Caring for the poor and needy — which includes the law of the fast — is a fundamental gospel doctrine and an essential element in the eternal plan of salvation, Bishop Dean M. Davies declared during the priesthood session of general conference.
Bishop Davies, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, identified that gospel element as “one of four divinely appointed Church responsibilities that help individuals and families qualify for exaltation (the others being to help members live the gospel of Christ, to gather Israel through missionary work and to enable the salvation of the dead by building temples and performing vicarious ordinances).
“Caring for the poor and needy contemplates both temporal and spiritual salvation,” Bishop Davies explained. “It includes the service of individual Church members as they personally care for the poor and needy, as well as formal Church welfare, which is administered through priesthood authority.”
Central to the Lord’s plan for caring the needy is the law of the fast, Bishop Davies noted.
“Faithful Church members everywhere assist by fasting each month — abstaining from food and water for 24 hours — and then giving to the Church a financial fast offering equal to at least the value of food they would have eaten.”
He quoted Isaiah 58:6-7 relative to fasting and said its teachings should be considered and taught in every home.
“Brethren,” he said, “members of the Church are a covenant-making, commandment-keeping people. I cannot think of any law, any commandment, which, if kept faithfully, is easier to keep and which provides greater blessings than the law of the fast. When we fast and give an honest fast offering, we contribute to the Lord’s storehouse what would have been expended on the cost of the meals. It does not require monetary sacrifice in excess of what would be expended normally.”
He said the law of the fast applies to all Church members and that young children can be taught to fast, beginning with one meal and then two, as they are able to understand and physically keep the law.
Church members should begin a fast with prayer while seeking the Lord’s blessings, and complete fulfillment occurs when a fast offering is made to the Lord’s agent, the bishop, he said.
Bishop Davies invited listeners to become more like the Savior by caring for the poor and needy, keeping the law of the fast and contributing a generous fast offering.