Do you know why Christians fast? As far as I know, most religions fast. The Muslims have Ramadan, the Jews have Yom Kippur, and the Brahmans, a high cast of India, have several fasting days for different reasons. Some people have even used fasting for political reasons or as a diet, but why do we fast?
Before we discuss the answer to that question, let me list a few reasons why Christians should not fast.
We should refrain from fasting to get our prayers answered. Some believers fast to convince God to say yes to their petitions. This fasting is not biblical, and it is unnecessary. God loves to bless His people, and our sacrifices do not move Him. Surrendered hearts full of faith in His promises move God. Please never fast to vend God’s hand.
We should never fast as a religious ritual. Many people, for example, fast every New Year not because they feel led by God to fast but because of traditions or because they feel pressured by their friends or churches. This type of fasting is very close to the fasting the Pharisees would do, and God hated such fasting. (I am not saying not to fast at the beginning of the year. What I am is we must do it for the right reasons.)
We should refrain from fasting unless we understand why we are doing it and set time aside to seek God. Some people abstain from food or from, using their phones, watching TV, etc., for some time but do not change their daily routine or dedicate any time to seek the presence of God. That is either a diet or an exercise in discipline, but not a biblical fast.
Please do not worry if you are guilty of fasting, as mentioned above. Be proud of the fact that at least you fasted and that your intentions were good. Most of us fasted that way because we did not know what we were doing was wrong, but now that we know better, let us do better.
Then, why should Christians fast? Jesus fasted, among other things, in preparation to start His ministry (Luke 4:2-4). The New Testament Church fasted to seek direction from God (Acts 13:2-4 and Acts 14:23), and Jesus and the church fasted for what I think is the best reason to fast. They fasted because they were hungry after God.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
Psalm 42:1 (NIV)
In our materialistic, self-centered, stressed-out world, fasting helps us keep our souls focused on God and our spirits satisfied in His presence. By setting food aside for a period and focusing on our dependence on God instead, we allow ourselves time to focus on our spiritual needs, which only God can satisfy. Once we start fasting for the right reasons, we discover that the more we hunger after God, the easier it is to satisfy our emotional and physical needs. Christians, therefore, should fast to increase our hunger for God.