Fasting is a Spiritual Discipline. Like all Spiritual Disciplines it causes us to grow stronger much like the act of dipping a tea bag in water. The more you dip a tea bag, the stronger the taste of tea. Likewise the more we practice the spiritual disciplines the stronger we grow spiritually. Spiritual disciplines pave the way for us to be formed more like Jesus.
The danger is that we would become legalistic, in other words forgetting that this is all about relationship with Jesus. Spiritual Disciplines are a means to an end, they are not the desired end in and of themselves. For instance prayer is communication with God. Our desired end result is not so much the act of prayer as much as how the act of prayer as communication with God develops our relationship with Him.
My wife Kathy and I are always working to improve our communication as a married couple. However, we realize that our communication is not our relationship. It is a tool to develop and enhance our relationship.
The Biblical discipline of fasting is a tool for developing and enhancing our relationship with God. Fasting in scripture was normally a time or abstaining from food to focus on God and spiritual life.
The truth is that we as a society are obsessed with food. It is impossible to drive one block in most cities or towns without seeing one of our favorite fast food restaurants. Many would argue that we have a fast food addiction as a nation. There are support groups for people who cannot control their eating habits. It is natural to eat; therefore it seems unnatural to fast, even strange to some.
Yet Jesus said to His followers in Matt. 6:16: “…when you fast”. Notice that Jesus had an assumption, even and expectation that His followers would fast for the sake of spiritual growth.
It’s not a command. You can still be a Jesus follower and not fast. However, the benefits of fasting, like any spiritual discipline, can be likened to dipping a tea bag in water: the more we fast the more we will become like Jesus….discovering His will, and His purposes.