Does fasting more than once in a month require a fast offering to be beneficial or valid before the Lord? I’m talking about fasting for health reasons to overcome a chronic disease or illness. Also, someone may feel a reason to fast for another special reason in addition to the monthly fast. Do extra fasts require a fast offering?
You have asked a very interesting question. I am certain more people have thought about this issue and I am happy to provide some guidance. After pondering and praying about this question, I have been impressed to mention that Heavenly Father is pleased with His children whom observe this Law.
The Law of fasting is three fold in purpose. For obvious reasons, the care of the needs of the poor is of great importance. Fast and Offerings serve to do just that.
In the gospel essentials manual, we read:
The Savior Jesus Christ taught that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. As we sacrifice and serve others as the Savior did, both the givers and receivers are blessed with compassion, empathy, and love that lead to exaltation and eternal life.
Bishop Dean M. Davies taught that “caring for the poor and needy is a fundamental gospel doctrine and an essential element in the eternal plan of salvation” (“The Law of the Fast: A Personal Responsibility to Care for the Poor and Needy,” Oct. 2014 general conference).
The scriptures are replete with this command to serve others.
“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” (Deuteronomy 15:11).
Fasting and fast offerings are one way to help care for the poor and the needy.
“The Lord has established the law of the fast and fast offerings to bless His people and to provide a way for them to serve those in need (see Isaiah 58:6–12; Malachi 3:8–12). When members fast, they are asked to give to the Church a fast offering at least equal to the value of the food they would have eaten. If possible, they should be generous and give more. Blessings associated with the law of the fast include closeness to the Lord, increased spiritual strength, temporal well-being, greater compassion, and a stronger desire to serve” (Handbook 2, 6.1.2). (emphasis added)
So, if we follow this counsel, any time we fast, we should give offerings to the church at least equal to the amount of the food we would have eaten during that time period. However, if we are able to, we need to be generous in our offerings. It is important to mention that if we are to fast more than once a month, it is prudent to do so with the utmost respect and devotion to do the will of The Father.
Now, you have asked that if someone fasts for “another special reason” (would) an extra fast required “extra” offering? The response I would be inclined to give you is yes. Notwithstanding, it is totally up to you.
At the beginning, I mentioned that the Law of Fast and Offerings is three-fold: to assist in providing for the poor and needy, for greater physical health benefits and to test our faith (in other words, to increase our humility and spirituality).
I would like to skip over the physical benefits and dive straight into the latter part; increasing humility and spirituality.
You see, when we are humble and more spiritually in-tuned, we’d notice that there would be no need to fast “more often”.
President Joseph F. Smith said the following:
“There is such a thing as overdoing. A man may fast and pray till he kills himself; and there isn’t any necessity for it; nor wisdom in it. … The Lord can hear a simple prayer, offered in faith, in half a dozen words, and he will recognize fasting that may not continue more than twenty-four hours, just as readily and as effectually as He will answer a prayer of a thousand words and fasting for a month. … The Lord will accept that which is enough, with a good deal more pleasure and satisfaction than that which is too much and unnecessary” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1912, 133–34).
To conclude, I need to mention this also, just as much as fasting is a form of a humble plead to the Lord, for assistance in our every need, we must do so asking that the Will of the Lord be done. Let me repeat that, when we come to the Lord in prayer, and ask Our Heavenly Father in prayer for a specific purpose, we need to ask that the Will of God be done. Nothing is guaranteed and/or given. Yes, our Faith is crucial and our humility determines the level of response, but, we must accept the fact that Our Father in Heaven is wise and is lovingly guiding us through this journey here on earth and that IF we Fast and our illness, chronic disease, or any given health reason isn’t “cured”, then we need not doubt in God. His timing is perfect and we ought to trust that. Fasting more often does not equate to having ‘more faith’! “The Lord will accept that which is enough, with a good deal more pleasure and satisfaction than that which is too much and unnecessary”
I hope I was able to articulate clearly your answer and please, do know that we appreciate you for reading our page.