I have another question on fasting. I understand now that we should just not fast when we are sick as we would be breaking the fast to take the medicine. But what do people who always have to take medicine with food do? My grandparents have prescription medicines they have had to take for years. But they still fast. You say to just fast a different day, but they have to take medicine every day. I would like to know more.
The Pharisees were bent on obeying the letter of the law, and were condemned for it. The Savior violated the Jewish law on many occasions–only because the law had been fulfilled in him. But the Pharisees were incensed and sought to put him to death.
We should obey the laws of the gospel by applying judgement and good sense. President Joseph F. Smith said:
A man may fast and pray till he kills himself, and there isn’t any necessity for it; nor wisdom in it. I say to my brethren, when they are fasting, and praying for the sick, and for those who need faith and prayer, do not go beyond what is wise and prudent in fasting and prayer (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p.368).
If a person is required to take medication to maintain his health, it would be foolish for him to deny the medication and suffer dire consequences to adhere to the letter of the law.
Why do we fast in the first place? It seems that there are two principle reasons. One, that by voluntarily depriving the body of food and inducing a feeling of hunger, we learn to subject the demands of the body to the dictates of the spirit. In this way fasting gives us spiritual strength. We may then apply that strength to dominating and controlling other passions and appetites of the body. Two, by giving what we would have spent for food as a fast offering, we are helping to feed those who suffer hunger by necessity rather than by choice.
Your grandparents can easily fulfill the second purpose of fasting by contributing a generous fast offering even if they don’t abstain from food for two meals. Concerning the first purpose, perhaps for them, eating the food necessary to take their medicine would require as much self-discipline as would fasting.