“The Privilege of Giving a Generous Fast Offering,” Ensign, May 1986, 96
Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care,
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
My roof’s safe shelter overhead,
That he too may be comforted.
(Hymns, 1985, no. 219.)
Fast offerings enable us to share our blessings with others. A minimum donation is the value of the two meals not eaten while fasting. However, President Spencer W. Kimball asked us to give “much, much more—ten times more where we are in a position to do it.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1974, p. 184.)
Fast offerings bring blessings to the needy. A widow with three young children was out of funds and in debt. Her bishop, seeing a crucial need, wrote her creditors—and several substantially reduced her bills. Then, through fast offering funds, other bills were paid. This financial help and subsequent guidance from priesthood leaders restored the family’s self-respect and helped them become self-reliant. Both sons later served missions; all three children later married in the temple. (See Ensign, Feb. 1979, p. 23.)
Blessings also await the giver. Many who pay tithes and offerings testify that the Lord has opened the windows of heaven and poured out blessings unto them. (See Mal. 3:10.)
Some of these blessings are material. After doubling his offerings—motivated by a desire to serve the Lord and help others—one man discovered that “unexpected opportunities started coming to me in my work. After one year my income had significantly increased! We felt this was truly a blessing from the Lord.” (As quoted in Ensign, Feb. 1979, p. 22.)
The prophet Isaiah taught that some of the choicest blessings of a true fast are spiritual:
“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. …
“And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” (Isa. 58:9–11.)
To take greater advantage of the privilege of fasting, you may wish to consider the following ideas.
• Have a home evening lesson on why we fast and give offerings. (For resource material, see conference addresses on fasting in this issue, pp. 29–31; see also Family Home Evening Resource Book, Gospel Principles, and Hymns, 1985.)
• Encourage—but never force—your children to fast. Some parents encourage their children to fast one meal a month when they turn eight, and then two meals a month when they turn twelve.
• Choose a specific purpose for your next fast, discussing the faith involved. Begin and end your fast with prayer.
• Attend fast and testimony meeting as a family on fast Sunday.
• Occasionally fast together at times other than on fast Sunday.
• Teach the importance of “feasting” on the word of Christ during a fast—studying the scriptures and the words of modern prophets, discussing the gospel, singing hymns, serving others, and praying. Those who are unable to fast (such as young children, the sick, or expectant and nursing mothers) can also join in the spirit of the fast in this way.
• Urge your children—young and old—to contribute fast offering; even a small amount can bring joy.
• Although fast offerings may be given to the bishop along with tithing, consider giving it in the fast offering envelopes delivered by the Aaronic Priesthood. In this way, contributing becomes a family project.
• Ponder and discuss the encouragement to contribute “much, much more” than the cost of two meals.
• Teach your family to give offerings willingly and cheerfully, recognizing that giving grudgingly profits nothing. (See Moro. 7:6–8.)