Sunday, January 7, 2018

President Henry B. Eyring on fasting and bearing testimony

President Henry B. Eyring (born May 31, 1933) served in the Presiding Bishopric from 1985-1992, as a Seventy from 1992-1995, then was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He has served in the First Presidency since 2007.
"In every ward and branch in the Church, once a month we hold a fast and testimony meeting. We fast for two meals. With the money saved, and adding more to it whenever we can, we pay a generous fast offering. The bishop and the branch president use those offerings, under inspiration, to care for the poor and the needy. Thus, by paying a fast offering we give comfort to those in need of comfort as we promised that we would.
"The fast also helps us to feel humble and meek so that the Holy Ghost may more easily be our companion. By our fast, we both keep our covenant to care for others and we prepare to keep our covenant to bear testimony.
"Those who have prepared carefully for the fast and testimony meeting won't need to be reminded how to bear testimony should they feel impressed to do it in the meeting. They won't give sermons or exhortations or travel reports or try to entertain as they bear witness. Because they will have already expressed appreciation to people privately, they will have less need to do it publicly. Neither will they feel a need to use eloquent language nor to go on at length.
"A testimony is a simple expression of what we feel. The member who has fasted both for the blessing of the poor and for the companionship of the Spirit will be feeling gratitude for the love of God and the certainty of eternal truth. Even a child can feel such things, which may be why sometimes the testimony of a child so moves us and why our preparation of fasting and prayer produces in us childlike feelings.
"That preparation for the fast and testimony meeting is a covenant obligation for members of the Church....
"The fruit of keeping covenants is the companionship of the Holy Ghost and an increase in the power to love. That happens because of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change our very natures."
- Henry B. Eyring, "Witnesses for God," General Conference, October 1996
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

To "comfort those that stand in need of comfort" and to "bear one another's burdens" are part of the covenants we make at baptism (see Mosiah 18:8-10). President Eyring sees our fasting and fast offerings as responding to those promises.

But even more significant, I love the thought that we are better prepared to receive the Holy Ghost as a companion when we feel the humility and meekness that come from fasting; and that leads to a greater desire to share our testimony with others.

So President Eyring suggests that proper preparation naturally leads to proper testimony, as we are inspired to share our knowledge and understanding of eternal truth. And preparing in the right way is another of our "covenant obligations" as Church members. We are blessed as we ponder our covenants and strive more fully to fulfill them; covenant keeping opens the door for "the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change our very natures" which then enables us to love more and feel more of the Holy Spirit's companionship. Those are glorious promises, and should increase our eagerness to fulfill the fundamental obligations of fasting, sharing, and testifying.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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