Fasting for Health and Happiness


Ogden Kraut


November 1992

I give unto you a commandment that ye shall continue in prayer and fasting from this time forth. (D & C 88:76)



The importance of proper exercise and healthy eating habits has been emphasized more and more in recent years. Extensive scientific research and experimentation have shown the tremendous benefits of eating natural and healthy foods. We are no longer blundering and groping in the darkness with regard to our eating and exercising habits. Consequently, there has been a significant increase in roadside joggers, health spa members, health food stores, and written dietary programs.

But along with this, a very important factor has been generally overlooked in achieving the health and happiness desired by mankind–God’s commandment of fasting. Christians in general have all but forgotten this practice, and it is seemingly becoming less and less important to Mormons.

As in all fields, specialists do not always agree on the type, length of time, purpose or results of fasting. Since each individual has a unique body, he must learn for himself what is best for him. Advice is given by countless extremists in the health and fasting fields, but generally the old adage of “moderation in all things” is the wisest. (See D & C 12:8.) Therefore, most of the contents of this book can be considered as a moderate approach–generally agreed upon by most nutritionists and applicable to most people.

Since the author feels that not enough has been written or understood pertaining to this wise commandment of fasting, he has presented the following information in an effort to reacquaint the reader with this important principle for health and happiness. It is recommended that this book be read and reread at frequent intervals as an important reminder to properly care for our mortal temples.


[7]                               Chapter 1




What a wonderful rest the hardworking heart receives when you take a day or two of fasting–complete abstinence from all food! (Your Heart, Paul and Patricia Bragg, p. 93)

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence,” said Joseph Smith. (TPJS, p. 255) But no one ever feels happy when he is sick. Everyone eventually experiences some type of affliction or illness–a cold, flu, headache, toothache, backache, maybe even ulcers, clogged arteries, arthritis, etc. Just coming into mortality is painful, as every baby and mother know. If we aren’t catching some disease, we may suffer from some accident. This is mortality.

However, many of the afflictions and sufferings we experience can be avoided. Indeed, most of them are caused by our own ignorance, bad judgment, or poor advice of others–including doctors. In spite of all the new scientific discoveries, advanced medical knowledge, and easy access to the drug store, we are a sick generation with most of our hospitals usually filled to capacity. Mankind generally are not very happy and not very well.

The human body is a wonder of science. It is composed of a complete plumbing and electrical system, a computer, a [8] delicate color photographic video system, an automatic thermostat, a fuel combustion motor drive, a chemistry lab that functions with taste, smell and sound sensors–and even more astounding, it has its own repair system. The list goes on and on! It is indeed a marvelous creation of God. With such a delicate, yet powerful piece of machinery, we ought to take more pride and care for it than our home, car or any man-made treasure.

Have you noticed the great respect and pride some people have in their expensive automobiles? They wash and polish them frequently, and utilize two places in a parking lot so no one will scratch them. Every so many miles they take these prize possessions in for a complete tune-up: plugs, points, carburetor, water, air pressure, and so on are all carefully checked. They take better care of their cars than they do their own bodies. In fact, they nearly worship their cars, but their own bodies go unchecked and untreated, as these individuals appear oblivious to the fact that their cars can be replaced, but not their bodies.

While in mortality we soon learn that we are governed by laws in everything we do: we drive by traffic laws; we do business by regulations; we even play games according to certain rules. We should also eat by proper laws. Disobeying the laws of health eventually results in punishment, and punishment results in sorrow or remorse. Obedience and disobedience always produce consistent results. The laws of good health are actually easy to learn and easy to apply so we can enjoy the attending happiness.

Good health is also a gift. While some are born blind, crippled or with some other infirmity, those who have good health should appreciate that blessing and try to preserve it. A free treasure should be respected and cared for just as much as [9] one that has been dearly paid for. But oftentimes, that which we obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly.

Some people eat to live, while others seem to live to eat. Overindulging in food appears to be a national pasttime in America. Overeating is a destructive power in developing a healthy body. Too much food is worse than not enough.

A good principle to follow is to eat to satisfy the body’s needs not merely to please the palate. The body is composed of many different organs, much like members of a large orchestra. Each must be given their proper piece to play or it would be a catastrophe. Different foods provide the minerals, vitamins, and elements necessary for the wide variety of bodily functions. By eating the wrong foods or an improper balance thereof, some parts of the body begin to weaken and fail.

“Man is the sickest animal on earth; no other animal has violated the laws of eating as much as man; no other animal eats as wrongly as man.” (Dr. A. Ehret, Mucusless Diet Healing System, p. 149) Man usually eats what tastes good, not what is good for him. Even in that he is often misinformed because a cool drink of fresh juice can be one of the best tasting foods ever discovered; and who has not enjoyed a fresh tree-ripened peach as it practically fell from the tree into his hands? Salads, fruits and vegetables are more delicious and far more beneficial to one’s health than bacon or steak! Most of the foods we think are “delicious” are those we are taught to be so. People who eat healthy foods soon lose their taste for meats and junk foods. The body, like a machine, can be programmed, and unfortunately it is usually programmed incorrectly.

The body is a miracle device that sends messages to the brain when it needs fuel. When it receives junk food, it is not [10] getting the proper nutrients so it continues to send more messages–hence the overeating. When given good healthy fruits and vegetables, the desire for food is decreased. A person eating healthy food will not desire a great amount of food and yet he will be able to work more and longer than those eating large amounts of improper foods.

Simple foods are often the most healthy. For example, the grape has actually worked miracles, as the following account testifies:

One young woman had had six operations on the rectum and the base of the spine. I never saw anyone so completely poisoned.–

After beginning the grape diet (and she continued it longer than any of the other patients), the pus poured from her. When she began to pass worms, I knew that the terrible ordeal was nearly over. The grapes seem to ferret out the most deep-seated cause of trouble and drive it from the system. (The Grape Cure, Brandt, p. 31)

Another case of healing because of a simple grape diet came from Basil Shackleton whose testimony follows:

After nearly forty years of chronic illness, I was condemned to die. My one and only kidney harboured a nephritis–an infection which would not respond to the treatment of any of the modern wonder drugs.

In desperation I decided to experiment on myself with a treatment I had only vaguely heard of–and about which I knew absolutely nothing. It was known as the Grape Cure. The outcome, after 23 days on the treatment, was so successful that it can be likened to an absolute miracle!

I came through the grape treatment looking and feeling 20 years younger–and I was completely and permanently cured! An abscess in my only kidney had come away by its roots. My body had been freed of all [11] toxins and subsequent pains, but far, far more important than this, at the age of 53, I had recaptured the supreme joy of living. My body became charged with a new vitality. I felt radiant and whole. My mind was mellow and perfectly contented, and my spirit had become a vivid and living thing again.

The chemicals in the grape are almost magical in their healing properties. (The Grape Cure, Basil Shackleton, pp. 7-8)

Although we can enjoy many varieties of food, people tend to be drawn either to junk food or to health food; and as they grow older, the gulf is widened between these two groups of people. Gandhi noticed this and wrote:

The distinction ought to be clear as daylight. Both use their eyesight, but whereas the one uses it to see the glories of God, the other uses it to see the frivolity around him. Both use their ears, but whereas the one hears nothing but praises of God, the other feasts his ears upon ribaldry. Both often keep late hours, but whereas the one devotes them to prayer, the other fritters them away in wild and wasteful mirth. Both feed the inner man, but the one only to keep the temple of God in good repair, while the other gorges himself and makes the sacred vessel a stinking gutter. Thus both live as the poles apart, and the distance between them will grow and not diminish with the passage of time. (Gandhi, L. Fischer, p. 210)

Because of the foolish eating customs we have adopted, our bodies have been contaminated and infused with chemicals, drugs, impurities, and animal fats. To cleanse and discard these poisons and trash from the body, the best method yet known is by fasting.

It is interesting to note that popular opinion concerning fasting is that it is very hard on the system and should be avoided, so most people never fast for longer than a few hours [12] at a time. They believe that overeating is better than undereating, but as has been mentioned, just the opposite is true.

Everyone should fast. However, the type of fast and the length of time involved depends entirely upon the capability of the person. Some people can go on only short fasts–others ought to go on long ones. A person’s physical ability and will power determines the length of the fast. With experience a person can develop the ability to fast for longer periods of time. Young boys and girls can be taught to fast for one meal–then two and so forth until fasting can be understood and accomplished with greater ease as he grows older. Starting right out with a 40-day fast would be a catastrophe for most people.

Everything we do should be done for a wise purpose, and so it is with fasting. A proper fast should have meaning, direction and a well defined program in order to obtain the desired results; otherwise it can be detrimental rather than helpful. Wise old Solomon said, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Ecc. 2:1) That applies to fasting as well.


[13]                              Chapter 2



It may be nearer the truth, however, to say that fasting originated when the Lord first revealed to man the gospel plan, thus ante-dating even the law of Moses, when an annual fast day was prescribed. (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 209)

Biblical history of the House of Israel contains an accurate record of fasting connected to rituals, seasons, and worship. Fasting was a mandatory obligation and therefore was a central theme and important part of their life. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained how it was with the Jews at the time of Christ:

Fasting was a basic and integral part of their <Jewish> way of worship. The Day of Atonement was a fast day: so also was the first day of the Feast of Purim, which was called the Fast of Esther. Besides these two, there were four other great fasts: one, “in memory of the taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and the interruption of the daily sacrifice”; another, “kept on account of the destruction of the first (and afterwards of the second) Temple”; still another, “in memory of the slaughter of Gedaliah and his associates at Mizpah,” as set out in Jeremiah 41; and fourth, commemorating the day on which “the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar commenced.” Further, “It was customary to fast twice a week, between the Paschal week and Pentecost, and between the Feast of [14] Tabernacles and that of the Dedication of the Temple. The days appointed for this purpose were the Monday and the Thursday of each week because, according to tradition, Moses went up Mount Sinai the second time to receive the Tables of the Law on a Thursday, and came down again on a Monday.” (Temple, pp. 339-40) From Passover to Pentecost was seven weeks, and from Tabernacles to Dedication was about ten weeks, the two periods thus adding about thirty-four fast days to the Jewish calendar of fasts, bringing to a total of about forty the number of formal fast days in each year. In addition there were such private fasts for private purposes as devout persons felt they should hold, all of which adds up to a far heavier fasting schedule than is commonly followed in the true Church as it is now constituted. (Mortal Messiah, Vol. 1, pp. 184-185)


When people suffered and endured much sorrow, they were given to much fasting and prayer. The Jews once suffered under the wrath of the king of Persia and it is written:

And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, <there was> great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. (Esther 4:3)

The results of this and other times of fasting proved extremely valuable, and some of those events were kept as memorials to their fasts. Lorenzo Snow relates the events surrounding this account with Esther:

Now to my mind there is something very singular in the history of a certain people connected with the events related in the Book of Esther. There was a people at this time scattered throughout the provinces of the Medes and Persians, Ahasuerus being then king of Persia and Media. This people were the people of God; they had been acknowledged of God as his people for [15] several centuries, commencing with Abraham; but in consequence of their dissipation and transgression, and because they sought to worship other Gods, he scattered them throughout those 127 provinces, and they were in captivity. But in consequence of a certain feeling that was gotten up, a feeling of hatred and a determination to destroy this people, they were placed in very imminent jeopardy. A decree had been passed by the king that on a certain day they should all be destroyed, and there was weeping and wailing from one end of the kingdom to the other. But it appears–as it will, and has appeared in our history in the past–that the Lord had concealed his plan for the deliverance of his people. It was for the purpose of destroying Mordecai that the decree was established. Haman, who was the author of the difficulties, had determined in his mind that he would destroy Mordecai, but disdained to execute his vengeance on Mordecai alone, therefore desired to make a sweeping arrangement which would include the destruction of all his people scattered throughout the provinces, and Haman succeeded in influencing the king to accomplish this business. He had informed the king that this was a people who had laws that were different from the laws of any other people, and that they were actually in some instances living in disobedience to his laws, that disobedience consisting in not worshipping the false gods that were worshipped in those days. He succeeded in blinding the mind of the king to that extent that he was given the privilege of accomplishing the destruction of thousands and tens of thousands of this people, the people of God. On account of this, Mordecai, we are told, rent his clothes and put on sackcloth and sat in ashes; and finally he conceived the idea that the salvation of this people was in Queen Esther, his niece. So he sent her word to the effect that it was her business to take a course to accomplish this object. But she sent back word when she received this communication that it was a very difficult matter for her to get an audience with the king, because according to the law it was death for any person to go into the inner court and ask anything of the king uncalled, and if she [16] went in it would be at the risk of her life. The answer to this was that if she felt that under the circumstances she could not risk all she possessed, then should their deliverance arise from another source, but she and her father’s house should be destroyed. Esther took all these things into consideration, and finally sent word to Mordecai in the language I have read in those verses. Accordingly after this fasting she went into the king, the desire of her heart was granted and the people were saved. (JD 23:288)

On another occasion repentance and fasting were used in order to obtain Divine approval to be saved. This story came with the history of Jonah when he was sent to Nineveh to warn the people of their destruction. They were wicked and knew it, so when Jonah came with the message that they were about to be destroyed, they repented. The people in Nineveh were so taken back by the Lord’s message that they sent out a formal decree for everyone in the city to fast. It reads:

And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil [17] way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. (Jonah 3:4-10)

Even their flocks and herds were required to go without food or drink, and God accepted their sincerity and repentance. In those days people displayed their repentance by wearing “sackcloth” and by throwing ashes or dirt over their bodies. It was an outward demonstration of an inward condition. God saw this form of repentance and usually returned favors upon such people. It would do well for the whole United States to be put under the same decree.

To the Jews the Day of Atonement meant fasting–not just from food or water but also from everything that represented pleasure. They looked forward to this day with great sincerity and appreciation. It was a day for the forgiveness of sins–omission and commission–and also those sins that came with the fall of Adam. It was their most holy day, as Farrar noted:

If anyone desired to contemplate the Levitical high priesthood in its grandest phase–to realize its antiquity, its sacredness, the splendour of its ministration, and the awful sense of responsibility with which its representative was bound to fulfil its functions–he would naturally have turned his thoughts to the great Day of Atonement–that “Sabbath of Sabbatism”–which was the most memorable day of the Jewish year. It was the day of expiation for the sins of the whole people, and was observed as a perfect Sabbath. It was the one fast-day of the Jewish calendar. It was emphatically “the day”. (Early Days of Christianity, Farrar, p. 237)

According to the Jewish Mishna, fasting was also a part of the obligation of those enduring hardship or periods of famine. They regarded a famine as an act of God, so fasting was [18] a way to turn away his anger. By fasting, men show their repentance to God.

The Israelites soon began to be lax in the practice and purpose of their fasts and sacrifices. It became a mere ritual with no effect upon their hearts. Eventually they lost their spirituality, and it led to the breakdown of their nation. They were cursed and scattered among the nations. One commentator described Zechariah’s call–

. . . to consult the Temple priests and prophets as to whether the fasts in the fifth and seventh months to commemorate the burning of city and Temple (2 Kings 25:8f.) and the assassination of the Jewish governor Gedaliah (2 Kings 25:25)–fasts had been observed since the fall of the city in 586–should be continued. Zechariah’s answer, which is intended to reach the ears of all the people (v. 5), is of special significance when we remember his profound interest in the Temple: it shows that he, like the former, i.e., the pre-exilic, prophets cared infinitely more for righteousness than for ritual. Their fasting, he reminds them, like their eating and drinking, did not in any way affect God, but only themselves. His demand, voiced by those prophets, was for something very different–for true justice, kindness, and pity in their social relationships, and for the temper which would scorn to exploit the defenseless members of society or to harbor malicious designs against them. This prophetic law, i.e., instruction, though it had been mediated by the divine Spirit, they had willfully rejected, turning a stubborn shoulder like an animal that refuses to bear the yoke, with the result that Jehovah was indignant, scattered them among strange nations, and abandoned their lovely land to desolation. (Abingdon’s Bible Commentary, p. 824)

The great prophet Daniel was among the Israelites who were captured and taken into Babylon and “among these were [19] the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (Dan. 1:6), but under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar their names were changed to “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.” (Dan. 1:7) However, they not only had their names changed, they had to undergo an operation that made them eunuchs. As such they were permitted to be servants in the king’s palace and to eat and drink at his table, which was very rich with sumptuous foods. They told Daniel to ask the king if they could just have water and “pulse” (edible seeds). They were later found to be much better than any of the others:

Then said Daniel to Melzar, . . . Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.

Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.

So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.

Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm. (Dan. 1:11-17, 20)

Added to this, they often fasted. Daniel himself said:

I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. (Dan. 10:3)

[20] The story of Daniel and the three Hebrews is well known. Their sacrifices and the closeness they had with God attest to their faith, proper food, and fasting.

For several centuries after the time of Moses, the Israelites strayed from the ordinances, the laws and principles of the Gospel. The meaning and the purpose of the fast was also lost. By the time Jesus came to the Israelites, fasting was a mere ritual and tradition.

A very interesting principle pertaining to the fast was taught by Jesus while He lived among the people. The Pharisees noticed that the disciples of Jesus did not fast, and they questioned him about their failure in this observance:

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?

And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. (Mark 2:18-20)

And as predicted, the disciples did continue with fasting after the crucifixion, for we read:

And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23)

And while the day was coming on, Paul besought <them> all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. (Acts 27:33)

[21] After the appearance of Christ to the Nephites, they, too, obeyed the law of fasting:

And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord. (4 Nephi 1:12)

Jesus honored the laws, ordinances and commandments of the Old Testament; however, the Hebrew law of fasting had been defiled and took on a different meaning. This law had to be re-established in the form and purpose for which it had been originally intended.

John the Baptist and his disciples observed the rituals of the Jews, but Jesus was making a new concept out of the fast. A noted Bible commentator observed this and wrote:

Fasting was of two kinds–a general fast obligatory on every man, and a private fast which was voluntary. The general fasts were held on the ninth of Ab (the fifth month), the anniversary of the burning of the Temple; in time of great national need such as drought, crop failure, and pestilence; and on the day of reconciliation. They were usually held on Mondays and Fridays. Voluntary fasting is referred to in 2 Sam. 12:16, Psa. 35:13, Mt. 6:16. It was an indispensable mark of true piety–to make good a wrong, to atone for a fault, to fulfill a wish, and to secure a hearing for a prayer. The fasting of v. 18 must be the fast ordained as an expression of mourning for a beloved leader and the supererogatory fasts of the Pharisees referred to in Luke 18:12.

The sons of the bride-chamber (v. 19) were the intimate friends who waited on the groom, who rejoice while their friend is with them, but are sad when he [22] goes away. Jesus here hints that the day is coming when his disciples will have ample occasion for being sad–a hint, undoubtedly, of his impending death.

20, 21. By the use of these two homely yet radical allegories, Jesus shows very clearly (as an additional reason for not fasting) that the new religion which he has come to establish cannot be harmonized with the old customs and practices of Judaism. It must create its own forms and practices, which will best express its genius and preserve its purity and power. (Abington Bible Commentary, p. 1002)

The temporal effects of fasting are numerous, but the real purpose should be spiritual. When the ancient Israelites lost that meaning, it became the duty of Christ to restore it. Since He was going to be the means of the atonement, it was His privilege to designate the spiritual meaning of the Day of Atonement. The Jews were using the fast as a sort of “show and tell” ritual without thought–merely a function to impress people of their righteousness.

Jesus makes no formal declarations against Jewish law and ceremonial and announces no abrogation of them. He attends the synagogue (but was finally excluded), goes to the Temple, observes the feasts, and bids the leper observe the appropriate law (Mk. 1:44). In the light of his teaching elsewhere, however, it is hard to believe that the words of Mt. 5:18-19 came from Jesus. Jesus’ attitude toward the law was different from that of his fellows; the Jewish leaders clearly saw how deep that difference went, and we must believe they were as a group sincerely concerned with the defense of their faith whatever may have been the faults of individuals. For Jesus, forms and rules and institutions were here to serve men and to express life. Hence he put the law of the spirit above the law of the form in relation to fasting, e.g., and the Sabbath (Mk. 2:18-28). From this standpoint he criticizes the main forms of Jewish piety–prayer, fasting, alms-giving (Mt. 6). The form is so easily made [23] an end instead of a means, and then the spirit suffers. (Abington Bible Commentary, p. 907)

And later Jesus provided the means for breaking a fast among His listeners:

Then Jesus called his disciples <unto him>, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. (Matt. 15:32)

Fasting had an inner meaning but was lost to an outer appearance. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for wearing long hair and disfiguring themselves to make it appear that they had done much fasting and praying. But their praying and fasting was really just a pretense.

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. (Matt. 6:16-18)

Fasting had become a meaningless ritual rather than a sincere spiritual effort. The fasting of Christianity soon became an institutionalized practice. Martin Luther noticed this and commented:

But the worst of all is that we have adopted and practiced fasting as a good work: not to bring our flesh into subjection; but, as a meritorious work before God, to atone for our sins and obtain grace. And it is this that has made our fasting a stench and so blasphemous and shameful, so that no drinking and [24] eating, no gluttony and drunkenness, could have been as bad and foul. It would have been better had people been drunk day and night than to fast thus. Moreover, even if all had gone well and right, so that their fasting had been applied to the mortification of the flesh; but since it was not voluntary, and it was not left to each to do according to their own free will, but was compulsory by virtue of human commandment, and they did it unwillingly, it was all lost and to no purpose. (Sermons of Martin Luther, 2:134-135)

Luther then gives the real purpose of a religious fast:

After this comes the discipline of the flesh, the killing of its gross evil lust and giving it rest and relaxation. We must kill the flesh and subdue it with fastings, watchings, and labor. And it is from this that we learn how much and why we should fast, watch, and labor.

Therefore, I am quite prepared to allow everybody to fast on any day he likes and chose which food and how much of it he likes, provided he does not stop there but pays attention to his own body. One must discipline the flesh with fastings, watchings, and labor only insofar as it is proud and self-willed, no more. Not even if the pope, the church, bishop, father confessor, or anybody else commands it. For nobody ought to measure and regulate fasts, vigils, and tasks, matters of amount or kinds of food, or special days. These matters should be regulated by the ebb and flow of the pride and lust of the flesh. For it was solely to kill and subdue the pride and lust of the flesh that fastings, vigils, and penances were instituted. If it were not for this lust, eating would be as meritorious as fasting; sleeping as watching; idleness as labor; and one would be as good as the other without any distinction.

Now if someone should find that more wantonness arose in his flesh from eating fish than from eating eggs and meat, let him eat meat and not fish. Or, on the other hand, if he found that he were going [25] mad, or that his body and system were being ruined by fasting, or that it is no longer necessary to kill the wantonness of his flesh, then he must cease from fasting entirely and eat, sleep, and take it easy as far as it is essential to health, regardless of whether it is against the church’s law or the rules of his order. For no commandment of the church, no rule of any order, can make fasting, vigils, and penances of more worth, or the pursuit of these activities, except inasmuch and insofar as they serve to subdue or destroy the flesh and its lusts. (Sermons of Martin Luther, 2:156-57)

Luther made some excellent commentaries, but they didn’t prove any more successful in his day than they did for Moses or for Christ in their time. Their instructions were generally ignored and soon lost; and today they have been universally abandoned (with few exceptions), or what’s worse, not even known. Modern Christianity has generally lost the understanding and purpose of fasting. They have wandered so far from the knowledge of fasting that it is one of the marks of their apostasy. Alan Johnson in his book, Fasting, the Second Step to Eternal Life, made an excellent survey that illustrates the lack of obedience to this law in the modern Christian churches. The following is just a partial list of brief statements and responses by various Christian churches as to their stand on the commandment of fasting:


. . . such practices <as fasting> are not to be imposed legalistically.

We would strongly disavow any thought of fasting as a means of earning merit or exerting peculiar claims upon God.

Whatever supposed physical or health benefits may be derived from such abstentions or from fasting in general are not to become a test of spirituality or of fellowship within the community of Christians. (Fasting, Second Step to Eternal Life, p. 172)



. . . There may be some individuals among us who fast, but if so this is a personal matter and there is no body of doctrine or teaching in regard to it among us.

I believe that our Baptist people, as a whole, have given very little thought to the subject <of fasting>.

We do not believe that there is merit before God in the practice of fasting. (Ibid., p. 173)

The First Church of Christ, Scientist

. . . Our own understanding of the teachings of the Master on this subject is that fasting refers rather to the daily abstention from all material-mindedness, self-indulgence, and wrong thinking. (Ibid., p. 174)

Churches of God

We do not believe God will answer our prayers or lift our burdens merely because we go without food. It is my personal conviction that fasting is neglected in our fellowship. (Ibid., p. 174)


The Religious Society of Friends does not have any testimony or witness regarding fasting. (Ibid., p. 175)


Jehovah’s Witnesses

For the Christian organization as such to fast now would be a self-imposed fast, one not commanded by God. It would be out of order now that the Bridegroom has returned and true worship has been restored. (Ibid., p. 175)


. . . There is certainly no idea of merit that is achieved before Almighty God because of fasting. The idea of fasting for merit would be contrary to the central doctrine of the Lutheran Church, justification by faith. (Ibid., p. 176)

[27] Alan Johnson’s conclusion regarding the world’s Christian churches and their views on fasting is well stated:

A common observation of today is that present-day Christianity does not possess a unity of the faith for which the Savior worked and prayed. (John 17:20-22) From the foregoing statements, it is evident that the many Christian churches are equally far from a oneness regarding the doctrine which precedes and produces faith, the doctrine of fasting. This points out even more clearly the dire need for the restored gospel to be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. (Ibid., p. 182)

The formal fast didn’t seem to change the lives of those who observed it. Fasting was a religious observance that was common in all periods of Hebrew history, but the time of their exile brought it to the fore. For awhile the Hebrews complained that God did not hear their prayers nor heed their fasts, and the prophets rebuked them saying that even while they were fasting they found time to indulge in pleasures and business–even oppressing their laborers and neighbors. Their fasts were an external exercise; no wonder their voices were never heard on high!

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below;

Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

(Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3)

When fasts and oblations are offered to the Lord with the heart as well as the voice, then the soul can make penance. Only then will God hear and answer.

All the purposes and principles connected with the fast have never been done away. They have just been modified by man, as so many other eternal principles and doctrines of the Gospel. But, they are as true today as they ever were, and were intended to remain with man upon the earth until the Savior [28] comes again. When His kingdom is established on the earth, there will be no need to fast.

Apparently, Christ is on a type of fast now for He said, “I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. * * * I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.” (Luke 22:16, 18) That time has not yet arrived; therefore, the law of fasting is still in effect.


[29]                              Chapter 3


And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. (Moroni 6:5)

. . . and this is one great and important principle of fasts, approved of the Lord. (DHC 7:413)


Laying a Firm Foundation

One of the main purposes of fasting is to gain spirituality; in fact, all the ordinances and practices of the Church should be done with the desire of increasing one’s spirituality. Without that heavenly influence, a church would be nothing more than any other social organization. For this reason members of the LDS Church are required to fast.

In the early days of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the law of fasting was revealed. By the time the first temple was erected in Kirtland, Ohio, December 1832, a revelation was received concerning the law of fasting and was reiterated several times:

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, . . . (D. & C. 88:119; 109:8)

[30] And let the lower part of the inner court be dedicated unto me for your sacrament offering, and for your preaching, and your fasting, and your praying and the offering up of your most holy desires unto me, saith your Lord. (D. & C. 95:16)

And that this house may be a house of prayer, a house of fasting. (D. & C. 109:16)

A few years after the first revelation on fasting, a few Elders used fasting to help them receive revelation and guidance from the Lord. Wilford Woodruff records the incidents surrounding this occasion:

The interview closed about 10 o’clock P.M. I then repaired into the lower Court of the Lords house in Company with Elders Joseph B. Nobles & G. W. Meeks to spend the night (after being anointed) in prayer & fasting before God. The vales being closed We entered the Elders pulpit & there upon our knees we plead with God & we covenanted with each other in the holy stand that we would not give sleep to our eyes neither take food untill we received a blessing from God by the outpourings of his spirit upon us if it was untill the end of three days. (Wilford Woodruff Journal 1:130, April 1837)

On the next day Woodruff met with several of the Quorum of Seventies for a solemn assembly and he recorded:

The spirit of God sat upon us & we were satisfied with our blessing. * * * There was much of the Spirit of Prophecy & revelation poured upon the heads of the anointed in the different quorums. (Ibid., 1:30, April 5, 1837)

The principle of fasting must have been very important to Wilford Woodruff, as a few years later he also records in his journal:

[31] 27th Day of PRAYER & FASTING. One year ago this day the Prophet Joseph & Patriarch Hiram Smith were martered. I Appointed this day throughout the Churches in this land as a day of prayer & fasting. I arose in the morning & fasted through the day. Spent a part of the day in prayer & a part of it in writing. At 6 o’clock I took sumthing to eat & met with the Saints in Birmingham at 8 o’clock and had an interesting time & returned to Br Prints & spent the night. (Ibid.,vol. 2, p. 577, June 1845)

About a month prior to this journal entry (May 17, 1845), the Council of Twelve had issued the following statement, read by Orson Pratt:

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 everyone 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. (DHC 7:413)

How well have the Latter-day Saints lived up to their end of this amazing “insurance contract”? This law of helping the poor never changes–as we give to others we gain for ourselves. Oliver B. Huntington related this lesson he learned from Joseph Smith:

I heard Joseph Smith say something like this: “Some people say that it is not right to seek to aggrandize one’s own self, that self-aggrandizement is not a good principle,” but said he <J.S.>, “I say it is a true and godlike principle; but it can be done permanently, justly and righteously in only one way or upon only one plan in order to be eternal in its durability. If any person will build up others, and [32] permanently aggrandize others, he in turn will be aggrandized eternally; that is the only principle or plan upon which it can be done and remain forever.” (Oliver B. Huntington Journal, p. 19)

If we gained no more than this understanding from our fasting, it would be very worthwhile because very few people understand that principle.

Fasting to save money for the poor is a very important doctrine of Christ. Not only do we feel the pleasure of helping others, but when we fast, we better understand the feelings of hunger that the poor experience. This is a law that Church, members and true Saints of God should certainly obey, as the Lord said:

And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple. (D & C. 52:40)

Fasting is a doctrine that is as old as Christianity itself, and certainly we can learn from lessons of the past. Whether we are fasting or feasting, it should be done with the poor in mind, because the Lord told the disciples in Jerusalem:

. . . When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made.

But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:

And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:12-14)

This unselfish principle was also taught to the Nephites:

[33] And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you–that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God–I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. (Mosiah 4:26)

It was also a part of the Law of Moses:

If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:

But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, . . .

Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: . . .

For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. (Deut. 15:5, 7-8, 9-11)

Thursday Declared the Day of Fasting

But let’s continue with the principle of fasting as it pertains to the LDS Church. John Taylor explained that Joseph Smith was the one who declared the first Thursday as a monthly fast day for the Church:

You know that the first Thursday in each month we hold as a fast day. How many here know the origin of this day? Before tithing was paid, the poor were supported by donations. They came to Joseph and wanted help, in Kirtland, and he said there should be a fast day, which was decided upon. It was to be held once a month, as it is now, and all that would have been eaten that day, of flour, or meat, or butter, or fruit, or anything else, was to be carried to the fast [34] meeting and put into the hands of a person selected for the purpose of taking care of it and distributing it among the poor. If we were to do this now faithfully, do you think the poor would lack for flour, or butter, or cheese, or meat, or sugar, or anything they needed to eat? No, there would be more than could be used by all the poor among us. It is economy in us to take this course, and do better by our poor brethren and sisters than they have hitherto been done by. Let this be published in our newspapers. Let it be sent forth to the people, that on the first Thursday of each month, the fast day, all that would be eaten by husbands and wives and children and servants should be put in the hands of the Bishop for the sustenance of the poor. I am willing to do my share as well as the rest, and if there are no poor in my ward, I am willing to divide with those wards where there are poor. If the sisters will look out for rooms for those sisters who need to be taken care of, and see them provided for, you will find that we will possess more comfort and more peace in our hearts, and our spirits will be buoyant and light, full of joy and peace. The Bishops should, through their teachers, see that every family in their wards, who is able, should donate what they would naturally consume on the fast day to the poor. (J.D. 12:115-116)


Apparently there is no positive statement as to why Thursday was selected as the monthly Fast Day for the Church, but one reason may be that it was considered by many to be the day that Christ was crucified. Fasting should help us in remembering the sacrifice and atonement of the Savior when we are “away from the Lord”, either spiritually or physically. To reiterate:

Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is [35] with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. (Matt. 9:14-15)

So, since the Sabbath, or the Lord’s day, is a day when we should be “with him” spiritually, and we partake of the “Lord’s supper”, Sunday is not necessarily the day we should fast, as it is during the rest of the week that we are “without him”.

Whether Thursday was appointed as a fast day in the early days of the Church because of it possibly being the day of crucifixion is not known for sure, but it seems more appropriate as a spiritual day for fasting than on Sunday, the Lord’s Day.

Thursday continued as the Fast Day for many years, and fasting was maintained as an important law of the Church, even in times of scarcity. Daniel Wells related:

The first Thursday in every month, let us remember, is a day set apart for fasting, prayer and donations to the poor. It will soon come around again. Notwithstanding there may be a little scarcity felt in the midst of the people, do not let us neglect those things. Do not forget them, and let us live up to those things necessary in the midst of the Saints of the Most High God, so as to keep a full flow of the Spirit in each and every one of us, and seek to make a better use of the blessings with which the Lord has surrounded us. (J.D. 12:237)

Church Historian, George A. Smith, also commented on the importance of fasting during those early years in the Salt Lake Valley:

During the days of our early settlement, it was necessary that measures be taken to supply the wants [36] of those who were without food, and for years a fast was held every month, and sometimes every week. The amount of food that would have been consumed by a family during that fast was presented to the needy, and in this way, struggling for three years in succession, the people were sustained, and nobody perished. When we did finally succeed in raising the necessaries of life, thousands of strangers came pouring in here, a great many of them destitute of bread. They had started for the gold mines without knowing how far it was, what outfit to take, or how to take care of themselves; and great numbers of them, when they reached here, had to be assisted on their journey, and there were thousands who went to California during the early days of the gold excitement there, who must have perished had it not been for the assistance they obtained from the settlements of these valleys. (J.D. 15:31)

Many Church sermons were given on this principle of fasting throughout the following years, such as the one by Franklin D. Richards in the mid-1880’s:

Do not this poor widow and that lame, unfortunate brother need the benefits of the baptismal font for their deceased kindred just as much as the rich, the sound and the fortunate? I think they do. How then can they obtain a right and title to their blessings? The Lord has instituted a means by which they may receive their blessings by the payment of their tithing. The first Thursday of every month is a Fast Day, for the Saints to gather together in prayer and fasting, and to bring their offerings for the poor, that the afflicted and unfortunate may not lack for food or clothing, and the comforts of life. Now, if a poor man received one hundred pounds of flour or any other gift, it is his privilege to pay one-tenth of it as tithing, and have it credited to him on the book as a tithing payer, and in this way he pays just as much as the man who pays one hundred dollars. The same with the poor sister who receives her aid from the Relief Society. She can pay her tithing in the same way–have her name recorded [37] on the books, and thus acquire the right to be baptized for her dead kindred. These rights and privileges are not confined to the rich. They are for people of all conditions in life, provided they comply with the requirements of the Lord. The Savior said that the widow, with her two mites, paid in more than the rich out of their abundance. Some have been inclined to practice this principle on a kind of sliding scale. If they donate an amount to the building of a Tabernacle or a Temple, they must take that out of their tithing. This is not the correct way. (J.D. 26:298)

Fast Day Changed to Sunday

On November 5, 1896, a significant change was announced by the First Presidency of the Church (Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith) establishing that the day of fasting would be on Sunday rather than Thursday. Dr. James R. Clark explained:

According to Roberts (CHC 4:108-112) the Fast Day mentioned in the second paragraph of this address was instituted following the famine of 1855-1856) * The principle underlying the inauguration of the Fast Day at that time was the rationing of foodstuffs by those families who had plenty and sharing with those whose crops had failed and had little or none.

According to President George Q. Cannon, in his History of the Mormons published in 1891, . . . “the saints are admonished to remember the poor and contribute means, food or money, for their benefit; which in value should at least equal the amount saved by the person or family so fasting.” (pp. 17-18)

This change, beginning in November, 1896, of the Fast Day from the first Thursday to the first Sunday of each month marks an adjustment of the “Mormon” society to an increased industrialization which made a week-day Fast Service no longer feasible.

The address also calls the saints back to some of the original concepts of the Fast Day from which they [38] were drifting away. (Messages of the First Presidency, 3:281)

(*Note: Since Joseph Smith had originated a Thursday Fast Day during his lifetime, according to John Taylor as previously quoted, it was apparently re-instituted with greater emphasis by Brigham Young in the mid 1850’s.)

This change was made during the tumultuous times of that decade when so many other changes were being made. The announcement is quoted here in its entirety:

Dear Brethren and Sisters:  It has been a practice in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sanctioned by the word of the Lord, to fast and pray, and in this manner to seek for that faith which Saints should possess, and obtain that spirit of humility which we are commanded to cultivate.

Shortly after the arrival of the people in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, the first Thursday in each month was set apart as a day of fasting and prayer. The members of the Church were enjoined to bring on that day their contributions for the relief and sustenance of the poor, and hand them to the Bishop of the ward.

At the time of the adoption of this regulation it was very convenient for the people generally to meet together in their places of worship on that day. The conditions were such that they, being of one faith, employers and employed, could leave their labor and devote a few hours to the Lord.

For many years these meetings were well attended, and they were of a most interesting character, and were a comfort and a strength to all who shared in them, as it was the practice for persons of both sexes to bear their testimony and take active part in them in each ward under the direction of the bishopric.

As the years rolled by, conditions changed, and it became more difficult for the people generally, and [39] especially those in steady employment, to attend these meetings, until at the present time they have dwindled to such an extent that comparatively few have the opportunity of attending them. Thursday as a day of fasting and prayer in the Church no longer serves the object for which it was intended.

Our attention has been called to this subject, and after mature deliberation, it has been decided to change the day that has heretofore been devoted to this purpose. Instead of the customary assemblages in the various wards throughout Zion on the first Thursday in each month, we have concluded to set apart the first Sunday in every month as the day for the regular fast meeting.

Hereafter, therefore, we desire the Latter-day Saints, under the direction of the Presidents of Stakes and the Bishops, to meet in their several places of worship on the afternoon of the first Sunday in each month, whenever it can be done conveniently, and devote the meeting to the administration of the Sacrament, to the bearing of testimony by the members of the Church, to the blessing of children and the confirming of members in the Church, and to such other services as have usually been attended to at such meetings. We feel assured that excellent results will follow the giving of members of the Church an opportunity to bear their testimony to each other and to seek for the gifts which the Lord has promised to those who keep His commandments.

Care should also be taken on such occasions to see that the wants of the poor are relieved by the contributions of the Saints in their behalf, that no cry of the indigent or suffering shall arise from our land in the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

In Salt Lake City, instead of the people meeting in the Tabernacle on the afternoon of the first Sunday in each month, we have concluded that it will be better for that service to be dispensed with, and for the Latter-day Saints to meet in their several wards on that afternoon, so as to give all the members of the ward, including the aged and infirm, and others who are unable to go to the Tabernacle, an opportunity to [40] participate in the fast meeting and share in the blessings of the occasion. In other Stakes where general meetings are held as in this city, we suggest that they also be dispensed with on the first Sunday of each month, and that the Saints meet in their places of worship in the several wards.

In some places the custom has arisen to consider it a fast to omit eating breakfast. This is not in accordance with the views and practice of the past. When fasts were observed in the early days, it was the rule to not partake of food from the previous day until after the meeting in the afternoon of the fast day. In making donations to the poor also it has been the understanding that the food that would be necessary for the two meals should be donated to the poor, and as much more as those who are liberally inclined and have the means may feel disposed to give.

In giving this counsel to the Church upon this subject, we include all the missions where the Elders are laboring, either in the United States or in foreign lands. We think this arrangement will suit the convenience and circumstances of all the Latter-day Saints throughout the world, and we would like it to be observed by all the organized branches of the Church in every land, so that our fasting and praying may be uniform and the time be understood by all.

Before closing this address to the Saints, we feel led to say that if there should be sickness or any evil resting upon or threatening the people, these meetings furnish an excellent opportunity to bring such afflictions and troubles before the Lord. By approaching Him in the spirit of humility and union, we can supplicate Him to remove these afflictions or evils from the individuals or from the people. Our past experience has proved to us how willing our Father in Heaven is to hear our cries in the hours of extremity and difficulty, when we approach Him in a proper spirit and with proper faith. He is quick to hear the cries of His people and He has promised to us that if we will draw near unto Him, He will draw near unto us. Such occasions as these, therefore, ought to be taken advantage of by the afflicted, whether in an individual or in a collective capacity.

[41] With constant prayers for your welfare and happiness and the prosperity of the work of God,

We are your brethren,

Wilford Woodruff,

George Q. Cannon

Joseph F. Smith,

First Presidency

(Published in Mill. Star, Dec. 3, 1896, pp. 776-78;

Des. Evening News, Nov. 7, 1896, p. 7;

Des. Weekly, Nov. 14, 1896, p. 678;

Mess. of 1st Pres., 3:281-284)

Church leaders continued to emphasize the importance of fasting and donating fast offerings to the Bishop in order to help the poor. In 1917 Joseph F. Smith exhorted the Saints to continue with this program and carefully explained what was expected in practicing it correctly:

The Nature and Purpose of Fasting.  The law to the Latter-day Saints, as understood by the authorities of the Church, is that food and drink are not to be partaken of for 24 hours, “from even to even,” and that the Saints are to refrain from all bodily gratification and indulgences. Fast day being on the Sabbath, it follows, of course, that all labor is to be abstained from. In addition, the leading and principal object of the institution of the fast among the Latter-day Saints was that the poor might be provided with food and other necessities. It is, therefore, incumbent upon every Latter-day Saint to give to his bishop, on fast day, the food that he or his family would consume for the day, that it may be given to the poor for their benefit and blessing; or, in lieu of the food, that its equivalent amount, or, if the person is wealthy, a liberal donation, in money, be so reserved and dedicated to the poor. (Gospel Doctrine, p. 243)

In 1929 President Heber J. Grant commented on the broad blessings that could be received by Church members upon an honest payment of fast offerings:

[42] If they were honest and conscientious in the payment of the equivalent of two meals for themselves and their families once a month, the amount of money actually saved (and they would benefit physically by fasting two meals) would take care of every person in distressed circumstances in this Church–with the fast day donations alone. There would be means also in the hands of the Church, to furnish employment for every Latter-day Saint needing it. (Gospel Standards, p. 59)

In 1951 Elder Delbert Stapley also reminded the Saints about the need for fasting in the Church:

As I have traveled about the Church these past few months with members of the general welfare committee and listened to their talks on fasting and prayer, I have felt this principle has great spiritual power and opportunity for the blessings of God to the people of the Church and to the Church itself. I have been impressed by its great spiritual significance. It seems to me it is a source of strength, a source of power, a source of blessing that perhaps as a people we are not using enough; that it does have tremendous spiritual value to those who observe the law and who apply it faithfully. It also seems to me that fasting and prayer can be employed to bless others, and if we would faithfully observe the law, the blessing of our Heavenly Father would collectively be given to the people of the Church. (Conf. Rept., Oct. 5-7, 1951, p. 122)

In 1974 Ezra Taft Benson beautifully described the methods and benefits of fasting:

Periodic fasting can help clear up the mind and strengthen the body and the spirit. The usual fast, the one we are asked to participate in for fast Sunday, is for 24 hours without food or drink. Some people, feeling the need, have gone on longer fasts of abstaining from food but have taken the needed liquids. Wisdom should be used, and the fast should be broken with light [43] eating. To make a fast most fruitful, it should be coupled with prayer and meditation; physical work should be held to a minimum, and it is a blessing if one can ponder on the scriptures and the reason for the fast. (Tchgs. of E.T. Benson, p. 331.)


And so the principle of fasting was strongly established and has continued in the LDS Church for 160 years. But do we as Saints accept and practice that doctrine as fully as we should–or is it merely a ritual that is adhered to with little spiritual significance in our lives? Are we as individuals and as a church missing out on the blessings that come from faith in fasting, persistence in prayer?

Fast Offering Message for March

Thanks for the coutesy you extend each month to the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood as they visit your home to collect fast offerings. We invite you to join with the other members of the ward tomorrow in refraining from eating two meals and in attending the fast meeting. The Savior himself found added blessings through fasting and prayer. How much more needful than it is for us who are imperfect to seek the spiritual strength and power that fasting brings.

Ward Bishopric


[44]                              Chapter 4



A few spoonfuls of medicine cannot undo the effects of years of wrong living. (The Grape Cure, J. Brandt, p. 161)

Healthy Eating

Good health is one of the monitors of our happiness and certainly should be a most important objective in our life. Good health depends on many different factors; strangely enough they are easy to find but so often overlooked.

A man might walk over a creek bed that has hundreds of rocks that look very similar, yet there may be diamonds, agates or other precious or semi-precious stones that would go unnoticed. With only a little knowledge anyone could find these precious stones, but lacking this knowledge one could overlook such treasures.

Knowledge about good health is similar–only the search is not nearly so difficult. One trip through the produce section of the grocery store where all the precious foods are easily seen and well displayed is like walking over a creek bed and seeing all the precious stones already cut and sparkling. Yet many people walk past the good food of the produce section and [45] stop at the meat counter to purchase a variety of dead animals. It is surprising that some people eat meat as often as three times a day!

For healthy eating, a stove should seldom be used, yet it is turned on for nearly every meal in the average America household. It is amazing to see people eat a fresh salad and remark how good it tastes; and they soon are filled–something they had supposed a salad couldn’t do. As one continues to eat fresh salads, they become more and more desirable, and the appeal of pork and beef is soon diminished.

The human body is often burdened with excessive chemicals, minerals, drugs and fats that it cannot immediately eliminate. It is not designed to be continually working to get rid of inorganic substances. It, therefore, reacts in the next best way by depositing them in some out of the way place–usually some weak spot, perhaps an injury or bruise in which a cancer or tumor may develop. We soon experience pain or sickness, and at that point we begin to be very concerned about our health.

When we have a severe headache, it is easy to forget the famine in India or the war between the Jews and Arabs. No matter what is going on locally, or internationally, nothing is of greater consequence than our current malady. Only then do we take measures to preserve our physical health, and by then it is often too late to restore the body to a healthy state.

Let’s consult the scriptures to see what they contain about laws of good health. The Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, as well as many teachings of latter-day prophets, abound with wisdom, knowledge and spiritual revelations pertaining to good health and fasting.

[46] Going back to the very beginning of this earthlife as we know it–with the creation of earth and man, the Creator gave instructions for proper eating in order to sustain life:

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed: to you it shall be for meat. (Gen. 1:29)

According to this, man was instructed to eat from the trees and from herbs of the ground; he was meant to be a vegetarian and a “fruititarian”.

Again in our dispensation the Lord has revealed even more concerning herbs, fruits, vegetables and grains:

And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man–

Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; and these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit; whether in the ground or above the ground. (D. & C. 89:10, 11, 16)

And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and not by the hand of an enemy. (D. & C. 42:43)

There is an important message here for anyone interested in their health, and much of this information is now being discovered by food preparers, health stores, herbologists, and even the medical profession–about 150 years after the Lord revealed it to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The great problem today is that most Mormons still have not discovered it.

[47] In actuality, we are transgressing and disobeying God’s law of health when we fail to live on healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Instead, most of mankind choose to follow the advertising to “eat beef” and expose ourselves to the chemical-laden blood and fat of animals. Cholesterol is built up in our systems and clogs our blood lines. Chemicals are added to the meat through the food that animals are forced to eat, and these chemicals stay in the meat until they are ingested into the system of people who eat it.

The human body is a wonderful creation, but it cannot always perform miracles, such as throwing away excessive chemicals, drugs, or poisons that get into it. The body is in reality its own doctor and engineer. It cleanses, builds, rebuilds and doctors itself. Natural elements such as oxygen from the air, water, and healthy foods are compatible to the system and used as fuel; however, many chemicals added by man act as poisons and react against the system.

When the body becomes taxed, overloaded or damaged, it does its best to take care of itself. Doctors too often take advantage of these conditions, and want to take matters into their own hands when sometimes they are not justified. Johanna Brandt wisely comments on this:

No surgeons, no medical laws can compel you to submit to the dreaded scalpel. Too often an operation is the first resort and you are rushed to the hospital in a dazed and panic-stricken state. It should be the last resort. Every other method should have been employed before you permit the delicate nerves and tissues of your body to be severed. (The Grape Cure, Brandt, p. 125)

Basil Shackleton also stated the same in his book with the same name:

[48] I state now, quite categorically, that it is quite impossible for a doctor, or any other person for that matter, to actually heal, for the simple reason that the body alone does its own healing.

The most that a doctor can do is to assist that healing. . . . (The Grape Cure, Shackleton, p. 18)

A few personal experiences are included here to illustrate this point. A few years ago, after a physical checkup, the doctor told me that my blood pressure was too high, my cholesterol was too high, my weight was too heavy, and my blood was anemic. The doctor said it was because I had been eating too much meat, milk, cheese, and eggs. I said, “Wait a minute, Doc. When I was in high school, I took a health class and for one whole semester we studied a book recommended by the medical profession in which it said that to maintain good health we should daily eat something from each different food group, one of which consisted of meat, eggs, cheese, milk and butter. Now you’re telling me that my health is bad because I ate what the doctors recommended?” He put his head down and said, “I know, I know.”

The doctor then sent me to the hospital for a series of tests, which lasted for a couple of days. A week later I reported back to him for the test results. Before he had a chance to give me the information, however, I took this opportunity to put in another dig at the medical profession. “You remember when I was in your office last you told me that I was eating too much meat, milk, eggs, cheese, and butter? Well, I think you should know that while I was at the University of Utah Medical Center (noted for their excellent reputation as heart specialists), for two days they fed me meat, milk, eggs, cheese and butter!” He grabbed a notepad and started writing something down–hopefully a note to the cooks.

[49] As a result of the tests and because I had had this problem of high blood pressure for over ten years (about 165/100), the doctor prescribed some medicines to bring it down or it could be disastrous. I tried taking many different pills, but some of them made me so sick I couldn’t work.

I decided to take another approach and read many books on fasting and healthy eating. I went on a few long fasts over a six-month period, and even though reducing my blood pressure had not been my primary purpose, I discovered that it had improved greatly, now averaging about 140/74. This supported Dr. Herbert Shelton’s conclusion that hypertension can be helped by fasting:

The speed with which fasting results in a marked reduction of blood pressure indicates the importance of rest in reducing systemic tension and excitement. The reduction may be so great in a very few days as to astonish the patient. As the toxic load is reduced, the nervous system becomes less irritated, the functions of the kidneys, adrenal, thyroid and pituitary glands are restored to normal, so that blood pressure falls to new levels, even to normal or slightly below, and tends to remain down after eating is resumed. Indeed, it will remain at or about the normal level so long as the patient continues to live in a manner to avoid the redevelopment of toxemia.

All of this is to say that the reduction of blood pressure secured by means of the fast is a genuine reduction and not a forced state. The organism is not crippled in the process as it is when a gland or portions of the sympathetic system are removed. If we cut out causes instead of cutting out organs, we secure a genuine and lasting elimination of effects. (Fasting Can Save Your Life, Shelton, p. 140)

In early November 1992, my doctor called to report the results of my recent tests. He was amazed that my blood condition and blood pressure were much improved, and had to admit that, “You must be doing something right!” He had previously said that only medicines and surgery could help.

I also recall another incident that made me question the accuracy of some in the medical profession. Many years ago, [50] while I was working for the Federal Government, the medical profession had recommended that little salt tablets be placed in containers by the drinking fountains. During the long hot summers everyone was supposed to take some salt tablets when they drank water. A few years later, the medical profession changed their mind and said that salt was bad for the body system and we should put a definite limit on salt intake. All of the mechanical salt dispensers were pulled off the walls and we never saw them again.

These experiences lead me to believe that when it is said that doctors practice medicine, that is exactly what they are doing.

We are a brainwashed society. During the past 50 years we have made many blunders in our eating because of the false propaganda we have been taught–not just from the medical profession, but from advertisers, the Federal Government, and well-meaning friends. And what’s worse, this situation continues.

For example, at one time flour had so many things taken out of it that nothing much was left but starch. White bread made from this flour lacked so much food value that it could not honestly be sold or advertised as a food product. The bakeries were forced by law to add trace amounts of minerals so that it would at least qualify as a food–hence the term “enriched”. Unfortunately this condition still exists today in some breads on the grocery shelves, and many other food items suffer in the same way from this “man-handling” system.

It is bad enough to just eat this “junk” and suffer from the lack of food value, but in addition there are chemicals and poisons added to it which make it even worse. These react upon the body and are the beginning of serious problems. It [51] doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, Mormon, Republican, or Chinese–your system will suffer the consequences.

Not everyone has faith nor the gift of healing or to be healed. In such circumstances it then requires works, for many times faith without works is dead. Faith is a part of every religious soul, but oftentimes it requires more than just verbal expressions. Faith can also be exerted in the promise that God made concerning the herbs and fruits which he created for the purpose of good health. There is a harmony between faith and works–precept and practice. Frequently it takes both.

In the country of Africa the people’s diet is mainly composed of meat. Over the years, the results have indicated the questionable value of meat as a food, because Africa has the highest cancer rate of any nation in the world!

America also has an extremely high cancer rate; it is one of the top killers in this country. How strange it is that we have all the finest medical and scientific facilities, the best medical schools for training doctors, and the best laboratories for research of any nation in the world; yet so many are dying from cancer. Our food is prepared under Government supervision; it is packaged with excellent scientific means of preservation; it is rotated in the markets; and there is certainly no shortage of food items. Food can be eaten in Utah the day after it was grown in California. Exotic foods from tropical forests are available every day. We can eat fresh oranges, lettuce and bananas at the same time we are weathering a heavy snow storm. But we are dying at half the age we should be! Johanna Brandt observed that:

An appalling state of affairs was revealed in an issue of the Journal of the American Association for Medico-Physical Research by the former president of the society, Dr. Frederick Dugdale, of Boston. He stated [52] that nineteen children in every hundred who reach the age of ten show evidence of cancer. (The Grape Cure, p. 133)

To kill a plant, it is necessary to get rid of the root. To kill a cancer, tumor or disease, it is also necessary to get at the root of its cause. Amputation of an arm or an organ does not remove the cause of the cancer that has destroyed them. The cause still remains. Even after an organ is removed, it is often necessary for doctors to operate again.

People take aspirin to stop a headache, but it does not remove the cause of the headache–only the pain. The body is still harboring the cause.

If you are driving down the road and come to a red light, you could do two things: (1) Wait for the cause that made it red to change, making it green; or (2) cover up the red and continue on at great risk. Covering up the effect of something does not remove its cause.

Food contains the elements for building the body. It is also the fuel to keep it running. Obviously you can build a good building with good bricks, but poor construction materials can produce disaster–either in buildings or in the body. The body is a machine that is continually running and burning fuel–both good and bad fuel.

The body needs different amounts of fuel, depending on its work load. Because the required amount of food varies with each individual, there is a problem as to the proper amount it should take in. Too much food increases the body fat and causes a loss of vigor and efficiency. Not enough food causes the body to try making up the supply itself.

[53] The average American eats much more food than he needs, and he is the person most in need of fasting. Fasting for him would be an aid to the system rather than a detriment. But unfortunately most Americans seldom, if ever, fast.

A good experiment to conduct is to try eating healthy food for a while and refusing junk food. Also, try fasting for a while by restricting almost all food. The results are surprising and satisfying. Remember that breaking away from tradition is often more difficult than breaking away from food.


About 40,000 fasts were conducted by Dr. Shelton over a period of 50 years among people of all ages and with a variety of health problems. The results of this study were astounding and hard to believe, especially by those who knew very little about fasting:

The dramatic recoveries that occur during a fast of proper length and taken under the most favorable conditions can be believed only by those who have had opportunity to observe them. The general tendency of both the layman and the physician, when hearing stories of such recoveries, is to dismiss them as too fantastic for consideration. Yet, there is nothing miraculous about the effects of the fast. If we think on the matter a little, we cannot escape the conclusion that fasting is the most natural and the most sensible means of care of the sick body of which we have any knowledge.

For over one hundred and forty years, natural hygienists have employed the fast as a means of promoting health and enabling the body to recover speedily from illness. They have amassed extraordinary clinical experience in this area. These experiences turn into the deeply-rooted conviction that the fast is a [54] constructive force which must be utilized and developed as part of the regular practices of modern life. (Fasting Can Save Your Life, Shelton, p. 20)

As humans, we have a natural tendency to restrict our eating when we are stricken with sickness or trauma. It is interesting to note that this same natural response is evident in the animal kingdom as well:

The sick or wounded animal finds a secluded spot where he can keep warm, where he is protected from the weather, where he can have peace and quiet and be undisturbed. There he rests and fasts. He may, for example, have lost a limb, but he lies there in his privacy and generally recovers without drugs, without bandages or surgery.

In the animal world fasting is a tremendously important factor of existence. Animals fast not only when sick or wounded but also during hibernation or aestivation (sleeping throughout the summer in tropical climates).

Some animals fast during the mating season and in many cases during the nursing period. Some birds fast while their eggs are being hatched. Some animals fast immediately after birth. There are forms of spiders who do not eat for six months after they are born. Some wild creatures fast when taken into captivity, and a domestic pet, a dog or a cat, may not eat for several days when it comes into a new environment. Animals also survive forced fasts during periods of drought, snow, cold, and live for long periods when no food is available. (Fasting Can Save Your Life, Shelton, p. 16)

And also–

Sickness is Nature’s way of indicating that you are filled with toxic wastes and internal poison. Dead people do not have miseries. It is only when you are alive and have “Vital Power” that you have physical [55] problems. In fasting, you are working with Nature to help expel the wastes and poisons you have accumulated in your body. Every animal in the wilderness knows this. Fasting is the only method an animal has to help overcome any physical trouble that befalls him. This is pure animal instinct. We humans have lived so long in this soft civilization that we have lost the instinct to fast when troubles occur in our bodies.

You may have experienced in your life a time when you were suffering physically and felt no desire for food. Food even repulsed you . . . kind but ignorant relatives or friends told you, you must “eat to keep up your strength”. The very last thing you needed was food, because your subconscious mind was signaling you to stop eating. Nature wanted you to fast. (The Miracle of Fasting, Paul C. Bragg, p. 23)

In addition to fasting as a natural method of healing, there are many other reasons for obeying this important principle and commandment. Let’s review some of the reasons mentioned by those who have understood this principle:

Faith to Cast Out Devils

The Savior told his apostles on one occasion, when they had not faith sufficient to cast out devils, that that kind by which he accomplished it came only by fasting and prayer. How does the faith required as the first principle in the plan of salvation or gospel come? Let Paul answer: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17) It is not the letter then that bringeth faith, but hearing the word of God dispensed by a living oracle or minister of God, clothed upon with power from on high. It is not a recorded gospel, but the preached word which emanates with power from a man of God inspired by the Holy Ghost. . . .(John Taylor, Gospel Kingdom, p. 332)


Forgiveness of Sin

A cloud is gathering in blackness. There is rapidly coming something that will try you, perhaps as you have never been tried before. All, however, that is necessary for us to do now is to see where our faults and weaknesses lie, if we have any. If we have been unfaithful in the past, let us renew our covenants with God and determine, by fasting and prayer, that we will get forgiveness of our sins that the Spirit of the Almighty may rest upon us, that peradventure we may escape those powerful temptations that are approaching. The cloud is gathering in blackness. Therefore, take warning. (Lorenzo Snow, Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p. 150, May 6, 1889)

Improving the Intellect

A clogged digestive system is but the inevitable forerunner of a clogged brain. Mr. Upton Sinclair, who has written a symposium on fasting, advocating particularly the “fasting cure,” suggests that poets would write greater poetry if they but understood the merits of fasting and then adds, “The great thing about the fast is that it sets you a new standard of health.” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 209)


Some may say, “Well, that isn’t much, I cannot see how the refraining from partaking of food once a month regularly is going to give me any self-control.” It does, however; it is one of the best lessons that adults as well as children can practice. Appetite is calling; there is a yearning, and the natural tendency is to yield. (David O. McKay, Conf. Rept., Apr.1915, p.103)

Helping the Poor

Now, what does obedience to this requirement <of fasting> mean in aiding those who might be in need? It [57] means that money need not be taken from the tithing fund because some of us did not comply with the principle of fast offering! Think what it means, and particularly when we are aiding ourselves by doing it. We are losing nothing financially; we are blessing ourselves physically; and we are gaining greater spiritual power to withstand the temptations that we meet in life; and, best of all, we are practicing the very essence of our religion; the true Christ spirit is manifest in that little offering. (David O. McKay, Conf. Rept., Apr. 1915, pp. 105-106)

Strengthening Marriage

In true marriage there must be a union of minds as well as of hearts. Emotions must not wholly determine decisions, but the mind and the heart, strengthened by fasting and prayer and serious consideration, will give one a maximum chance of marital happiness. (Spencer W. Kimball, Tchgs. of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 302)

To Receive Patriarchal Blessings

I would encourage you brethren of the Aaronic Priesthood to receive a patriarchal blessing. Study it carefully and regard it as personal scripture to you–for that is what it is. A patriarchal blessing is the inspired and prophetic statement of your life’s mission together with blessings, cautions, and admonitions as the patriarch may be prompted to give. Young men, receive your patriarchal blessing under the influence of fasting and prayer, and then read it regularly that you may know God’s will for you. (Ezra Taft Benson, Conf. Rept., Apr. 1986)

As Part of the Sabbath

The true Sabbath is a day of worship, a day for spiritual refreshment, a day to learn the laws of the Lord, a day to renew our covenants, a day to pay our [58] devotions to the Most High. The true Sabbath is a day to remember the Lord and his goodness to us, a day to read and ponder his holy word, a day to confess our sins, a day to strengthen each other, and to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction. The true Sabbath is a day of preaching and testifying, a day of fasting and prayer, a day of rejoicing and thanksgiving, a day to partake of the good things of the Spirit and to sanctify our souls. The true Sabbath is essential to salvation, and those who use it to the full, according to the divine intent, shall attain celestial rest. (Bruce R. McConkie, Mortal Messiah 1:202)

To Get the Spirit of Leadership

I am confident that as leaders we do not do enough fasting and praying. If you want to get the spirit of your office and calling as a new president of a quorum, a new high councilman, a new bishop–try fasting for a period. I don’t mean just missing one meal, then eating twice as much the next meal. I mean really fasting, and praying during that period. It will do more to give you the real spirit of your office and calling and permit the Spirit to operate through you than anything I know. (Ezra Taft Benson, Fresno, Calif. Prsthd. Ldrshp. Mtg, 13 Sept. 1952)

For Spiritual Strength

But the struggle for existence is so keen with most of mankind that the majority find it necessary to live not too freely but too meagerly. This being true, what virtue in fasting is there for them? We answer: the greatest of all benefits–the spiritual strength derived by the subjection of physical appetite to the will of the individual. “He who reigns within himself, and rules passions, desires, and fears, is more than a king.” As in eternal life, so in self-mastery, there is no one great thing which a man may do to obtain it; but there are many little things by observing which self-control may be achieved; and a subjecting of the appetite to the will, [59] and a refusal to satisfy desire are two of these little things. (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 209)

To Help Turn Away Sickness

If we would be sober and watch in fasting and prayer, God would turn away sickness from our midst. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 326)


There is much confusion and misunderstanding in the minds of health-seekers regarding fasting–the oldest and the most effective healing method known to man. (Juice Fasting, Airola, p. 7)

To Escape Pestilences

The speaker, before closing, called upon the assembly before him to humble themselves in faith before God, and in mighty prayer and fasting to call upon the name of the Lord, until the elements were purified over our heads, and the earth sanctified under our feet, that the inhabitants of this city may escape the power of disease and pestilence, and the destroyer that rideth upon the face of the earth, and that the Holy Spirit of God may rest upon this vast multitude. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 200)

There are many other reasons for fasting mentioned in the scriptures and by Church and health leaders. In fact, there are about as many reasons for fasting as there are for praying, since the two principles are closely related:

For good health

To lose excessive weight

To receive revelation

For physical and spiritual assistance

For national defense

[60] In obedience to God’s commandment

In times of sorrow

In times of famine

Etc., etc.

To elaborate a little more on the subject of healing as a reason for fasting, consider the following–

Dr. Otto H. F. Buchinger, Jr., is considered the greatest authority on fasting in the modern world. He, with his father, conducted over 80,000 fasts in their clinic in Germany, and he declared fasting to be the “Royal road to healing.”

Hippocrates, “the Father of Medicine”, prescribed fasting for medical reasons. Plato and Socrates said it would help both the mental and physical efficiency of the body.

The Yogas, known for their long life and mental and physical abilities, often fast.

In Glasgow, Scotland, a woman went on a juice fast for 249 days and completely cleared up a bad case of arthritis.

Sweden has now adopted fasting as one of the essential parts of their health spas and exercise programs.

* * *

The Prophet Isaiah points out some very significant reasons for the fast that were given to him by the Lord:


<Is> not this the fast that I <the Lord> have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6)

[61] In analyzing this scripture, there are five important ideas to emphasize:

  1. “The fast that I have chosen”–is evidence that the Lord wants His people to fast. In some instances He has given fasting as a commandment; therefore, the people who claim to be Saints should continually obey this     law of the Gospel.
  2. “To loose the bands of wickedness”–is to do missionary work by proclaiming the gospel and teaching people to repent of every sin that ties them down. Wickedness and sin are bands that bind heavy burdens on the soul.
  3. “To undo the heavy burdens”–may extend to many different kinds of burdens–helping to feed the widow, caring for the poor, assisting the sick; or it can apply to yourself. If you have excess weight, then a fast     will relieve you of that heavy burden.
  4. “To let the oppressed go free”–is to help others get free of all the worldly yokes that oppress them. If you learn how to get free of such yokes, then you should teach others how they can do it.
  5. “That ye break every yoke”–is to get free of every worldly thing that detracts from God. One must detach himself from the love or lust of all earthly things.

But in spite of the numerous reasons given for fasting, many people still find it difficult to obey this principle; but that is usually because they do not know how to fast. Most of the time learning the ways to proceed with a fast is as important as actually doing it. Baptism wouldn’t have much effect if a person just did it without knowing how or why. Looking at [62] the physical difficulties is not the way to go on a fast. Daniel Wells commented:

It was remarked this morning that some people said they could not fast because it made their head ache. Well, I can fast, and so can any other man; and if it makes my head ache by keeping the commandments of God, let it ache. (Mill. Star, 56:657, Oct. 15, 1894)

A headache can be a signal that your system is undergoing a cleansing. This can be a good sign rather than a bad one. But a person must be determined to do the fast regardless of some of the side effects. Your will must be stronger than your discomfort.

Fasting may temporarily weaken the body a little, but it strengthens the will. Perhaps nothing will prove the strength of a person’s willpower as fasting will. It breaks all the customs, traditions and goes against the natural desire to eat. For some persons, going one day without food would be a tremendous sacrifice. However, it should be noted that everyone has a different kind of body mechanism, and they react to things differently. Some persons are skinny and weak, but another could lose 100 pounds over a long fast. For some people a three-day fast would be as difficult as a 40-day fast for another. Each person must determine the length and type of fast that would be best for him.

James F. Balch, M.D., and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., both qualified doctors in their own fields, have written a valuable book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, wherein they both agree on the importance of fasting. Included below are many of the excellent reasons they give for fasting:

Fasting is an effective and safe method of detoxifying the body. The body needs a periodic rest from the [63] chemicals and toxins that are in the environment. * * *

Fasting is not starvation! It is a technique that wise men have used for centuries to heal the sick. To understand the principles of fasting is to understand one’s own body.

Fasting is recommended for almost any illness because our bodies need rest. * * *

After a period of time, the body builds up toxins from chemicals, pollution, and overindulgences. It is during this low phase that the body is ridding itself of all toxins. This is a “normal detoxification phase.”

During these low or “down” times, you may develop headaches, diarrhea, or depression. Doesn’t it sound reasonable to help the body get rid of the toxins instead of letting the toxins build up?

Fast regularly and help the body heal itself and stay well. Give all of your organs a rest. Fasting can help reverse the aging process, and if we use it correctly, we will live longer, happier lives. Just three days a month will do it. Each time you complete a fast, you will feel better. Your body will have a chance to heal and rebuild its immune system by regular fasting. You can fight off illness and the degenerative diseases so common in this chemically polluted environment we live in. When you feel a cold or any illness coming on, or are just depressed–fast!

A person can extend his life by several years through fasting. You heal faster, give your organs a rest, clean your liver and kidneys, purify your blood, cleanse your colon, lose unnecessary weight, get rid of toxin build-up in tissues, clear the eyes and tongue, cleanse the breath, and lose excess water. Remember, proper diet and supplements, exercise, and fasting will more than double your energy and keep you well and happy.

A three-day fast helps the body get rid of toxins. A five-day fast starts the healing process. A ten-day fast should take care of most problems before they arise–a fast this long is good twice a year. Do NOT fast on water alone! Fasting over three days should be supervised by a qualified health professional. For a longer fast, continue until the tongue is cleared of its [64] coating, the breath is sweet, and you are very hungry. Then come off the fast. Continue to work while on the fast. * * *

Fasting should become a part of your life. Fast at least three days a month.

(Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Balch and Balch, pp. 324-325)

Most of the benefits, both spiritual and temporal, are usually noticed shortly after the fast. The body is clean, it is stimulated by body-building food, and the mind is in a state of clarity. All of the senses are more keen. The body has burned up everything that it could to continue its own preservation.

Fasting is a good method of giving the body a chance to throw out accumulated chemicals. It not only preserves good health, but is a means of curing it when it becomes infected with disease and toxins. Many of the common ruptures, skin diseases, abnormal growths, weak hearts, adhesions, weak nerves and ruined digestive systems can be helped or cured by the use of herbs, good food and fasting.

One might think of an airplane that was running out of fuel. In a war movie when the plane ran very low on fuel, the crew threw out all excessive baggage in order to lighten the load. Since most Americans are overweight, much of their excess should be eliminated.

Perhaps you have seen movies where a steam engine train ran low on fuel, and the bad guys on horses were catching up so they could rob it; the crew started burning all the extra chairs, furniture, books, etc., to speed up the engine and protect the train from intruders.

The body, too, can be lightened of its garbage and excess baggage by fasting. It also will burn up the unnecessary [65] elements when regular fuel is not obtainable. The body will burn up tumors, cancers, fat, etc., until it has burned out all the excessive baggage before it reaches the essential organs.

Many other reasons have also been given for fasting, such as developing a greater appreciation for food, detachment from the world, setting a good example, understanding poor people who suffer famine, controlling passions and appetites, preparation for eating proper foods, resting the body organs, increasing humility, rebuilding the body with good food, and safeguarding against cancer and disease.

It is important to remember that one’s positive frame of mind and the exercising of faith in achieving the desired results are extremely important in accomplishing one’s goals in fasting. Joseph F. Smith used the expression, “fasting with singleness of heart”:

Boys and young men are not fasting with singleness of heart that their joy may be full when they spend the Sabbath day loafing around the village ice cream stand or restaurant, playing games, or in buggy riding, fishing, shooting, or engaged in physical sports, excursions and outings. Such is not the course that will keep them unspotted from the world, but rather one that will deprive them of the rich promises of the Lord, giving them sorrow instead of joy, and unrest and anxiety instead of the peace that comes with works of righteousness. (Gospel Doctrine, p. 246)

For whatever reason a person goes on a fast, there will be some benefit therefrom. It can be a religious observance for increased spirituality, a simple rest from eating, or a program for better health. In any case it will be an advantage to him–morally, physically, and spiritually.


[66]                              Chapter 5


And now surely this was a sorrowful day; yea, a time of solemnity, and a time of much fasting and prayer. (Alma 28:6)

Both feast and famine have probably been experienced at some time, however briefly, in the life of most Americans; but the intenseness of the feelings of pain or pleasure are soon forgotten. Brigham Young said,

Let crickets, or grasshoppers, or frosts, or anything else come and destroy our crops, and we feel it then; but just as soon as prosperity comes, we forget what has happened. (JD 12:242)

It would certainly be to our advantage to reflect on those times of extreme difficulties, determine the causes, and learn from our experiences.

The causes for widespread famines are numerous and are usually brought about through the hand of God–floods, lack of rain, insects, disease, wars, lack of transportation, etc. God uses them as reminders to mankind that He is still God, as explained by two Book of Mormon prophets:

And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he [67] doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him. (Helaman 12:3)

As they were unfaithful they did not prosper nor progress in their journey, but were driven back, and incurred the displeasure of God upon them; and therefore, they were smitten with famine and sore afflictions, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty. (Mosiah 1:17)

Wouldn’t it be better to endure a little self-sacrifice, fasting and remembering our duties to God, rather than suffer the consequences of famine, afflictions and death? Many times the people suffered a famine until they turned from their wickedness and then the Lord turned away these pestilences.

And it came to pass that when they had humbled themselves sufficiently before the Lord, he did send rain upon the face of the earth; and the people began to revive again, and there began to be fruit in the north countries, and in all the countries round about. And the Lord did show forth his power unto them in preserving them from famine. (Ether 9:35)

And again:

Now their dead were not numbered because of the greatness of their numbers; neither were the dead of the Nephites numbered–but it came to pass after they had buried their dead, and also after the days of fasting, and mourning, and prayer, . . . there began to be continual peace throughout all the land. (Alma 30:2)

Fasting and starving are not the same. If the body is in good condition, a prolonged fast will serve as a body conditioner, a purifier, and an aid to the system rather than a detriment. Even short fasts do a remarkable job of setting the body in proper order.

[68] During the times when people are dying from starvation, the condition of the mind does more damage to the system than the actual lack of food. Both the psychological and physiological conditions are very important to proper fasting. Starvation conditions have caused many people to starve to death while they would have survived if they had considered it a fast and had maintained a proper mental attitude.

From the records of history it appears famine often comes upon a people because they have not been grateful for the bounties they once had. During a famine they have reason to call upon God, but in the days of their wealth and abundance, they seldom turn to Him. When people fast and offer it as a sacrifice to the Lord, He seems to remember them and bless them with happiness and a fulfillment of their needs.

One of the first things that should come to mind when a person goes without food, is to realize what it is like for so many people in the world who are forced to go without food. Over half the world’s population go to bed every night without a full stomach.

This author was acquainted with John Noble who spent 9-1/2 years in Soviet prison camps. His story was printed in a book called I Was a Slave in Soviet Russia. One particular part has remained in my memory–an experience showing how he and his fellow prisoners learned a real appreciation of food:

It was several days before I realized the most important fact of prison life. This paramount concern, riding the days and nights like a monkey perched on the head, is food, the belly-craving that fills one like a cancer and crowds out everything else.

On the first morning, it was the scenes and sounds of violence that preoccupied. Screams could be heard almost constantly from the questioning room. I [69] learned, though, that the mind can erect barriers against such sounds, so that unless one tries one cannot hear them. Prisoners who couldn’t shut them out didn’t last long. They went mad. I was told that one of the many prisoners who attempted suicide tried to kill himself in his madness by crashing his head against the wall of his cell.

When food was first brought in to me, I still hadn’t learned about the domination of the stomach when men are made to live like animals. The meal was a bowl of coffee-colored soup with a fishy taste. I threw it out without a second thought.

The day went easily and without incident. The cell was swarming with bugs, and I occupied myself by catching them and flipping them into the toilet bowl. At noon and in the evening, watery, fishy soup was again distributed, and again I poured it out. I told myself I didn’t need it.

Within a very few days I realized how mistaken I was. Inexplicably, the food stopped coming. It didn’t stop just for me; it stopped throughout the prison. There was no food for anyone. There was no explanation from the guards. “There will be food tomorrow,” they said. There wasn’t. Warm water with a coffee taste was passed out instead. Later in the day, the guards brought twenty-quart buckets from which they served, as solemnly as if it were food, plain warm water, yellowish and without taste.

Slowly, the stomach took over body and mind. There was no food the next morning, only more of the warm water. I had never really been hungry before. During our entire internment in Germany we had had the same food as everyone else in Dresden. Even the worst air raids had not deprived us altogether. The Germans never had cracked down on rations.

But now I began to know about hunger, and it was frightening. It was not just an emptiness; it was a positive, driving force, urgent and constantly on the mind–like the urgency of a schoolboy’s body as he dreams his first pulsing dreams of pleasures of life.

I had to face the situation. I was alone in my cell, with no one to talk to, no one to turn to for help, except [70] God, perhaps. Would He hear a prayer from me? Would He persuade those creatures in the prison corridors to open the door and bring me food, or even freedom? I spoke my prayers, asking God in heaven to comfort my body and soul.

I am sure many others in those prison walls were asking divine help, too. And many outside the walls, for even the “free” people of Germany had had to pull in their belts a notch or two. Food was scarce. Everywhere, the Soviet troops had been trampling down stock rooms, looting. The stock room in Munchener-platz Prison had been full when the Russians arrived, but they had nearly emptied it, so that they might trade food for vodka or schnapps. Other food reserves had been carried away by the soldiers to feed the women they were using day and night. I found out later that, at the time we were starving in our cells, the guard and officers in my house were forcing my mother to cook our food for the girls whom the Russians brought into the house.

Three days passed and no food was distributed to us. At last, on the fourth day–which was July 31, 1945–a few ounces of bread and some thin soup were handed to me; on the fifth day, more of the same, but as I lay down that evening I had no idea that on the following morning would begin a twelve-day starvation period.

When it became apparent on the first of those days that there was to be no food, loud protests, uncontrolled curses and screaming were let loose. They became louder as the second, third, and fourth days went by. Men went out of their minds, women prisoners became hysterical. Some Moslem prisoners chanted their prayers.

Then death struck, right and left. Cell doors were opened and dead bodies pulled out by an arm or a leg. I wondered when it would be my fatherÕs turn and mine. When I no longer was strong enough to lift my feet off the floor, I put myself into the hands of God.

Some seven hundred prisoners had entered that starvation period. I was one of twenty-two or twenty-three that survived, along with my father.

[71] Each day, as the guards brought the warm water around, they roused the prisoners with a cry of “breakfast” or “coffee”. If the cry was “breakfast,” there would be a tense silence as the prisoners waited to see if food was meant, or more water. And during those twelve days it was always the water.

On the thirteenth day my cell door opened and a guard, as indifferent as if he had been supervising a delivery of water, stepped into the cell. From a large container he took a tiny mound of bread crumbs wrapped in a piece of crumpled paper. The crumbs weighed two ounces.

I stared at the crumbs for twenty minutes, then ate them one at a time. They did little for the aching emptiness, but their dry, tasteless texture started the saliva flowing, and each crumb was an almost unbearable pleasure. (I Was a Slave in Soviet Russia, Noble, pp. 18-21)

John said he stared at those pieces of crumbs and thought no one ever partook of the sacrament with more depth of gratitude.

This deep appreciation for food is not understood by many Americans who walk through supermarkets filled with every conceivable kind of food. But those who go to prison soon learn a tremendous appreciation for both good food and freedom. John Noble continued his story by adding:

The things that gave prisoners a sense of security were things I came to know well also. There was, for instance, the infinite, patient attention paid to the division of food. This was particularly painstaking and meaningful in the cells occupied by prisoners who helped with the serving of food from cell to cell, as I did many times.

During the serving of, say, barley broth, the prisoner-server would have little trouble in saving a cupful or so at the bottom of the bucket. This he could bring back to his cell, where, with as much care as a [72] diamond merchant uses in sorting gems, the men would separate the grains of barley. Equal numbers of grains went to each cell mate. If a single grain remained at the end of the count, the server might claim it. (Ibid., p. 25)

Most Americans fail to appreciate the abundance of good things they are blessed with, nor are they really thankful for them. They forget there are so many starving and poor people in other nations of the world. When famine, war and disasters come to America, then they will better understand what great blessings these are.

Living in a land of plenty, we suppose that we must also eat plenty. The Europeans have a comment about Americans–that they are overfed, overpaid and oversexed. The first of these vices is considered here, which is a subject that could easily fill many books.

We have been taught since little children that we should have three well-balanced meals every day–whatever that means. We presume that the more complete and full each meal is, the better our health will be. However, the principle is more like taking care of the motor of your car–it is better not to lug it with all it can take, but rather let it carry a lighter load which is much easier to handle.

Fasting is not something that happens in China, India or Ethiopia where the people are forced to go without food because of lack of rain. Fasting is a correct principle–a principle as necessary to the body as eating. Both modern science and the Bible have stated that the body should rest about every seven days. The stomach should also have a little rest. However, when people miss a few meals, they think they are doing damage to their system and that some unhealthy condition has arisen.

[73] One of the great catastrophes in the Bible was the pestilence that came during the time of the Prophet Joel. There was a constant burning from the sun, no rain and little water. Even the animals slowly moved with their heads down as if to mourn. Then to add to the calamity, there was a hord of locusts, like an invisible army that devoured all vegetation in their path. To Joel this meant a separation between God and man, and he declared that it was the result of the people’s sins. It was considered a terror of the day of Jehovah and the end of their world.

The Prophet Joel cried out for mercy and appealed to the people, even the drunkards, to repent and petition the heavens. Destruction and calamity seemed imminent.

The famine was a terrible one, the kind that has been repeated in many nations. Often they begin with a catastrophe such as a plague of insects. To great masses they actually darken the sky like a huge black cloud, advancing like a mighty army and destroying everything in their path. Like the crackling of a prairie fire, no garden, grain field or tree survives their onslaught. Even towns and cities offered no protection, and people evacuated them to seek shelter somewhere else. These were times that people sought help from God. In the days of famine they would fast.

This was a time that tried the mettle of menÕs souls. It brought people to repentance–true repentance to see if they would sincerely turn to Jehovah to restore His favors on them. Repentance was no longer an outward expression or a simple statement; it bore into the hardest heart. In the day of plenty, they should have sacrificed to God, but in the day of their calamity, they would.

[74] The Prophet Joel reminded the people to observe a fast and to hold their solemn services for God, and then He would perhaps remember them and return the bounties of the earth to them. They did and God heard and answered their prayers. The rains came and the famine ended.

Will America have to experience such famine in order to learn the same lessons?


[75]                              Chapter 6


Fasting as such is not to be condemned. In its place, and within the bounds set by Him who incorporated it as part of his eternal system, it is to be commended. Mortals can never attain the unity with Deity that it is their privilege to gain without fasting and prayer. (Bruce R. McConkie, Mortal Messiah, 2:59)

Fasting is a science, and must be treated as such. To bake a good loaf of bread requires strict compliance to the recipe (or rules) as to the kind of ingredients, specific amounts, proper handling, cooking time and temperature. Certainly the body is more worthy of exacting care than a loaf of bread, and it too should be carefully handled according to specific guidelines.

Since fasting is of such importance, it should be studied and practiced the same as other saving principles of the Gospel. Merely going without food is not the proper method of fasting. This principle must be prepared for, carefully followed through, and then completed correctly. Even though spiritual blessings can result from fasting, proper physical preparation and execution are very important. Therefore, this chapter will include some guidelines or rules that should be followed in fasting successfully. To begin with, we should–


  1. Understand the purposes and benefits of fasting.
  2. Learn from those who have fasted.
  3. Read and study books on fasting.
  4. Visit health food stores.
  5. Establish the best time for a fast.
  6. Use your willpower to follow through with it.

A more specific set of rules was published by the eminent Dr. Ehret:

  1. Clean the lower intestines as well as you can with enemas, at least every other day.
  2. Before starting a longer fast, take a laxative occasionally, and by all means the day before you start the fast.
  3. If possible, remain in the fresh air, day and night.
  4. Take a walk, exercise, or some other physical work only when you feel strong enough to do it; if tired and weak, rest and sleep as much as you can.
  5. On days that you feel weak, and you will experience such days when the waste is in the circulation, you will find that your sleep is restless and disturbed, and you may experience bad dreams. This is caused through the     poisons passing through the brain.
  6. Don’t forget that you are, parenthetically speaking, lying on Nature’s operating table; the most wonderful of all operations that could be performed; and without the use of a knife! If any extraordinary sensation     occurs due to the drugs that are now in the circulation, take an enema at     once, lie down, and if necessary, break the fast, but not with fruits     <since fruits help in the elimination of poisons>.
  7. Whenever you arise after lying down, do it slowly; otherwise you may become dizzy. (Mucusless Diet, Ehret, p. 154)

[77] Mahatma Gandhi went on well-regulated fasts and recorded some of his daily experiences and feelings. On the fourth day of a fast he developed a violent headache, and so he stopped all working. The fifth day he felt better and partially recuperated with less exhaustion. On the sixth day he felt much better and on the seventh he was writing with a steady hand. He then took a little orange juice and grape juice every two hours adding about ten grapes. By the twelfth day he had not taken any solid food and he was convinced that he had lost nothing physically to his body with the fast. He also believed that during a fast a person should always take water. Here are Ghandi’s suggested rules:

From a layman’s and from a purely physical standpoint, I should lay down the following rules for all those who may wish to fast on any account whatsoever:

  1. Conserve your energy both physical and mental from the very beginning.
  2. You must cease to think of food whilst you are fasting.
  3. Drink as much cold water as you can, with or without soda and salt, but in small quantities at a time. Do not be afraid of salt and soda, because most waters contain both these salts in a free state.
  4. Have a warm sponge <bath> daily.
  5. Take an enema regularly during fast. You will be surprised at the impurities you will expel daily.
  6. Sleep as much as possible in the open air.
  7. Bathe in the morning sun. A sun and air bath is at least as great a purifier as a water bath.
  8. Think of anything else but the fast.
  9. No matter from what motive you are fasting, during this precious time, think of your Maker, and of your relation to Him and His other creations, and you will make discoveries you may not have dreamed of.

(Ethics of Fasting, M. Gandhi, p. 31)

[78] Wisdom and prudence should guide everyone in his fast. Not all rules will apply to all persons, simply because everyone has a different type of body. For this reason each person must study and decide the kind of fast that is best for him. No fast should be a miserable experience. Joseph F. Smith once remarked:

The Lord has instituted the fast on a reasonable and intelligent basis, and none of his works are vain and unwise. His law is perfect in this as in other things. Hence, those who can are required to comply thereto; it is a duty from which they cannot escape; but let it be remembered that the observance of the fast day, abstaining twenty-four hours from food and drink, is not an absolute rule; it is no iron-clad law to us, but is left with the people as a matter of conscience, to exercise wisdom and discretion. Many are subject to weakness, others are in delicate health, and others have nursing babies; of such it should not be required to fast. I have known children to cry for something to eat on fast day. In such cases, going without food will do them no good. Instead, they dread the day to come, and in place of hailing it, dislike it; while the compulsion engenders a spirit of rebellion in them, rather than a love for the Lord and their fellows. Better teach them the principle, and let them observe it when they are old enough to choose intelligently, than to so compel them. (Gospel Doctrine, p. 244)

Before a Fast

Since the alimentary canal is the main avenue of excretion, the bowels must be given serious attention. The enema is the primary method of clearing it–with or without laxatives. Johanna Brandt suggests:

To prepare the system for the change of diet, the better practice is to fast for two or three days, drinking plenty of pure, cold water and taking an enema of a [79] quart of lukewarm water daily with the strained juice of one lemon therein.

By this short fast, complications may be avoided. The stomach is cleared of poisons and fermenting accumulations . . . . (The Grape Fast, Brandt, p. 42)

After a Fast

There are also a few rules to follow after a fast:

  1. The best laxative foods after a fast are fresh sweet fruit, such as cherries, prunes and grapes.
  2. Stewed spinach can be eaten with good results or other starchless vegetables, either raw or cooked. 3.Eat only small quantities of food for a few days after a fast to avoid complications, because it is still necessary     to continue clearing the bowels.

There is a tendency to overeat right after a fast. This comes from our custom of overeating at every meal. A person must learn to back away from a meal while there is still a tendency to continue eating. Have you ever noticed that your stomach seems to continue to get fuller even after you have discontinued eating? Sometimes a restaurant may serve a salad before the main course, and a few minutes after eating the salad, you may have noticed that your hunger has disappeared and you really don’t feel inclined to continue with a big meal. We should learn to stop eating before we feel stuffed.

When a person has been without food for awhile, it always tastes better than it ever did before, just as a glass of water to a dying man on the desert will never be equalled by any other glass of water. The body, too, has an appreciation for good food after a fast. For this reason it is only reasonable to give the body the very best food following a fast.

* * *

[80] It is obvious that all of the nutritionists and doctors have variations in their rules for eating, dieting and fasting. So each person must become familiar with his own body’s system and its needs and then determine and obey his own set of rules for good health. Some of the general rules of health, however, that are adopted by most of the health programs usually include the following:

  1. Eat fruits for breakfast.
  2. Drink plenty of water each day.
  3. Drink some fruit or vegetable juice daily.
  4. Eat a raw vegetable salad each day.
  5. Do not mix proteins and carbohydrates together.
  6. Eat fish or chicken instead of beef and pork.
  7. Exercise moderately every day.
  8. Cook with glassware, stainless steel or enameled cookware, instead of aluminum.
  9. Limit the use of chocolate, white flour, sugar and milk.

10.Fast at least one to three days each month.

In preparation for someone’s first serious fast, he should consider only a short fast, and experiment on the water intake, the juice or food intake, and then discover the body’s ability to handle them. As short fasts are accomplished, then longer ones become easier. Breaking the fast is very important and caution should be taken on kinds and quantities of food to be eaten, no matter how long the fast is.


[81]                              Chapter 7


The juice of fresh fruits and vegetables is the richest available food source of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. (Juicing for Life, Clabom/Keane, p. 3)

Anyone who desires to begin a fast should understand the reasons, the time, place and need for juices in connection with that fast. A fast may begin without food, water or juice, with certain benefits; but as a fast continues, it is much improved by the addition of certain fruit juices. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Certain juices act as solvents and cleansers for the whole system, which is one of the main objectives of a fast. They speed up the benefits of fasting without the additional tortures of going without food or water.
  2. Actually fruit juices are so quickly ingested into the system that the stomach still remains in a state of rest.
  3. The effect of different juices can be directly used for a specific function and purpose. Each juice has certain properties that can be assigned to correct particular problems.


  1. When a person is fasting with the help of fruit juices, he can obtain the objectives of a fast without the loss of strength or fatigue that usually accompany a fast. Sometimes fasting without water or juice can actually be     damaging to the body, which is opposite of the intended purpose.
  2. Simply stated, a fast is not as complete without using certain juices sometime during that fast.

Jay Kordich, known as the Juiceman, has written  a couple of books on how drinking juices can improve your health, give you  more energy, and make you look and feel better. In Chapter 7 of his book,  The Juiceman’s Power of Juicing, he lists more than 40 common ailments that can be helped, cured or avoided by drinking fresh juice.

Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are an excellent way to lose weight, without suffering from hunger pangs. They are low in calories and practically fat-free. There are a flood of artificial products to eat or drink which are advertised for losing weight, but juices are cheaper and much healthier.

Almost everyone who has ever tasted fresh fruit juice is amazed at how flavorful it is. There are numerous combinations of vegetables or fruits that make excellent tasting juice. Kordich says that when he was selling juicing machines that–

. . . regardless of whether I made a sale or not, I was repeatedly gratified and excited by the response to that first sip of carrot juice or fresh pineapple juice. To this day, the look on someone’s face as he experiences the deliciousness of juice still awes and inspires me. (The Juiceman’s Power of Juicing, p. 17)

[83] Most of the people of the world get up in the morning and flush their stomach with a hot cup of coffee. It has been said, even by the medical profession, that if you deliberately tried to harm your stomach, that would be one of the best ways to do it. In the first place, there is nothing in coffee that resembles food. There is absolutely no medical or nutritional reason for removing coffee beans from their mountain home in Columbia.

Another popular mid-morning and mid-afternoon drink is soda pop. For nutritional value it ranks about the same as coffee, and it usually costs more than a glass of fresh fruit juice. Besides being addictive, it has sent armies of people to the hospital.

After daily sloshing our systems with the poisons of coffee and pop, people spend the evenings and weekends drinking a few six packs of cold beer. Our poor stomachs! They are built for healthy food and drink–not as receptacles for garbage.

The first thing to put in our stomachs in the morning should be fruit juice. That should “break the fast” and serve as the “most important meal of the day.” Juice requires little effort by the stomach to digest, and its powers are put to immediate use in the body. Harvey and Marilyn Diamond explain:

Fruit does not digest in the stomach! Not even minimally. Fruits are predigested. All fruits (with the exception of bananas, dates, and dried fruit, which stay in the stomach a bit longer) are in the stomach only a very short time. They pass through the stomach in twenty to thirty minutes, as if they were going through a tunnel. They break down and release their super-charged, life-giving nutrients in the intestines. (Fit for Life, p. 65)

[84] After a juice breakfast, no other food is really necessary until lunch. But if other food is eaten, it is important that fruit is eaten first because of the manner in which the stomach’s digestive system operates. The Diamonds continue:

Fruit should never be eaten with or immediately following anything. It is essential that when you eat fruit, it is eaten on an empty stomach. This is unquestionably the most important aspect of fit for life. If you eat fruit correctly, because it has so much water and demands so little energy to digest, it will play a major role in enabling your body to detoxify your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities. Fruit is the most important food you can eat. But if fruit is eaten on top of other foods, many problems result.

Say you eat a sandwich, and then you eat a piece of fruit–for example a piece of melon. The piece of melon is ready to go straight through the stomach into the intestines, but it is prevented from doing so. In the interim the whole meal rots and ferments and turns to acid. (Ibid., p. 65)

Everyone has his own particular preference of fruit and fruit juice, and all of them have valuable benefits to contribute to the body. The most recognized and beneficial fruit juice, however, is grape juice, as Johanna Brandt explains:

The grape is exceptionally rich in iron and is the finest natural tonic in the world. It also has some vital relation to the protein base of the protoplasm of the cell and is on that account considered a quick repairer of tissue waste. As a flesh and muscle forming element it has no rival.

The grape is the perfect food, a most complete food. Quite apart from its value as a solvent, it stands alone among the foods of nature as a builder. (The Grape Cure, p. 108)

[85] There are several reasons why drinking the juice of fruits and vegetables is better than just eating them raw:

  1. Ease of digestion
  2. Quick energy and use to the system
  3. More nutrition comes from the juice than from eating the raw fruit.
  4. Easier to ingest (drink)
  5. You can drink a higher concentration of food value than you can eat.

Juicing also has the added benefit of getting the nutrients which are close to the skins of fruit and vegetables. Oftentimes these valuable nutrients are lost with peeling. To throw away the peelings of some food is to lose most of the valuable body builders.

It should also be remembered that most of the food value is lost when it is processed, canned or cooked. For the most benefit, juices should be swallowed as soon as they are made.

Fresh juices contain enzymes that aid the digestion and give strength and energy to the body–important factors when fasting. Frozen juices provide most of the nutrients but have lost these enzymes; so fresh fruit and juices are better than frozen or canned.

Johanna Brandt offers the following suggestions for someone planning a fast:

The best time is when the grape season is at its height.

Quantity varies according to the condition, digestion and occupation of the patient. It is well to begin with a small quantity of one, two or three ounces per meal, gradually increasing this to double the [86] quantity. In time about a half pound may safely be taken at a meal. To make this point quite clear, a minimum quantity of one pound should be used daily, while the maximum should not exceed four pounds. Patients taking larger quantities at a meal should allow at least three hours for digestion and should not take all the skins. Invariably, the best results have been effected when grapes have been taken in small quantities. (The Grape Cure, p. 44)

A fast can be limited to just grapes and grape juice, or it can include other fruit. Brandt continues:

Grapes still form the main food and are always taken as the first meal in the morning and at 8 p.m. But now, during the day, some other fresh fruit may be used instead of grapes. An endless variety presents itself–a slice of melon, an orange, a grapefruit, an apple, a luscious pear, the scarlet strawberry, the golden apricot–one fruit more appetizing than the other.

Let the patient choose. Only one kind of fruit to be taken at a meal but something different every day. (Ibid., p. 49)

You should think of your body as you would your home or a temple. Periodically it needs housecleaning. Just as you would remove the garbage and discard worn-out articles, so it is with the body. Many accumulations build up in the body and the best way to “clean house” is through a juice fast. Just as you feel better after a good house cleaning, so you will feel refreshed after a good body cleansing.


[87]                              Chapter 8


A mini-fast of say twenty minutes or so between meals is not fasting. (Hugh Nibley, Collected Works 9:392)

Through fasting, even short fasts, you will find that your health will be better, your willpower grows, and you will have a greater appreciation for food–good food.

Setting up a program for the fast is the first step. If a person has never done much fasting, then the first fast should be a short one; a long fast could be disastrous. Start with fasting for one or two meals, or one or two days, and follow the rules and carefully note the results. These short fasts can be with or without water, with or without fruit juices, and even with or without some types of food. But good results should always follow.

The Importance of Water

A short fast can be accomplished without water, depending on the purpose of the fast. But remember that while abstaining from food is usually good for the body, going without water is like driving a car without oil. The body, like the car, will burn out in a short time.

[88] There are more life supporting elements in water than in some of the foods we eat. President Brigham Young mentioned this several times:

It is difficult to find anything more healthy to drink than good cold water, such as flows down to us from springs and snows of our mountains. This is the beverage we should drink. It should be our drink at all times. (JD 12:122)

It is a strange thought, but could you weigh the particles of life that you constantly receive from the water you drink and from the air you breathe, you would learn that you receive a greater proportion of nourishment from those sources than from the food you consume. (JD 4:92)

You remember reading, in the last book of the New Testament, that in the beginning God cursed the earth; but did he curse all things pertaining to it? No, he did not curse the water, but he blessed it. Pure water is cleansing–it serves to purify; and you are aware that the ancient Saints were very tenacious with regard to their purification by water. From the beginning the Lord instituted water for that purpose among others. I do not mean from the beginning of this earth alone; and although we have no immediate concern in inquiring into the organization of other earths that do not come within reach of our investigation, yet I will say that water has been the means of purification in every world that has been organized out of the immensity of matter. (JD 7:162)

Even the scientific researches on fasting are not conducted without some water. Gandhi, the master of fasting, never went on a fast without water. The body is surrounded with water before it is born, it is composed mostly of water, and it requires water to survive and function properly.

[89] Most of our society today cannot pass a grocery store without loading up on six-packs of beer or soda pop. We have become addicted to advertising and pay dearly for these liquids that damage our system. We tend to neglect the free flow of water which is one of the most precious gifts of nature. Dr. Hugh Nibley describes man’s constant search for gold, but says that water is more precious. People have lived for centuries without gold, but none can live very many days without water.

Water is a lubricating element, it is a carrier for oxygen and food, and it works as a thermostat element. Without water the system dries up–equivalent to decay and death. Without it, the system goes into chaos and fails to function properly. The limitations on work and activities are based more on the lack of water than the lack of food.

Remember that a fast is supposed to be conducted for a good purpose–as an accomplishment rather than as a detriment to the body and spirit. At the end of the fast you should look back with pride and joy in how you accomplished your purpose. What good is a harsh starvation and deterioration of the body?

Overnight Fasts

We may be more acquainted with short fasts than we realize; ending a short fast may be merely eating in the morning.

There are words in our vocabulary that we use daily without thinking of their meaning. For instance, we mention “breakfast” nearly every day but seldom realize that it is actually a breakfast–the breaking of an overnight fast.

[90] It was rather humorous to read how King Darius reacted when he was forced to throw the Prophet Daniel into the lions’ den. He decided to fast and it reads:

Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him. (Dan. 6:18)

But even such short fasts may be difficult for some people–as Spencer W. Kimball remarked:

On a full stomach it’s easy to talk about fasting. The test comes, of course, when a grumbling stomach demands food. (Tchgs. of S.W. Kimball, p. 145)

One of the worst eating habits we suffer from is the “big breakfast”. We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that’s true; but generally we abuse it and it has become the most injurious. A common breakfast consists of a large plate of eggs, ham or sausage, fried potatoes and coffee; but in that case it is better not to eat at all. A much better breakfast would consist of mostly fruits and liquids with very little solid food until afternoon.

Fruit juices, such as grapefruit, orange, or tomato–begin the cycle of digestive juices and alert the stomach that it must get active again, because overnight the stomach and digestive tracts retreat into a rest mode until they are activated by certain juices or food.

Some juices may be too strong and should be diluted with water–and even taken in small amounts every two hours during the day. Some solid food can act as a shock to the system and cause damage and possible pain and discomfort. Thorough chewing is essential when solid food is taken.


Scientific Fasting

Fasting is not a procedure that is conducive to guess-work and experimentation. Results of scientific monitoring and evaluating have afforded us some vital information.

Scientists claim that the order in which the body diminishes during a fast is as follows: (1) the poisonous toxins which are blocking the proper functioning of the body and mind are eliminated: (2) the fats of the body are used up; (This is accomplished by the shift in metabolism . . .); (3) the muscle and other tissue of the body are consumed to supply energy (The heart loses weight like the body, but only about 85% as much); and (4) the central processes (the brain and nervous system) seem to remain intact to the end in most cases. (Fasting, Second Step to Eter. Life, Johnson, p. 93)

This information should be seriously considered in determining the degree and length of any fasts.


Grape Juice Fasts

Two books on fasting have greatly changed this author’s outlook toward food and fasting. Both have been quoted in earlier chapters and have the same title: The Grape Cure–one by Johanna Brandt, the other by Basil Shackleton.

Ms. Brandt was born in 1876 in Africa, a land in which she says the people “were heavy meat eaters and practically lived on game. I do not know whether this had anything to do with the fact that cancer is the greatest scourge of our country, but I think so.” (p. 11) Her mother and many relatives died of cancer. In 1921 she herself developed a growing mass near her stomach, and it grew until it reached toward the heart and attached itself to the left lung. She finally suffered excruciating pain and threw up blood.

[92] At this point Johanna decided to go on a series of fasts until she was extremely thin. One fast lasted three weeks with nothing but water. In her experimenting to find a cure, she finally found a food that would “destroy the growth effectively, eliminate the poison, and build new tissue.” (p. 21) This food was the grape! She learned that an extremely long fast was not as valuable as a shorter fast containing proper nutrients that acted like a medicine and yet was a food. She started a series of grape fasts and was ultimately cured.

Because of her success, she began a series of lectures–even challenging the medical profession, but she had no takers. One noted doctor came to her home, however, and encouraged her to continue this work. She wrote:

The many heart-breaking appeals for relief could not be ignored. As the laws of the land did not forbid me to tell the story of how I had cured myself, I simply related my experiences and described the procedure I had adopted. People treated by my methods recovered. (Ibid., p. 27)

Practice Makes Perfect

Everyone can learn to fast at least for a short time. It should be a principle taught to everyone, including children, as David O. McKay stated:

Do not think that there is not a spiritual significance in the little principle of fasting. Do not think, parents, that you are favoring your child when, out of compassion, you say, “Oh, give him his breakfast; oh, let us have breakfast; let us have dinner; I have a headache; the little boy is too young to go without his meal,” and so on. You do not know what you are doing by such teaching as that. I want to tell you that the children of our Church can be so taught this principle of self-denial that they will set worthy examples to their [93] parents in the observance of it. Your deacons particularly there is a magnificent opportunity for teaching them one way of honoring the Priesthood. (Gospel Ideals, McKay, p. 213)

Short fasts of from one to three days are refreshers for the body, giving them rest and a chance to have a break from the constant burning of fuel. The body should physically rest from its work every seven days; so, too, the stomach should have short breaks and rests from its constant work.

Everyone should practice short fasts–omitting one or two meals is very beneficial, and is a good preparation for longer fasts. Practice makes perfect!


[94]                              Chapter 9


My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness. (Psalms 109:24)


Fasting for three days is considered a long fast for most people. My first three-day fast was one of the worst tortures I ever endured. The reasons later became obvious: my body was not used to such treatment, it had insufficient means to cope with it, and I knew almost nothing about what I was doing. Added to that, my system was bogged down with junk food. Generally speaking, the poorer the condition of the body, the worse will be the reaction to a fast.

As a person practices missing a meal or two, and extends it for a day or two, his body begins to develop the means for handling this new situation. Using proper procedures, the length of a fast can be extended for longer and longer periods without any physical loss of strength or serious misery calls from the stomach.

People going on an extended fast for the first time may think they are going to die from lack of food, but–

It is a well-known fact with scientists and physiologists that a person can go from 90 to 115 days [95] without any food and live, and that he can go without water 12 days and live. (The Grape Cure, Brandt, p. 46)

But, of course, these are the outside limits which are unnecessary to even approach in the principle of fasting.

The first preparation for a fast should be mental. Preparing the mind is just as important as the fast itself. Attitude makes a difference in almost anything we do, and it is no different with a fast, as Gandhi explained:

With some, fasting is of no avail, because assuming that mechanical fasting alone will make them immune, they keep their bodies without food, but feast their minds upon all sorts of delicacies, thinking all the while what they will eat and what they will drink after the fast terminates. Such fasting helps them in controlling neither palate nor lust. Fasting is useful when mind co-operates with starving body, that is to say, when it cultivates a distaste for the objects that are denied to the body. (Gandhi, p. 210)

During a long fast from food and juice, the body makes some drastic changes and also experiences certain negative reactions:

  1. A loss of strength
  2. Muscle pain
  3. Reduced body activity
  4. Slower mental processes
  5. Loss of concentration
  6. Lowering of desires
  7. Irritable, restless, and maybe sullen

However, on the other side, there is an increase in the senses of hearing and smelling. Vision is not impaired nor does the brain deteriorate. But it is very important to consider [96] both positive and negative side effects before deciding to go on a long fast.

It is generally acknowledged that the first day or two is the worst part of any fast; and, it is at this point that people often weaken and refuse to fast any longer–thinking that the longer they fast, the worse it will become. But fasting actually gets much easier as it continues, if done properly; and certainly subsequent fasts become easier. Each time a person fasts, the better prepared he is to extend the next fast for a longer period of time.

I learned that the cleaner you are, the easier it is to fast, and the longer you can stand it. In other words, in a body free from all waste and poisons, and when no solid foods are taken, the human body functions for the first time in its life without obstructions. (Mucusless Diet, Ehret, p. 160)

This was learned from my own personal experience. A month after completing my 40-day fast, I decided to go on another fast for three days; however, it was so easy, that after a few days I couldn’t even remember if it was the third or fourth day. A month later, during a one-week fast, the temptation to sit down to a meal never arose until the evening of the sixth day.

In considering a long fast, it should be remembered that, according to Johanna Brandt, no fast should ever be extended past 60 days–the main reason being that nothing beneficial can result after that time.

Forty-day Fasts

Since the scriptures say that both Moses, Elijah, and Christ fasted for 40 days, the question arises, “Is there some [97] special significance to the number 40?” It is interesting to summarize the notable dates and events that have occurred with the number 40. It has played a conspicuous role in the history of Israel:

  1. It rained 40 days and 40 nights during the flood. (Gen. 7:4)
  2. When Jacob died, his son Joseph had him embalmed, and “forty days were fulfilled for him” (Gen. 50:3)
  3. Moses fasted 40 days to get the higher law for Israel. (Deut. 9:11; Ex. 34:28)
  4. Moses fasted 40 days to get the lesser law. (Deut. 10:10)
  5. Israel’s scouting party spent 40 days searching for new land. (Num. 13:25)
  6. Israel sinned and would bear the burden for 40 years. (Num. 14:34)
  7. Gideon enjoyed peace in the land for 40 years. (Judges 8:28)
  8. The Philistine Goliath presented himself 40 days to the Israelites. (I Sam. 17:16)
  9. David reigned over Israel 40 years. (I Kings 2:11)

10.Elijah spent 40 days fasting. (I Kings 19:9)

11.Elijah lay on his side 40 days for the house of Judah. (Ezek. 4:6)

12.Jonah cried to Nineveh that it would be destroyed in 40 days. (Jonah 3:4)

13.Jewish worship included “about 40 the number of formal fast days in each     year.” (Mortal Messiah 1:185, McConkie)

14.When Jesus was 40 days old, they took him to the temple to be purified.     (See Luke 2:22; also Mill. Messiah, p. 350)

15.Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days. (Matt. 4:2)

16.The temple at Jerusalem was built in slightly over 40 years. (John 2:20)     (Also, the Salt Lake Temple was [98] constructed in 40 years.)

17.Jesus was “seen of” his disciples for 40 days after his resurrection.     (Acts. 1:3)

18.The Nephites wandered for 40 days in the wilderness. (Mosiah 7:4)

19.The great battle of extermination among the Nephites and Lamanites lasted     for a period of 40 years. (See Mormon 5 to Moroni 10–380 AD to 420 AD.)

20.And in this dispensation–the Prophet Joseph Smith, after meeting all forms     of resistance, once cried out, “Would to God that I had forty days and     nights in which to tell you all! I would let you know that I am not a     `fallen prophet'”. (TPJS, p. 355)

To better understand these 40-day fasts, let’s consider the account of Moses in more detail. When he was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days to receive the higher law, the scripture reads:

And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and get him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. (Ex. 24:16-18)

During this fast the Lord sustained him, and it was a fast centered upon receiving the law of God. It was not for any physical benefit, nor is there any mention of it as such, but when he came down from the mountain, he was clothed with brightness and holiness. However, when he saw the corruption of the children of Israel, he broke that set of stones. He once again fasted for 40 days, praying that the Lord would not destroy the people:

[99] And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes. And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.

For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the Lord was wroth against you to destroy you. But the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also. (Deut. 9:17-19)

While Moses was on the mount for the second time, he obtained another set of laws–the lesser law called “The Ten Commandments”–this time written by Moses himself:

And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. (Ex. 34:28)

So Moses made two trips up the mountain and was on two 40-day fasts! These were special fasts, directed and sustained by the Lord, otherwise Moses would have died. He endured more than mortal man could have by himself, which proved that certainly God was with him.

Alan Johnson made these important observations about the 40-day fasts of Moses, Elijah, and Christ:

These fasts have been largely misunderstood by most Christians. The length of these fasts was not necessarily given as an example for men to follow. Each was special, and each had a distinct purpose. None of these fasts were <sic> undertaken by the persons involved of their own choice because they sought a blessing from God. Each was led by God into the fast and was sustained by him during the entire period. It is essential to understand that there is [100] a distinct difference between these special long fasts and the regular short fasts which God established for His people to keep. The scriptures do not support the contention that such long fasts would endow all men with the special powers from God which Moses, Elijah, and Christ had.

Man perverts himself and the scriptures when he assumes that long forty-day fasts were ordained for all men. Those who insist that it is proper to “fast” for forty days in order to follow the example of Christ should adhere to the pattern of abstinence as well as length of time to be consistent with the example. This they cannot do. These men of God abstained not only from food entirely but also from water. Such a feat is a physical impossibility in the absence of supernatural sustenance. (Fasting, Second Step to Eternal Life, Johnson, p. 42)

Orson Pratt also commented on the 40-day fasts of these great men:

There was a power over and in those ancient servants of God, that satisfied the cravings of the appetite, in passing through such circumstances. (JD 18:265)

Martin Luther recognized the divine nature of these special 40-day fasts of Christ and Moses, and cautioned us not to do the same unless we have “his word”:

No one can follow this example and fast forty days and nights as Christ did without eating any food. Christ rather followed the example of Moses, who fasted also forty days and nights, when he received the law of God on Mount Sinai. Thus Christ also wished to fast when he was about to bring to us, and give expression to, the new law. * * * For although Christ did fast forty days, yet there is no word of his that he requires us to do the same and fast as he did. Indeed he did many other things, which he wishes us not to do; [101] but whatever he calls us to do or leave undone, we should see to it that we have his word to support our actions. (Sermons of Martin Luther 2:134)

Beneficial Effects of Long Fasts

As mentioned, then, 40-day fasts without food and water are not intended for us just because Moses, Elijah and Christ fasted that long. Longer liquid fasts today are more particularly for health reasons, as it is during long fasts that cancer cells and tumors are killed and the system is flushed out.

Johanna Brandt describes the beneficial effects of long fasts when grapes are used:

Abnormal growths, cancers, tumors, ulcers, abscesses and fibrous masses seem to be dissolved by the powerful chemical agent in the grape. Diseased tissues and fatty degenerations, every form of morbid matter, is apparently broken up into minute particles and thrown into the blood stream to be carried to the organs of excretion. (The Grape Cure, p. 105)

The ingestion of grapes and/or grape juice is an effective healer when sustaining such a fast for a long enough period of time. First, it gives the body the necessary food to sustain life. Second, it provides enzymes to sustain strength so a person can continue to work without tiring. Third, it acts as a powerful solvent to dissolve and break loose the hardened crusts of junk and poisons adhering to the stomach, intestines, blood vessels, or colon.

To accomplish proper and complete healing may take many long fasts, as curing the body of its maladies is not done miraculously or instantaneously. Johanna continues:


In my own case, while the poisons of the cancer have been eliminated and the cancer has disappeared, [102] physical examinations by medical men disclose that there are numerous adhesions as a result of the malignant growth. One doctor advances the opinion that it will take at least seven years for these adhesions to be broken up. It is useless, therefore, to continue the grape diet in the hope of completely eradicating the growth within a few weeks, or even a few months.

This treatment is slow, requiring patience and perseverance, but the patient is improving all the time, frequently able to go about his daily duties. One cannot expect to rid himself within a few weeks of poisons which he has been storing up during his entire life. (The Grape Cure, p. 76)

Oftentimes people use the grape cure for cancer because it will not only arrest a cancer, but it will also begin to dislodge some of its poisons. Since these toxins are released into the blood stream, a secondary problem arises: how to expel them as quickly as possible from the body. It is here that grape juice and water are vital to the cleansing of the system.

Also to be considered is the fact that some cancers are extremely difficult to eradicate from the body. When fasting and fighting the cancer has reduced these victims to just skin and bone, there is nothing left for the cancer to live on, so it usually dies before the patient does. Such problems are impossible to determine beforehand, as to how long it will take to arrive at a turning point for the disease. Cancers live on sick bodies and so it depends on the health of the body as to how long it takes to ward off such serious problems.

The best way to avoid most cancer is to take means to prevent it in the first place. Getting the body tuned up or purified through fasting, juices and pure water, is a good basic method.

[103] Not very much has been done scientifically in the realm of long fasts. Dr. Ehret said he had made four public scientific tests of fasting for 21, 24, and 32 days. (The latter test was the world’s record for a fast conducted under a strict scientific supervision by government officials.) He wrote:

How long one should fast cannot be definitely stated at all, in advance, even in cases where the condition of the patient is known. When and how to break the fast is determined by noting carefully how conditions change during the fast–you now understand that the fast should be broken as soon as you notice that the obstructions are becoming too great in the circulation, and the blood needs new vital substances to resist and neutralize the poisons.

Change your ideas regarding the claim “the longer you fast the better the cure.” (Mucusless Diet, Ehret, p. 148)

One man thought fasting would be a good way to commit suicide, but it backfired with astonishing results:

I do not know whether some desperate degrees of abstinence would not have the same effect upon other men, as they had upon Atticus, who, weary of his life as well as his physicians, by long and cruel pains of a dropsical gout, and despairing of any cure, resolved by degrees to starve himself to death, and went so far, that the physicians found he had ended his disease instead of his life. (Vitality, Fasting and Nutrition, Hereward Carrington, p. 92)

It has been acknowledged that some people have died from going on too long a fast. Probably they did not die from lack of food but rather from systems clogged with waste materials, fasting incorrectly, lack of water, breaking the fast with the wrong foods, etc. And this leads us to the next important section.


Breaking the Fast

The method of breaking a fast may be more critical than the fast itself. As mentioned, some people have actually died from improper handling of the return to solid food. One personal acquaintance of the author fasted nearly 40 days and then celebrated her accomplishment with her husband by eating a big feast. She became deathly sick, unable to get out of bed for over a week.

The whole fast may prove worthless just because of incorrectly breaking it. Sometimes it takes just as long to get back to normal eating as the fast itself. The craving for food is never stronger than right after a fast. Even over-exertion can be very dangerous.

According to Dr. Ehret, after the fast is finished, eating the right food is just as important as the abstaining from it:


How to Break a Fast

The right food after a fast is as important and decisive for proper results as the fast itself. At the same time, it depends entirely upon the condition of the patient, and very much upon the length of the fast. You may learn from the results of the two extreme cases, both of which ended fatally (not from the fast, but from the first wrong meal), just why this knowledge is so important.

A one-sided meat eater, suffering from diabetes, broke his fast which lasted about a week by eating dates and died from the effects. A man of over 60 years of age fasted twenty-eight days (too long); his first meal of vegetarian foods consisted mainly of boiled potatoes. A necessary operation showed that the potatoes were kept in the contracted intestines by thick, sticky mucus so strong that a piece had to be cut off, and the patient died shortly after the operation.

[105] In the first case the terrible poisons loosened in the stomach of this one-sided meat eater during his fast when mixed with the concentrated fruit sugar of the dates caused at once so great a fermentation with carbonic acid gases and other poisons that the patient could not stand the shock. The correct advice would be: First a laxative, later raw and cooked starchless vegetables, a piece of rough bran bread toast. Sauerkraut is to be recommended in such cases. No fruits should be eaten for a long time after fast has been broken. The patient should have been prepared for the fast by a longer transition diet.

In the second case the patient fasted entirely too long for a man of his age without proper preparation. Hot compresses on the abdomen, high enemas might have helped the elimination, together with a strong eliminative laxative and then starchless, mostly raw, vegetables; no fruits for a considerable time.

Through these two very instructive examples you may see how individually different the advice must be, and how wrong it is to make up general suggestions concerning how to break a fast. (Mucusless Diet, Ehret, pp. 150-51)

In coming off of a long fast, then, it is essential to eat only very small portions of food in the beginning. Then gradually eat more frequently so that the stomach has only small amounts to digest at a time. The best method is to gradually increase the intake of vegetable juices so that the body cells can quickly and easily receive good nutrition to begin its rebuilding program. Some people recommend eating a small grapefruit as the first food ingested into the body so that the digestive juices in the stomach will be stimulated.

It can’t be stressed enough that one should start eating solid foods very slowly and selectively–especially after longer fasts.


[106]                             Chapter 10


We must start on the lowest vehicle–the physical body–and gradually work up to perfection of mind and spirit. (The Grape Cure, J. Brandt, p. 132)

Most of those who have studied the field of health have observed that the best treatment of sickness is through a process of elimination. The sooner the toxic elements in the body are eliminated, the sooner the body returns to good health.

Illnesses such as cancer rarely grow overnight, and it takes time to completely dissipate them. By consistent purification, exercise, faith and proper eating, those diseases can usually be eliminated from the body.

To purify your body and restore good health, the impurities need to be cleansed and flushed out. All the garbage and junk that have been collecting through the years can eventually become a burden and a dangerous source of poison to the system. The drugs, chemicals and fat that come from poor eating are piled up in nooks and corners of the body and must be released and purged or they could clog important organ functions. Fasting is one of the best methods of purging the system.


Dangers of Eating Red Meat

Eating red meat frequently is one of the most common methods of bringing foreign chemicals and drugs into the system. Nearly all of the red meat animals have been fed diethylstilbestrol, or some other chemicals, to fatten the animal for more profitable sales. All meat from the “beasts of the field and fowls of the heaven” are “to be used sparingly” or “not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” (See D & C 89:12-14) The very thought of eating birds and animals is a little repulsive to our nature–especially if you have to kill and clean them first.

I once met a Buddhist, a complete vegetarian, who explained something to me that I have never forgotten. He said that the local meat market is really an animal morgue, and people gather there to select which dead body they want to take home and make their stomach its graveyard.

We should learn a lesson from the animal kingdom, where a meat-eating animal will not eat another meat eating animal. Nature gives it a knowledge that there is no food value in such animals. There is only about 6% food value in any kind of meat, yet it provides the main part of nearly every meal for human beings. It is almost a daily menu for people to have ham, bacon or sausage for breakfast; a meat sandwich, beef soup or hamburger for lunch; and then come home to roast beef, pork chops, meatloaf, or steak for supper.

I worked with a fellow who grew up in Iowa and worked at a slaughter house. He said for the rest of his life he would never eat hot dogs or cold meats, because he saw what went into them–and we call that good food!

[108] Some of the chemicals put into animal feed are designed to create a watery fat in the animal and thereby make a bigger animal at sale time. Cattlemen usually care less, or are completely ignorant of the dangers of using these drugs, and they feed them to the animals right up to the time of butchering. Cattle are supposed to be restricted from chemicalized feed at least four days before slaughter.

These drugs are then passed on in the meat, and the customer ingests them into his body where they do the same thing to humans that they do for cattle. Meat-eating Americans are often pudgy and filled with watery fat from chemicals they know nothing about.

Most of these chemicals can be avoided in a very few ways:

  1. Stop eating foods that contain them.
  2. Purge them from the body through fasting.
  3. Eat the kind of foods that have a gradual and continual cleansing effect on the body.

Purified Conditions During the Millennium

From the information we have been given about conditions existing during the Millennium, no meat will be eaten by the inhabitants living during that time. In fact, animals will cease eating other animals, as Isaiah has prophesied:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

[109]And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isa. 11:6-9)

[110] The word Millennium is from Latin meaning a “thousand years”. In religious matters it refers to the time following the Second Coming of Christ on the earth until its final cleansing by fire. (See Rev. 19.) The Millennium is a very important subject for us to understand as it represents the cleansing of the earth, the purification of mankind, and the restructuring of all living things. In our dispensation, the Lord has explained the purification that will occur during this time:

And in that day the enmity of man, and the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease from before my face. And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death. In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree; and when he dies he shall not sleep, that is to say in the earth, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and shall be caught up, and his rest shall be glorious (D. & C. 101:26, 29-31)

Trees live to all different ages: some, such as the oak, live past 200 years, while others may live up to 700 years. When Joseph Smith wrote the Articles of Faith, he stated that “We believe . . . that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.” (Article 10) Joseph is saying that the earth will be in a condition similar to before the fall of Adam–a state of paradise. Even for several generations after the fall, men lived from 300 to 900 years of age. Such will be the condition of the terrestrial bodies of men during the Millennium.

Even the animals will be changed for “the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease,” (D & C 101:26) meaning neither man nor beast will eat other beasts, or meat. What an important lesson for us to learn in this telestial world in preparation for the terrestrial order of the Millennium!

[111] The Lord gave this warning also in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants:

. . . flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. (v. 12-13)

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures. (v. 18-19)

In addition to having a peaceful co-existence with the animals, living to the age of a tree, and experiencing no sorrow, there will be no sickness or disease:

Physical bodies of those living on earth during the millennium will not be subject to the same ills that attend us in our present sphere of existence. Men in that day will still be mortal; children will be born to them; spirits coming into the physical or natural bodies born in that day will then go through their mortal probation as we are now going through ours. Those born during the millennium will not be immortal, that is their bodies and spirits will not be inseparably connected as is the case with resurrected beings. But their bodies will be changed from conditions as they now exist so that disease cannot attack them, and death as we know it cannot intervene to cause a separation of body and spirit. (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, p. 451)

And because of the purified condition of those living during the Millennium, great treasures of knowledge will be revealed to them:

[112] In this pre-millennial age we have the fulness of the gospel, meaning that we have the fulness of the authority and sealing power whereby man can be sealed up unto eternal life and become an inheritor of the fulness of eternal reward in our Father’s kingdom. But we do not have the fulness of truth; many glorious gospel doctrines have been known and taught in previous dispensations which have not as yet been restored to us. Such was the case, for instance, with Enoch and his people, with certain of the Jaredites, and with the Nephite people following the ministry of Christ among them.

But with the dawning of the millennium, the restoration of all things, “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began,” shall be completed. (Acts 3:21) As Nephi expressed it, “All things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed.” (2 Ne. 30:15-18; D. & C. 121:26-32) The sealed part of the Book of Mormon, for one thing, probably will not come forth until the millennium.

In addition, millennial revelations will bring to light truths never before manifest to any mortal. “When the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things–Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof–Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.” (D. & C. 101:32-34) (Ibid., pp. 451-52)

Purifying Internally as well as Externally

People will shower and wash several times a day to clean the outside of their bodies, but are unconcerned about their internal system. Some of the Roman Caesars would bathe up to eight times a day because they felt dirty–but that would not cleanse them internally, nor would it take away their wickedness.

[113] Sometimes, however, elements are taken into the bodily system which cannot be discarded in waste, sweat or be burned out. What happens to them? The body piles them up somewhere–much the same as you might pile trash in the corner of your basement–but after awhile you realize that you need to clean your basement or the trash will take over your home. So, too, the body suffers from the same situation, so it is necessary to “clean house” with your body.

The beneficial aspects of the purple grape cannot be over-emphasized. It is perhaps the single most respected cleanser:

The chemicals in the ripe grape, perfectly balanced, are harmless solvents; dissolving all foreign matter in the body–even to stones in the kidneys without damage to healthy tissue. The chemicals are also eliminators in that they remove the toxic matter once it has been broken down. Constipation is almost impossible, unless there be a bowel obstruction. They are also antiseptics which disinfect wounds and cavities caused by the removal of accumulated toxic matter in the various glands. Above all, the chemicals in the grape are cell builders. (The Grape Cure, Basil Shackleton, p. 41)

The use of water, lemon juice, and fruit acids are used in a fast for loosening and thinning the impurities that are clogged up in the circulation system. The continual flushing of the body has the same function as flushing out the radiator system of a car; both cleanse the circulation system. Dr. Ehret said he saw patients flush out drugs from their systems that they had taken as far back as forty years before.

During a cleansing fast the blood becomes the carrier of many “deposits” of junk that have clung on to the body for many years. These are “deposits that no doctor ever dreamed existed, and that no other method of healing has ever [114] discovered or can ever remove.” (Dr. Ehret, Mucusless Diet, p. 159)

During a juice fast the functions of the eliminative and cleansing organs (lungs, liver, kidneys, and even the skin) are greatly enhanced. For example, during a fast the concentration of toxins in the urine can be up to ten times higher than normal. Sometimes these poisons become so concentrated throughout the system that these internal organs cannot flush them out fast enough, and there may be skin eruptions, excessive perspiration, increased mucus, and/or bad breath. Although these may be unpleasant experiences temporarily, the body is undergoing a much needed cleansing and appreciates the fast.

In fasting, your body feeds itself on the most impure and inferior materials, such as dead cells and morbid accumulations, tumors, abscesses, damaged tissues, fat deposits, etc., Dr. Buchinger Sr., one of the greatest fasting authorities in the world, calls fasting–very pertinently–a “refuse disposal”, a “burning of rubbish.” These dead cells and inferior tissues are consumed and utilized first. The essential tissues and vital organs, the glands, the nervous system and the brain are spared. (Juice Fasting, Dr. Paavo Airola, p. 22)

To cleanse the system of its impurities, people should use fruit and vegetable juices during a fast. When used properly, they can do wonders for the body. Dr. Ehret recommends:

The “fanatic” fasting enthusiast drinks only water. He thinks it best to avoid any trace of food whatsoever. I consider a light lemonade with a little honey or brown sugar or a fruit juice the best. Drink as often as you care to during the day, but in general not more than 2 or 3 quarts a day. The less you drink [115] the more aggressive the fast works.

As a change, vegetable juices made from cooked starchless vegetables are very good during a longer fast. Raw tomato juice, etc., is also good. But if fruit juice–for example, orange juice, is used during a long fast, be extremely careful because the fruit juices may cause the poisons to become loosened too rapidly without causing a bowel movement. I know a number of such fruit or fruit juice fasts which failed completely because all mucus and all poisons if loosened too fast and too much at one time disturb all organs too greatly when in the circulation, and can be eliminated only through the circulation and without the aid of bowel movements. (Mucusless Diet, Ehret, p. 155)

Brigham Young gave the following advice regarding proper foods to eat:

Now, sisters, will you take notice and instruct those who are not here today, to adopt this rule–stop your children from eating meat, and especially fat meat; let them have composition to drink, instead of unhealthy water; let them eat a little milk porridge; let them eat sparingly and not oppress the stomach so as to create a fever. * * * When we commence to shape our lives according to the judgment that is given to us, and we exercise a proper portion of thought, and study the laws of life, to know what to give, and how to guide and direct our children and ourselves, we shall find that the longevity of this people will increase. (JD 19:69)

No one in the world needs to purify their bodies more than the Americans do, mostly because there are so many unhealthy and trash foods available here. The first step toward this purification, according to Gandhi, is by fasting:

In the end, of course, there is only one basis of the whole ideal of fasting, and that is purification. Fasts for spiritual purification have really been forgotten in [116] our day. If they are ever undertaken, they are either purely imitative or merely for the sake of tradition, and we cannot therefore derive the benefit from them that we should. (Ethics of Fasting, M. Gandhi, p. 98)

Purification by fasting affects both body and spirit. Consider how miraculous this was among the Nephites:

Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God. (Helaman 3:35)

The purification process of fasting is a total regeneration program, and in a good fast every organ and even the skin cells are all benefitted. Dr. P. Airola expressed this very well:

Fasting not only accomplishes a physiological regeneration and revitalization of your body, but has a profound stimulating effect on your mental faculties. It also increases your spiritual awareness. It is important, therefore, to adopt a proper relaxed attitude. Try to dissociate yourself from the usual everyday problems and the worries of the material world, and let the refinement and perfection of your inner self come to the fore as the ultimate purpose of your existence.

Fasting is the time of rest, meditation and renewal of body, mind and spirit. In most religions–Oriental, Hebrew, Christian, Mohammadan–periodic fasting played a vital part, for two reasons: one, to keep the body (the temple of the spirit) clean; two, to keep the spirit attuned with its Divine source. (Juice Fasting, p. 76)

There are over 80 million people in the United States that are overweight. It is not cancer, heart disease, or automobile accidents that are the principle killers of people in [117] this country. It is obesity–people take a greater chance of contracting these unhealthy conditions and diseases because of their obesity. Some reducing diets are unhealthy and body damaging, so the most sensible way to reduce is to fast and eat less–thus purifying the body at the same time.

Juice fasting is the fastest, safest, and easiest way to reduce. A 14-day fast will usually take off 14 pounds. At the same time you can continue with regular activities and work without tiring or suffering. And, when the extra baggage is discarded, you will feel much better than before.

Through the cleansing and purification of the body by fasting, other effects will also be manifested, such as visual improvement and clearer thinking. Your concentration and thoughts will rise to a better level. Your attitude will change towards the creations of plants, animals and the earth itself. Your life will take on a more healthy and brighter perspective. This has to be actually experienced, however, in order to better understand and appreciate this miraculous change.


[118]                             Chapter 11


Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye <even> to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. (Joel 2:12)

Spirituality, the Main Objective

The first and foremost object of fasting should be to gain spiritual strength, although, as already mentioned, there are many other reasons as well. If we fast merely to lose weight or to supply the welfare program, we have acted for the letter of the law and missed the spirit of it. Strength of the body is important, but strength of the spirit is essential.

Authors and practitioners of fasting mutually agree that to fast is to gain spiritual strength. For example, Johanna Brandt explains:

Employ every material means of ridding the system of its gross impurities and you will be surprised to find that in doing this you are developing the more spiritual powers of mind and soul. (The Grape Cure, p. 66)

Basil Shackleton expresses the same:

In mankind, three elements, or facets, group together in the formation of balance: the mind, the [119] body and the spirit. When each facet is fully developed, as nature intended it–the body to the maximum power of its physical strength to expand without strain; the mind to the limit of its cultural mastery for intellectual progress in thought control and power to reason; and the spirit to the fullness of its absolute expression in its communion with God; then a person is whole, pure and in perfect balance! (The Grape Cure, Shackleton, p. 35)

I then became vividly aware that there comes a time in our lives when we are compelled to face our own problems absolutely alone, looking deep into our conscience and the pattern of our lives; a time when no other living person can be of help; a poignant moment when we must reach beyond ourselves, into the Divine Pattern for strength and understanding. Instead of calling in friends, I did just that! And so I was comforted. (Ibid., p. 38)

And from Alan Johnson–

The spirit does not hunger and thirst after the same thing which the body desires. Therefore, by suspending for a time that which satisfies the body, such as food, drink, recreation, physical labor, marital cohabitation, sleep, and other activities which satisfy physical needs, man is better able to fulfil his spiritual needs. There seems to be a natural law that the physical functions of man, when stimulated and catered to, must be satisfied before the spiritual. Therefore, only by wilfully suppressing the temporal for a time can real spiritual exercise take place. By obeying always the physical desires, people produce a real spiritual drought. God has said that if his children will fast, spiritually and temporally, he will satisfy this drought. The soul will then bear fruit. Paul indicates the nature of this fruit: “. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: . . .” (Gal. 5:22-23) (Fasting, Second Step to Eternal Life, p. 28)

[120]And from Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

In all ages the Lord has called upon his people to fast and pray and seek him with all their strength and power. Fasting–the abstaining from food and drink for a designated period–gives a man a sense of his utter dependence upon the Lord so that he is in a better frame of mind to get in tune with the Spirit. (Mortal Messiah 2:152)

Fasting as Viewed by World Religious Leaders

Obviously no one understands fasting better than those who frequently experience it, regardless of whether it is for physical or spiritual purposes. Probably few know the rigors that attend it better than some of the Monks who took such lifetime vows. One of the most well-known was Martin Luther, who clearly understood what a sacrifice this would entail–a renunciation of self-will, the scanty diet, rough clothing, vigils by night and labors by day, mortification of the flesh, the reproach of poverty, the shame of begging, and the distastefulness of cloistered existence–all this added to repetitious fasting and prayers.

Whatever good works a man might do to save himself, these Luther was resolved to perform.

He fasted, sometimes three days on end without a crumb. The seasons of fasting were more consoling to him than those of feasting. Lent was more comforting than Easter. He laid upon himself vigils and prayers in excess of those stipulated by the rule. He cast off the blankets permitted him and wellnigh froze himself to death. At times he was proud of his sanctity and would say, “I have done nothing wrong today.” Then misgivings would arise. “Have you fasted enough? Are you poor enough?” He would then strip himself of all save that which decency required. He believed in later life that his austerities had done permanent damage to his digestion.

[121] “I was a good monk, and I kept the rule of my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery it was I. All my brothers in the monastery who knew me will bear me out. If I had kept on any longer, I should have killed myself with vigils, prayers, reading, and other work.” (Here I Stand, Roland Bainton, p. 34)

[122] Many other great religious leaders, such as Confucius, Buddha and Mohammed, all fasted to receive further light and knowledge. Their faith and fasting were dedications to receive communion with the Father. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and other Catholic scholars were dedicated to fasting.

A devoted Hindu engages in many fasts–some are involuntary, but most are a part of his devotion. He does it, not because of need for repentance, but to give him further spiritual power. Some claim to have achieved power over the forces of nature and the elements by taking long runs for hundreds of miles–and in a very short time. They believe they overcome much of the force of gravity and achieve a lightness of body called Laghima.

Hinduism has no formal organization and its teachings are handed down from father to son, becoming the principle factors in his life. His religion is his whole life, permeating through everything he does and thinks. Christians would do well to take note of what devotion means by studying the life and thought of the Hindu:

Religion is ever present to a Hindu’s mind. It colours all his ideas. It runs through every fibre of his being. It is the very Alpha and Omega of his whole earthly career. He is born religious, and dies religious. He is religious in his eating and drinking, in his sleeping and walking, in his dressing and undressing, in his rising up and sitting down, in his work and amusement. Nay, religion attends him in ante-natal ceremonies long before his birth, and follows him in endless offering for the good of his soul long after death. (Religious Life and Thought in India, Sir Monier Williams)

Fasting is not practiced much among the Buddhists or the followers of Confucius, although their founders were well [123] acquainted with it. Mohammed, the founder of Islam, believed strongly in fasting and established one month to be held for fasting. The spiritual influence of fasting by the Moslems is described by Kenneth Morgan:

Fasting is the means by which the Muslim voluntarily abandons certain legitimate frivolous enjoyments as a means of putting his soul to a test and promoting its capacity for perseverance, thus strengthening his will to keep away from sins, both obvious and obscure. The Muslim thereby samples enough of starvation to make him a warm-hearted, hospitable person, sympathetic with the poor who are in constant want. This is precisely the spirit Islam endeavors to create in the Muslim’s heart and mind by requiring fasting as a mode of worship. Therefore, Islam attaches no significance to the kind of fasting that does not inspire this great humanitarian spirit, and a person fasting for any other purpose has nothing to gain except hunger and thirst. * * *

Fasting offers both bodily and spiritual advantages–advantages for the individual and for society in this world to come. For example, the man who fasts develops strength of will because he decides not to eat or drink; he becomes more considerate of his fellow men; he becomes pious and virtuous; his spirit is enlightened and his body becomes clean of sin. If he is rich he will find a common tie with the poor which is beneficial to society because some of his property will be distributed to the poor; and the poor will be gratified because they will see that pleasure is sometimes denied to the rich. (Islam–the Straight Path, pp. 116, 215)

Fasting is a sacrifice to the Lord and He accepts it as such. This little offering is such a minor thing in our life and yet it carries such tremendous blessings that it really cannot be considered a sacrifice. A sacrifice is something given, but in fasting and prayer there is a greater return than in the offering made! With all of our luxuries and bounteous living, we should be the most willing to offer the “sacrifice” of fasting. We could [124] learn such a lesson from other people of the world who are in much worse condition.

Prevailing prayer is united with regular fasting. The Underground Church of the Soviet Union fasts on Fridays. They fast even in slave labour-camps, where they are hungry the whole week long. The Church Fathers and the great Evangelists believed in fasting. Tertullian wrote a treatise on this subject. St. Polycarp saw in fasting a powerful aid against temptation. Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, the Catholics until not long ago, all stressed the necessity of fasting. (Would You Give Him a Blanket?, Wurmbrand, p. 100)

Temporal versus Spiritual

We usually suppose that fasting creates a weakness in the body, and in some respects that is true. One will notice a gradual weakness of physical strength, but on the other hand an increase in spiritual power.

It is natural for man to lose his appetite when he is under stress, sorrow and grief, but under these conditions he usually draws closer to God. One may look back upon his life and in those moments of tremendous trials, it was then that he was closer to God than any other time. Indeed, it was then that he may be able to bear the strongest testimony of GodÕs intervention and assistance. When a person has lost his home in a fire, or a family member in war or tragic death, his heart is usually turned more to God for strength and comfort. During those moments man may have his deepest and clearest communions with God.

As one suffers the pangs for food, he develops humility, meekness and a special sort of spiritual sorrow. These are usually pre-requisite to receiving forgiveness, and the beginning of righteousness and inspiration.

[125] Some of the greatest spiritual achievements and testimonies are gained during the times when we are the least attached to the temporal world. These times are easily brought about through fasting, which detaches us from the physical world. Fasting is an abstinence of temporal, physical and mortal things, thus drawing our attention and concentration toward the spiritual. Some of the greatest events in the scriptures usually had some connection to the principle of fasting.

Many Bible stories are so impressive that some ministers and religious leaders long to have similar experiences themselves. On occasion they have even invented spectacular stories so they can bear this testimony to their audiences. This has occurred even in the Mormon Church.

One widely circulated account involved a Protestant minister by the name of Ken Cantrell, who believed in the spiritual powers of fasting enough to originate a personal experience demonstrating this power in his life. Fate magazine, publisher of stories that supposedly are true but unusual, printed Ken’s story in their February 1971 issue and entitled it “The Man Who Walked Through Fire.” It was written by George Butler, an experienced newspaper staff writer, who had also written this story for his paper under the title of “Miracle of the Fiery Furnace.”

Briefly stated, the story concerned Ken, a Navy man and authorized minister of a Protestant church, from Huntsville, Alabama. He was in the Mediterranean Sea aboard the U.S.S. Lake Champlain in 1953. When he was 17 days into a 21-day fast, a supposedly miraculous event took place. One of the sailors handling some fuel had an accident, causing a massive explosion and fire below deck in the catapult room. Cantrell and 15 of his companions were below deck and trapped in the [126] room. All 15 men were burned to death, but Ken came out unscathed, even after returning several times into the fire to retrieve the bodies of the dead sailors. Ken told of picking up red hot wrenches, being able to see through the fire, and even walking through it.

The story apparently sounded somewhat credible since the man was a minister and was demonstrating the spiritual powers he had as a result of his lengthy fast. Since his body was purified, God protected him–at least that is the story that Ken Cantrell related on subsequent occasions.

Shortly after this story appeared in Fate magazine, however, the staff began receiving letters questioning its accuracy. A letter from J. M. Rusch, U.S. Navy Commander in Washington, D.C., under date of 9 February 1971, stated that the U.S.S. Lake Champlain was not in the Mediterranean on August 7, 1953, and no fire had ever occurred in the catapult room; also that Cantrell had been detached April 26, 1953.

Fate magazine attempted to contact Rev. Cantrell, but his wife didn’t know when he would return home, and he never returned their calls nor answered their letters. It was concluded, therefore, that this was just a hoax and that the minister had made up the whole story. A retraction was printed in the July 1971 issue of Fate under the title, “The Man Who Didn’t Walk Through Fire”.

It is unfortunate that incidents such as this have occurred, when in reality miracles have been experienced by people who have increased their spirituality through fasting.

We are supposed to be “instruments in the hands of the Lord,” but we should be clean instruments. Consider a doctor working on a patient with dirty instruments, or instruments [127] that didn’t work the way they are supposed to. So also God wants His people to be clean, pure and in a holy condition so that He can speak to them and use them as He desires. We are supposed to prepare ourselves to be tools in the hands of our Maker. To be clean instruments we must stay away from anything that would contaminate us, morally or physically.

Abstaining from food is not the only part of a fast, for it may require refraining from many other things of a temporal nature, such as ambitions, sports, marital cohabitation, light mindedness, or any thing else that would draw the mind and spirit away from the spiritual. It is training the self-will to draw towards God’s will. The desire for God should be greater than the desires for food, sleep, work, fellowship, pleasure, etc.

St. Augustine wrote an essay called “The Usefulness of Fasting” in which he said:

Therefore, my dearly beloved, since there is an earthly food on which the weakness of the flesh feeds, there is also a heavenly food by which the devotion of the mind is nourished. The earthly food belongs to one kind of life; the heavenly food to another. (The Fathers of the Church, p. 404)

The soul of man is composed of both body and spirit, and we cannot care for one and neglect the other. A true fast then is for the purification of both body and spirit. Purging the body is only a part of the fast and is of little worth if it does not also cleanse the mind and heart.

The Body as a Temple

The Apostle Paul said, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? . . . for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (I Cor. 3:16, 17) It may be the temple of God, but some people treat it [128] like a garbage dump. Our body should be more sacred to us than any man-made temple. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Our body is the creation of God and therefore it is rightfully His.
  2. It has a special mission, which is to do His will, not ours.
  3. It requires constant cleansing and purification, more than any man-made stone temple.
  4. It deserves dignity, because disrespect for the body is disrespect for God.
  5. According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the Celestial Kingdom.” (TPJS, p. 181)

If we properly respect this body-temple and keep it clean, we will enjoy all the spiritual gifts and powers that ever attended any man-made temple. The scriptures state that. A good example of this was taught to the disciples of Jesus, and it concerned the principle of fasting:

A man came to the disciples declaring that his son was possessed of an evil spirit, which was sorely vexing the son. Since the disciples were unable to cast out that spirit, they took the man and his son to Jesus. The Savior asked the father if he believed, and he replied, “Lord, help thou my unbelief.” Jesus cast out the evil spirit and gave the son back to his father. The disciples were confused and asked, “Why could not we cast him out?” Jesus replied, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (See Mark 9:14-29)

Bruce McConkie noted one of the reasons for the difference in power:

Clearly there are degrees of malignity and evil powers among the demons in hell. Just as there is a [129] heavenly hierarchy, so is there a satanic government that puts one evil spirit in charge of another; and just as there are degrees of righteousness and glory, so are there levels of lewdness and evil. And it take greater faith to overcome greater evils. “If a man has not faith enough to do one thing,” the Prophet Joseph Smith says, “he may have faith to do another: if he cannot remove a mountain, he may heal the sick.” <DHC 5:355> (Millennial Messiah 3:73)

Aurelius Miner also commented on this incident and explained:

Said the Savior to his disciples in answer to their inquiry: howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Then we have a clue from the declaration of the Savior himself as to how this power is obtained. To believe only? No. Belief only would be worthless; belief followed by works under the direction of the Holy Spirit which is the power of God brings forth the power of faith. Have you Elders of Israel found yourselves in the same condition as these disciples, when called upon to perform a similar act, and if you have, did you know the reason why? Learn the answer from the lips of the Savior. Do you fast and pray according to the ordinances of this system, through which the power of God is obtained? If you have not, then your ministrations were in vain because you failed to comply with the conditions. Are the promises to men in an individual capacity? In one sense, yes, in another, no. When the conditions prescribed are complied with, then the fulfillment of the promises must be forthcoming, for God cannot lie. Is it the individual that acts then? No. He is simply the representative; it is the ministering servant of God who acts, not in his own name but in the name of his principal, by virtue of the power behind the throne. Just the same as the Judge upon the bench or the police upon the street. Do they act in their own name? No, but are representatives of a power from whom they hold their commissions. So they who minister in the holy ordinances of the Gospel, minister [130] not in their own name, but by virtue of the authority of their commission. (JD 20:234-35)

Blessings of Prayer and Fasting

It is interesting to note that scriptural references to fasting are nearly always preceded by prayer. How often we see and hear the two terms “prayer and fasting” used together. Notice what a blessing this was to the Nephites:

Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God. (Helaman 3:35)

Prayer should accompany and be a part of fasting. A computer requires programming and input, otherwise it is worthless; so also a person needs proper input because nothing can come out of the mind until it has first been put in there. Prayer (and study) is for that purpose. President Joseph F. Smith stated:

It <fasting> would call attention to the sin of over-eating, place the body in subjection to the spirit, and so promote communion with the Holy Ghost, and insure 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. (Gospel Doctrine, p. 237)

Many spiritual blessings flow from this combination of prayer and fasting, a few of which are noted below:


  1. Prophecy and revelation

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 17:3)

I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. . . . (Alma 5:46)

The Prophet Daniel fasted and prayed for 21 days and received a revelation of the great events of the last days. (See Daniel 10:2+.)

Luke 2:36 states that Anna “served God with fasting and prayer” and it was revealed to her that the infant was the promised Messiah.

  1. Missionary Work

Paul and Barnabas were called into the ministry through fasting:

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers: . . .

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (Acts 13:1-3)

On the fourth day of a fast it was revealed to Cornelius where he would find Peter, through whom he would receive the gospel. (Acts 10:30)

  1. Appearance of Angels

And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my [132] house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, . . . (Acts 10:30)

  1. Avoiding Temptation

Defraud ye not one the other, except <it be> with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. (I Cor. 7:5)

* * *

Nearly everyone who dedicates themselves to sincere prayer and fasting will receive blessings. Many important events have occurred because of this combination. For instance, George A. Smith related how one of the major events in Church history came about through this means:

We look around today and behold our city <Salt Lake City> clothed with verdure and beautified with trees and flowers, with streams of water running in almost every direction, and the question is frequently asked, “How did you ever find this place?” I answer, we were led to it by the inspiration of God. After the death of Joseph Smith, when it seemed as if every trouble and calamity had come upon the Saints, Brigham Young, who was President of the Twelve, then the presiding quorum of the Church, sought the Lord to know what they should do, and where they should lead the people for safety, and while they were fasting and praying daily on this subject, President Young had a vision of Joseph Smith, who showed him the mountain that we now call Ensign Peak, immediately north of Salt Lake City, and there was an ensign fell upon that peak, and Joseph said, “Build under the point where the colors fall and you will prosper and have peace.” The pioneers had no pilot or guide, none among them had ever been in the country or knew anything about it. However, they travelled under the direction of President Young until they reached this valley. When they entered it President [133] Young pointed to that peak, and said he, “I want to go there.” He went up to the point and said, “This is Ensign Peak. Now, brethren, organize your exploring parties, so as to be safe from Indians; go and explore where you will, and you will come back every time and say this is the best place.” They accordingly started out exploring companies and visited what we now call Cache, Malad, Tooele, and Utah valleys, and other parts of the country in various directions, but all came back and declared this was the best spot. (JD 13:85)

Temporal riches will be a heavy burden in the day of judgment. So will the luxuries, comforts and pleasures of this world. Jesus said, “In prison ye visited me;” He didn’t say, “In cathedrals ye visited me.” He never met anyone on a hunting trip or visited a championship basketball team, but He has come to those who have fasted and prayed and thereby gained spiritual strength and thus opened the door for Him to enter.


[134]                             Chapter 12



Behold, now it came to pass that the people of Nephi were exceedingly rejoiced, because the Lord had again delivered them out of the hands of their enemies; therefore they gave thanks unto the Lord their God; yea, and they did fast much and pray much, and they did worship God with exceeding great joy. (Alma 45:1)

Fasting Brings Joy

There are many reasons in our mortality for joy and rejoicing, but since there must be opposition in all things, there are also many occasions for sorrow and misery. Obedience to righteous principles and laws will bring happiness, while on the other hand, disobedience to these laws and principles can result in misery. The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. (TPJS, pp. 255-56)

[135] One of these commandments is the law of fasting. (See D & C 88:76.) Fasting results in happiness as we develop a greater appreciation for food, good health, and life itself. The Lord associated fasting with joy and rejoicing:

And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full. Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer. (D & C 59:13-14)

Christ is promising the blessings of joy, happiness and rejoicing for those who will obey the law of fasting. In this sense fasting becomes a spiritual law associated with higher promises from the Lord. Many men who have practiced this law of fasting have taken particular notice of the resulting benefits and joys and have expressed their feelings. For example, Dr. Arnold Ehret wrote:

. . . your brain will function in a manner that will surprise you. Your former life will take on the appearance of a dream, and for the first time in your existence your consciousness awakens to a real self-consciousness.

Your mind, your thinking, your ideals, your aspirations and your philosophy changes fundamentally in such a way as to beggar description.

Your soul will shout for joy and triumph over all misery of life, leaving it all behind you. For the first time you will feel a vibration of vitality through your body (like a slight electric current) that shakes you delightfully.

You will learn and realize that fasting and superior fasting (and not volumes of psychology and philosophy) is the real and only key to a superior life; to the revelation of a superior world, and to the spiritual world. (Mucusless Diet, p. 161)

[136] Johanna Brandt, who also spent many years of research on the effects of fasting, discovered:

A deep, inner, spiritual conviction that this simple remedy <fasting> was a divine gift struck to the core of my being. Since that memorable turning point, an abiding soul-rapture has been mine. The surface storms of life can never touch it. * * *

Each day brings fresh surprises, new revelations, more amazing proofs. Not until you have experienced it yourself can you realize what it means to possess the power of demonstrating facts to an unbelieving world. (The Grape Cure, pp. 149-50)

Anyone who has been sick knows the gloom and despondency that attend it. But when a person recovers their good health, they are happy for it. Fasting is a means to gain and maintain good health and the reason to rejoice. When Jesus healed the sick, the lame and the blind, they all rejoiced and praised the Lord.

Good things bring joy to the soul, and when we do something worthwhile, we have a certain pride and reason to rejoice in it. For instance, a painter who creates a masterpiece understandably receives joy and pleasure in his accomplishment. A person who grows a beautiful garden experiences joy from their labor in producing it. A woman who gives birth to a child has an emotional and everlasting joy in that accomplishment. These are natural laws connected with rejoicing and so it is with a successful fast.

Have you ever been so thrilled and excited over something that you even lost your appetite and couldn’t eat? Consider your graduation day, your wedding day, or maybe even your first automobile! This also can be carried a step further–in a spiritual fast. It can be done with the spirit of the Lord and your thoughts remaining upon Him. When it is [137] over and you have made that sacrifice for Him and have obeyed His command, He returns that favor and blesses with joy and rejoicing. This is a true fast.

Heber C. Kimball commented on the joys that can come from obeying this commandment and thus enjoying the Spirit of the Lord:

I feel very cheerful and happy today. I find that the more that I have of the Spirit of God, the more cheerful I am; and it is so with all men of God. (JD 8:351)

But you take a person who has got the Spirit of God, who is humble, meek, and of a child-like spirit, that is the man; I do not care if he is in a mud-hole, neither do I care if he has forty mobocrats after him, or if he is a-straddle of a cannon, he is happy. (JD 5:429)

You think our Father and our God is not a lively, sociable, and cheerful man. He is one of the most lively men that ever lived; and when we have that sociability and cheerfulness, it is the Spirit of the Lord. (JD 5:180)

Therefore, if Mormons are truly living their religion, they should be the happiest of all people, as Jedediah M. Grant noted:

I remember a noted deist who said that it was a poor religion that would not make a person happy here in this life: he would not give a fig for such a religion; and I would say the same; give me a religion that will make me happy here, and that will make me happy hereafter. If you have the blues, or the greens, shake them off, and learn to be happy, and to be thankful. (JD 3:11)

[138] Mormons could learn a great deal from the Hunza people who for over 2000 years have lived healthy and happy lives tucked away in a small valley that borders India, Kashmir, China and Afghanistan. It is a place of unbelievable simplicity, beauty, and healthy people–probably best described by James Hilton in his book and movie entitled “Lost Horizon”.

The Hunzas have rarely been afflicted with the illnesses prevalent among “civilized” people. Many of them live to 125 years of age; they father children at 90; they never have cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure. The few scientists and doctors who have visited that land over the past 75 years describe it as a Garden of Eden. They say the Hunza people with their secrets of youth and health are a living legend to the rest of the world.

Very few people have visited Hunza because of the perilous passes and the narrow gorge near a fast torrent of icy water that leads to it. Genghis Khan tried to conquer them and failed; so did the English. It is a natural fortress. For the modern traveler who should desire to visit, there are no hotels, restaurants, or retail stores.

The Hunzas are a Caucasian race in the midst of Hindus and Moslems, and their language doesn’t resemble any other known tongue. They are a peaceful people, and have an envious inner strength. They have conquered greed, hatred, selfish ambition, and the common traits of war and violence, and have submitted themselves to a tranquility that few people ever achieve. The infrequent visitor is hypnotized by the beauty, peace, and kindness of the people.

The Hunzas have an ideal civilization–there are no rich or poor. They have no doctors, lawyers, or bankers. There is no need for politicians or competitive businesses. There are no licenses, fees, or taxes.

[139] There is no juvenile delinquency in Hunza, and divorce is a rarity. There are no jails, police or army, and there is no need for them, as there hasn’t been a crime reported for the last 130 years. (Hunza Health Secrets, Renee Taylor, Preface p. ix)

To a Mormon, this would indeed be Zion!

One of the keys to their health and happiness is the food they eat–mostly fruits and vegetables, with almost no meat of any kind. They use no chemicals in their soil or food. Through the winter their food supply is very scant, consisting of dried fruits and stored vegetables. This is called their “enforced fast”. Renee Taylor, who visited Hunza, explained this in her book:

There is a time in Hunza when there is no food to be had at any price: in the late spring before the new harvest has been gathered. Then the Hunzakuts go on an enforced fast. During this fast the digestive mechanism of the body is given a rest, the body lives on its own reserves, and old cells are eliminated. What is left constitutes the nucleus, or basis, of a new sound body. * * *

Climate, nutrition, earthbound simplicity, emotional balance–undoubtedly all these factors contribute to the exceptional physical condition of the people of Hunza.

But the seasonal scarcity of food to which they are subjected each spring is one health-giving factor that has been largely overlooked. The high elevation and restricted farming land limit their production of foodstuffs to dangerously low levels for existing needs. Come early spring and last yearÕs harvest has been consumed. A few potatoes may be left, perhaps, and a little grain or some dried apricots. Frequently, however, there is very little left of any edibles, and the people simply have to wait for the new crop of fruit, berries, grains and vegetables. They turn thin and scrawny, but they do not forget how to smile. They go [140] on with their work with a friendly attitude and faith that soon they will have plenty of food.

The enforced fast undoubtedly has its rejuvenating effect. The cells, tissue and organs, deprived of all unused and precipitated blockade materials, are ready to be replenished anew.

This physical rebirth, as it were, might well be a major factor in the physical superiority of the Hunzakuts. And it is more than likely that their seasonal fasts tend to keep them humble, friendly, helpful and devotional. (Hunza Health Secrets, pp. 171, 176-77)

Babylon’s Counter Attack

Through the mediums of television, magazines, and the advertising world, we are blasted with propaganda about food we should eat. We have been programmed to get up in the morning and break our overnight fast with bacon, eggs, hash brown potatoes, and a cup of coffee–or at least a bowl of some peculiarly shaped, processed or reconstructed grain product. Good nutritionists know that all these items are more damaging to the system than beneficial.

For a moment, direct your attention to these breakfast cereals. It seems that people’s choices of cereals are based more on the shape, color and taste, than on any nutritional value. Look at the cereal in the marketplace today, and it is surprising what has been done to simple healthy grains. They have puffed, squared, shredded, flaked, frosted, toasted, chexed, cookied, smacked, looped, as well as snapped, crackled and popped into balls, clusters, stars, and honeycombs–some of which are available in every color of the rainbow. And if that isn’t enough to get you to buy them, they have included coupons, prizes and surprises, and other promotional trinkets.

[141] The amazing part of this whole fraud is that they use good wholesome grains, take out the nutrients, and then crunch, smash and bake it into a cereal that has about the same nutritional value as the box it comes in. How amazing that natural nutritional grains are about ten cents a pound, but after mankind has reconstructed, “improved”, and “fortified” them, the cost goes up to $3.00-$4.00 a pound!

It is no wonder the Lord warned His people these things would occur “in consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days.” (D & C 89:4)

It is because of the abundance and influence of this false information on our eating habits that there is such a vital physical need to fast. Instead of blindly following the television commercials, we should read and follow the advice of wise nutritionists who have written worthwhile books. These few dedicated men and women have learned more about nutrition in the last 20 years than we have in the past 2,000. It is now being discovered that “we are what we eat”–which in most cases is incriminating evidence of our stupidity and brain-washing.

As is the case in nearly every field, medicine has strayed far from the wisdom of its founders. Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine”, wrote the following nearly 2500 years ago:

Let your food be your medicine–

Let your medicine be your food.

(The Miracle of Garlic, Airola, p. 10)

The Grape and the Vine

The first miracle of Jesus was changing water into wine, (or the fruit of the vine), and one of His last acts was introducing the sacrament of wine in remembrance of Him:

[142] And when the hour was come, he <Jesus> sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. (Luke 22:14-18)

Then He gave them bread and wine and told His disciples, “This do in remembrance of me.” But He himself would not partake of it again until His kingdom was re-established on the earth. He would fast from that food and drink for about 2,000 years! But we are told to partake of it often in remembrance of Him.

During the restoration of the Gospel to Joseph Smith, Christ again mentioned this:

Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, … <and Elias, John, Elijah, Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Michael (Adam), Peter, James, and John>.

And also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world. Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice. (D & C 27:5, 14, 15)

Imagine what an impressive event this will be! All of the great prophets, patriarchs and saints will gather together at a special banquet with the Savior–at which they will serve grape juice! This will probably be the greatest celebration of the most important people that have lived on this earth, and they will serve the fruit of the vine to celebrate it!

[143] Jesus used the “vine” to represent strength and to symbolize the source from which life and sustenance comes. For that reason He referred to Himself as the vine in the following beautiful parable:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every <branch> that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

I am the vine, ye <are> the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast <them> into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:1-6)

For 2,000 years man has used the fruit of the vine as a sacrament–a spiritual and symbolic reminder of Jesus Christ.

Is it not possible that the Great Physician knew that in this delicate fruit everything was contained necessary for the healing of the body, as well as for the uplifting of the spiritual faculties? (The Grape Cure, Johanna Brandt, p. 140)

If we are to elevate ourselves to the eating standards of the Millennial terrestrial order, we will need to eliminate or at least cut way back on eating the flesh of animals. During the Millennial reign of Christ on earth, no flesh will be eaten. Even the animals such as the lion will change his eating habits. Brigham Young encouraged the Saints to accept such a program even in his day:

If the days of man are to begin to return, we must cease all extravagant living. When men live to the age [144] of a tree, their food will be fruit. Mothers, to produce offspring full of life and days, must cease drinking liquor, tea, and coffee, that their systems may be free from bad effects. If every woman in this Church will now cease drinking tea, coffee, liquor, and all other powerful stimulants, and live upon vegetables, etc., not many generations will pass away before the days of man will again return. But it will take generations to entirely eradicate the influences of deleterious substances. This must be done before we can attain our paradisiacal state, for the Lord will bring again Zion to its paradisiacal state. (JD 8:63-64)

The Commandment of Fasting

Man has developed a system of laws and regulations to govern his society. Some regulations are for convenience or suitability, but are not necessarily punishable if disobeyed. For instance, a regulation might be a sign which says, “Caution– Slippery When Wet”. Obedience to this cautionary warning may prove to be a great benefit by avoiding a mishap, but there is no punishment if disobeyed. On the other hand, if a law has been established and a sign says, “Caution–55 M.P.H.”, then there is a punishment for violating it.

God also has regulations and laws that pertain to His domain. His commandments are His laws, and there are punishments for their violation. One of those commandments reads, “And I give unto you a commandment that you shall continue in prayer and fasting from this time forth” (D & C 88:76), which means that there are blessings or punishments attached to that law.

By comparison, the very next section of the Doctrine and Covenants (Section 89) contains the Word of Wisdom, “to be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint. . .” meaning that this is a regulation or “principle with a promise, [145] adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.” (verse 3). It does not necessarily mean that a Divine punishment would result for disobedience. Infractions could be costly and disadvantageous, but they are regulations pertaining to “temporal salvation”, not necessarily to the spiritual. The Lord said that obedience to these regulations is “pleasing unto Me”, but He included no statements of punishment attached thereto. He very definitely gives promises of certain blessings and opportunities for those who obey this Word of Wisdom, but the admonition in Section 89 is given as a regulation not as a commandment.

So in considering Sections 88 and 89 in the light that they were given: fasting is a commandment, but the Word of Wisdom is a regulation. How unfortunate that we give so much attention to the regulation of the Word of Wisdom, and so little to the commandment of fasting! Sometimes we strain at a gnat and swallow the camel!

Now is the time to make preparations and learn obedience to those laws. and commandments of God. If proper preparations are made and the “flesh is brought into subjection”, glorious happiness can result, as Brigham Young tells us:

Let the spirit reign predominant over the flesh, and bring into subjection the whole man, every feeling and every desire of his heart, and let him be devoted wholly, body and spirit, to the end for which he has been created. When the flesh is brought into subjection, it is made worthy through that means.

So live every morning, noon, and evening, every moment, as to enjoy the Holy Ghost continually. Do not deprive yourselves of this privilege, brethren and sisters; then you can see, hear, and understand, and know things that are of God, the visible and invisible, in heaven and on earth–things past, present, and to [146] come. No power can deprive you of this privilege, and God will bless you, and we will bask in his presence with our Elder Brother, and with all the sons and daughters of Adam who have been redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, to live forever.

What a pleasing thought! What an entrancing idea it would be, if we had the privilege of making a selection of one of the most beautiful locations on this earth, where we could have our grounds, gardens, and walks laid out after the most enchanting and beautiful order, with every variety of trees, with fountains of water, and everything to make us happy and comfortable, with our carriages to ride in, etc., etc., and then live ten thousand millions of years upon that beautiful possession! Still that period of time would ultimately come to an end; and when the last moment had come, the possession ceases to be worth a groat, for it is not eternal. Boundless wealth and the most beautiful possessions cannot give pleasure and happiness of that exquisite and heavenly nature that is not in itself eternal. (JD 8:43)

The commandment of fasting has been given by God to help mankind prepare his “temple” to again present it before the God who gave him that body to begin with. We will each be accountable for what we did with that gift of a mortal body. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body.” (TPJS, p. 181)

After cleansing the body with a fast, there is a clean feeling, much the same as one enjoys after a shower or bath. Proper cleansing should be both internal and external. The body undergoes a reconstruction or regeneration as the liquids of juice do their work of physical and spiritual purification. It is probably better to describe it as a healing process.

[147] Fasting is a time of rest, meditation and revitalizing the body, mind and spirit. No other activity can accomplish such a marvelous process of preparation for this world and the one to come.


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