Why do we hold fast and testimony meeting on the first Sunday of the month? For half a century, beginning in the 1830s, fast and testimony meetings convened on Thursday, following a practice approved by the Prophet Joseph Smith. No written directive or explanation can be found that explains why that day of the week came to be used. In latter-day revelation, the Lord commands the Saints to “continue in prayer and fasting”. Revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith linked prayer and fasting in two contexts—one with Sabbath observance and the other with anticipated worship in the Kirtland Temple. In combining prayer and fasting, the Lord restored a practice enjoyed by faithful people in earlier dispensations. References to fasting in the Old Testament, New Testament, and Book of Mormon emphasize the purposes of fasting: drawing closer to the Lord and seeking special blessings from him through prayer.
How was the Sabbath kept during Joseph Smith’s lifetime? Have we borrowed Sabbath ideas from others? What kinds of public worship services took place before we had spacious, temperature-controlled meetinghouses? Why were priesthood meetings shifted from weeknights to Sunday? Why was fast day changed from the first Thursday to the first Sunday of each month? How has administration of the sacrament varied? How have previous generations defined proper and improper Sabbath conduct? The answers to such questions reveal that today’s busy Mormon Sabbath differs in some particulars from Sabbath routines of previous generations.