“He Caused That the Priests Should Assemble Themselves Together and They Began to Fast”

Alan C. Miner

According to Stephen Ricks, spontaneous fasting, both in public and in private, for a specific purpose, is attested several times in the Book of Mormon and in the Old Testament. When Alma the Younger lay speechless and paralyzed, his father assembled the priests "to fast, and to pray to the Lord their God that he would open the mouth of Alma, that he might speak" (Mosiah 27:22-23; see also Alma 10:7). Similarly, in the Old Testament we find that David "fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth" as he prayed to the Lord to spare the life of his first son by Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:16ff.; for other examples of petitionary fasting see Nehemiah 1:4; Psalms 35:13; 69:10; 109:24; Daniel 6:18; 9:3). Ester 4:16 provides an instance of communal petitionary fasting, and accounts of public petitionary fasting are found in Judges 20:26; 2 Chronicles 20:3; Ezra 8:21, 23; Jeremiah 14:12; 36:6, 9. [Stephen D. Ricks, "Fasting in the Book of Mormon and the Bible" in The Book of Mormon: The Keystone Scripture, p. 130] [For a listing and description of all references to fasting in both the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon, see the commentary illustrations for Alma 45:1; see also the commentary on Helaman 9:10; Alma 17:3, 9]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary