in good to those who observe the law. It would call attention to the sin of overeating, place the body in subjection to the spirit, and so promote communion with the Holy Ghost, and ensure a spiritual strength and power which the people of the nation so greatly need. As fasting should always be accompanied by prayer, this law would bring the people nearer to God, and divert their minds once a month at least, from the mad rush of worldly affairs and cause them to be brought into immediate contact with practical, pure and undefiled religion—to visit the fatherless and the widow, and keep themselves unspotted from the sins of the world—President Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, pp. 237–38

¶ Then shall thy alight  break forth as the morning, and thine bhealth shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy crearward.x

x

x

8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
xxxand your healing shall
xxxspring up quickly;

your vindicator shall go before you,
xxxshall be your rear
xxxguard.
x

x

In verses 8–12, Isaiah lists eight promises those you fast true:
Your mind will be illuminated; you will have an understanding
➁ Health come speedily to you
God defends you, going before you as your ally
The Lord has your back; He will protect you from behind

Then shalt thou acall, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the bputting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
x

x

9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
xxxyou shall cry for help
xxxand he will say, Here I
xxxam. x

If you remove the yoke from among you,
xxxthe pointing of the
xxxfinger, the speaking of
xxxevil,

When you pray to Him, God will pay attention, hearing, and answering 
➅ He hears and answers your cry for help as if face to face

 

x

x

As explained in the days of the prophet Isaiah, the children of Israel were admonished, “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry,” meaning fasting and then paying fast offerings. If you would do that, he promised, “Then shalt thou call and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.” (Isa. 58:7,9.)

We are saying to the Saints, how important that you keep this fundamental law to fast and to deal out your bread to the hungry through contributions so that when you call, the Lord shall answer.—President Harold B. Lee England Area CR, 1971, p. 140.)

What a wonderful feeling of security can come in a crisis to one who has learned to pray and has cultivated listening ears so that he can “call, and the Lord shall answer;” when he can cry and the LORD shall say, “Here I am.”—President Harold B. Lee, A Time of Decision, April 1972 

10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the ahungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light brise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
x
x
x

10 if you offer your food to the hungry
xxxand satisfy the needs of
xxxthe afflicted,

then your light shall rise in the darkness
xxxand your gloom be like
xxxthe noonday.

 

 

 

Your He lights the darkness of your life
Gloom in your life will be brightened as the light at noon

11 And the Lord shall aguide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in bdrought, and cmake fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a dspring of water, whose waters fail not.

xxxxxx

11 The LORD will guide you continually,
xxxand satisfy your needs
xxxin parched places,
xxxand make your bones
xxxstrong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
xxxlike a spring of water,
xxxwhose waters never
xxxfail.

A Quenched thirst
A’ Fed bones
B  Watered garden
B’  Running spring (v. 11)(continued below)
12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.x

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x

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x

x

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12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
xxxyou shall raise up the
xxxfoundations of many
xxxgenerations;

you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
xxxthe restorer of streets to
xxxlive in.

x

x

x


x

x

x

C. Rebuilt ruins
C’. Raised buildings
D. Repaired walls
D’. Restored streets (12)In short, the Lord will bless the whole Israelite society by renewing their
(A, A’) bodies
(B, B’) fields ,
(C, C’) homes and
(D, D’) cities
Of course, although these are physical blessings, most of them can also represent spiritual blessings: water can represent the gospel, homes and foundations the family or Church organization, and streets the path returning to God’s presence.Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet, Deseret Book
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Fasting as Church Leaders See It

Verses about fasting have been quoted in general conferences by prophets, apostles and other general authorities more than 68 times,making the topic one of the most important. Here is a selection of those talks:


Footnotes

1 “Fasting and Fast Offerings,” True to the Faith (2004), 66–69
“Great Are the Words of Isaiah”, Hugh Nibley, in Sperry Symposium Classics: The Old Testament, (Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, and Deseret Book 2005), 177–195.
Stephen W. Liddle and Richard C. GalbraithCitation IndexVersion 3.5.0

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I am a retiree from Scouting. There I blogged for VoiceOfScouting.org, a site with more than 250,000 readers. During 42 years in the workplace, I've had many years senior level management with the BSA, professional associations, and high tech user groups. My background includes capital fundraising; outdoor adventure program development; property and construction management; event/conference planning; risk management and safety; lobbying federal, state and local government agencies; public relations; strategic planning; member advocacy and staff/volunteer training. Along the way, I have also taught Gospel Doctrine Classes and been both the ward and stake Sunday School President. In these settings, I have seen teachers and class members minimize Isaiah, a book Christ has commanded us to "search diligently." (3 Ne 23:1) With that in mind, I will do my best to explore and post my discoveries about the book of Isaiah. I am not a Bible scholar; like you, I read Isaiah in the Old Testament cycle of study in LDS Gospel Doctrine Classes and again in the Book of Mormon Cycle, so this is a whole new scripture adventure for me.

7 COMMENTS

  1. What a powerful writing on the True Nature of Fasting Darryl. Thank you so much. I personally have a very strong testimony of the power of fasting. As a young man of the age of 12, we as a Fullmer Family knelt in prayer and began a fast for a cousin who had spinal meningitis, and started a fast. I was marching in a parade and after the parade was offered popsicle on this hot July day, but felt the strength of the Lord as I was doing a 24 hours fast. We all knelt in prayer and ended the 24-hour large family fast and saw a miracle with my cousin healing and getting over his sickness.

    I’ve been strengthened with the ability to do 3-day fasts calling on the Lord to help with some challenges with my children and have been sustained and blessed and seen modern-day miracles. I love the Law of Fasting, and am so thankful for the Great Blessings and Insights that Isaiah gives us and helps us to understand about this Powerful Law. Thanks for this article!!

    • Troy
      We appreciate your personal experience and testimony of fasting. The story of turning down a cold treat at 12 years of age on a hot day will stick with me a long time. My own fasts have been amazing when I am serious, but sadly I find myself on many fast Sundays just going through the motions of fasting without making it “real.” Doing this post called me out right along with the Jews in Isaiah’s day.

  2. Darryl, I whole heartedly agree…when done with prayer and you are serious about the fast, they are amazing and miracles do happen. Right now I’m personally on day 14 fast, the purpose is two-fold, for my own personal health and strengthening, and for calling down the powers of Heaven for my family and children and some of the challenges and struggles they are going through…and have already seen Miracles happen!??.

    • Wow! I remember a 3 day fast once long ago in my life, but often have trouble with two meals on Fast Sunday. How do you do it? I assume you are drinking water, aren’t you tired all the time.

  3. Fasting has been a powerful force in my life. There was a time when I fasted every Sunday and it was incredible to see the many blessings that came into my life. I was more disciplined and effective in literally every other faucet of my life. I was able to somehow accomplish all I needed to and more.

  4. In this fast, how do you keep up with electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to keep the heart going? I’ve heard about the book The Complete Guide to Fasting, perhaps the answer is in that book?

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