“Purpose of fasting”: Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

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    By Emily Smurthwaite

    On a day that would normally be a Fast Sunday, Elder Joseph B. Wirthin, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained the importance of fasting.

    In the Sunday afternoon session of general conference, Elder Wirthlin said fasting helps people live the first two commandments: love the Lord and love thy neighbors.

    Elder Wirthlin said that as people live the law of the fast they not only draw nearer to God in prayer, but they also feed the hungry and needy.

    “When we fast … we feel hunger and, for a short time, we put ourselves in the position of the hungered and needy,” he said.

    If people have the means to help those in need but do not aid them, Elder Wirthlin said, those people are in danger of loving substance more than loving the poor.

    “As members of the church, we have a sacred responsibility to assist those in need,” he said.

    Elder Wirthlin encouraged members to live the law of the fast and contribute a generous fast offering, in order to bless the lives of those in need.

    “Far too many … experience want each day. They hunger, they ache with cold … these people are children of our Heavenly Father,” he said.

    People are also encouraged to fast whenever they need special fortification, Elder Wirthlin said.

    “Fasting and prayer can help develop within us character and confidence,” he said.

    Elder Wirthlin also pointed out that in the scriptures, fasting is almost always linked with prayer. Fasting brings blessing, including fortification and control; it opens the windows of heaven, he said.

    Elder Wirthlin said the deacons in the church have a sacred obligation to go to the homes to collect the fast offerings. Additionally, parents should teach their children about the importance of fasting, especially through example.

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