I’ve always learned from your answers and think you can help me with a concern of mine. For health reasons I am unable to miss even one meal. A counselor in my ward Relief Society presidency told me that fasting doesn’t necessarily mean skipping meals. I can just cut back on what I normally eat during the day and that counts too. Is she correct?
The best way to discover an answer to our questions is to first seek out two sources: scripture references and modern day words from our prophets. In relation to what a fast is, let’s review together the following sources.
“Fasting, a voluntary abstinence from food, is a principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ for developing spiritual strength; it has always existed among true believers.”
“Members of the Church may fast at any time as they have a need, but the fast contemplated on the day referred to as fast day, as defined by President Joseph F. Smith, “is that food and drink are not to be partaken of for twenty-four hours, ‘from even to even.’” From even to even has been given the meaning of going without two meals—from the evening meal on the night before to evening meal on fast day.”
“To fast is to go without food and drink voluntarily for a certain period of time. Fasting combined with sincere prayer can help you prepare yourself and others to receive God’s blessings.”
As pertaining to this question, I believe this answers our question pertaining to the definition of a fast, and what a fast actually means. At times, in order to not offend, we may soft-coat a principle of truth which doesn’t do us, nor the hearer, any favors.
However, what about your circumstance? What does a member do when they are in a position that fasting harms more than it helps, and they have been counseled by doctors not to fast? In these cases, I love the Prophet Joseph Smith’s quote, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” We have been taught a principle, by which we govern ourselves. We know what the doctrine and principle are, and we know that we have the wonderful opportunity to approach a loving Heavenly Father ourselves with our current situation. Instead of speaking with the counselor, counsel with the Lord yourself, and then act in accordance with the feelings the Lord presents you with.