First posted on “Fast and Pray for a Better Day” Facebook site:

I just finished teaching the “Isaiah” lesson in gospel doctrine class. As I often do, I compare the KJV with other translations to get as wide and as deep an understanding as possible. As I was reading Isaiah 58:5-8 which begins, “is this not the fast which I have chosen . . .” I went to Biblegateway ( to see how this passage would be rendered in today’s English. As I think about next Sunday’s Fast and Testimony Meeting, I find these words challenge me to do more than to go without food: Here’s what Isaiah says about fasting in the Contemporary English Version (CEV):

Do you think the LORD
wants you to give up eating
and to act as humble
as a bent-over bush?
Or to dress in sackcloth
and sit in ashes?
Is this really what he wants
on a day of worship?
I’ll tell you
what it really means
to worship the LORD [on Fast Sunday].
Remove the chains of prisoners
who are chained unjustly.
Free those who are abused!
Share your food with everyone
who is hungry;
share your home
with the poor and homeless.
Give clothes to those in need;
don’t turn away your relatives.

“Wow!” I thought. “Fasting is much more than I thought.” And much harder if this is what the Lord expects. How we fast in the Church is probably like living the Mosaic Law in relation to the new-covenant gospel—we groan when we remember it is Fast Sunday or are glad when we forget! We look at the clock and maybe fudge a couple of hours in ending our fast. We think about food when we should be thinking about the poor. And we give a niggardly fast offering, perhaps the equivalent of a fast-food meal—with a coupon!

What we likely don’t keep in mind is that currently 17 million children in the world, including more than 100,000 Latter-day Saint children, suffer from severe acute malnutrition. Most never have the kind of meal we have as we end our fast. We think about food on Fast Sunday; they think about food all the time.

What can we do? The Liahona Children’s Foundation can provide the nutrition supplements for a child for an entire year for $70. Everyone who reads this blog could probably come up with $70 this year. You could send it to the Foundation and feed one child ( If you do, this is what Isaiah promises:

Then your light will shine
like the dawning sun,
and you
will quickly be healed.
Your honesty will protect you
as you advance,
and the glory of the LORD
will defend you from behind.

Not a bad bargain, that! Fast and Pray—and love.

Robert Rees is Vice-president of the Liahona Children’s Foundation.


Bob Rees holds a BA from Brigham Young University and an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught at UCLA and UC Santa-Cruz and was a Fulbright Professor of American Studies at Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania. Currently he teaches at Graduate Theological Union and the University of California, Berkeley. Rees is the author and editor of numerous studies in the humanities, education and religion. He is the co-editor (with Eugene England) of The Reader’s Bookof Mormon (Signature Books, 2008) and the editor of Proving Contraries: A Collection ofWritings in Honor of Eugene England (Signature, 2005) and Why I Stay: The Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Mormons (Signature, 2011). Currently, he is completing a second volume of Why I Stay and writing a books on Discipleship and Mormons and Gays. Rees has served as a bishop and a member of the Baltic States Mission presidency. He lives in Mill Valley, California.

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