Augustine of Hippo
Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself.
Let us say something about fasting, because many, for want of knowing its usefulness, undervalue its necessity, and some reject it as almost superfluous; while, on the other hand where the use of it is not well understood, it easily degenerates into superstition. Holy and legitimate fasting is directed to three ends; for we practice it either as a restraint on the flesh, to preserve it from licentiousness, or as a preparation for prayers and pious meditations, or as a testimony of our humiliation in the presence of God when we are desirous of confessing our guilt before him.
We don’t fast to earn something; we fast to make a connection with our supernatural God, We are cleaning out the “pipe” that connects us to the anointing of God.
A fast is not a hunger strike. Fasting submits to God’s commands. A hunger strike makes God submit to our demands.
Of course we are meant to eat, and even to feast, but only when we fast do we make real progress toward being free of our dependence on food to soothe our depression and anesthetize our anxieties.
The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2017), 37.
Wesley L. Duewel
Fasting in the biblical sense is choosing not to partake of food because your spiritual hunger is so deep, you determination in intercession so intense, or your spiritual warfare so demanding that you have temporarily set aside even fleshly needs to give yourself to prayer and meditation.
David Brainerd prayed with fasting for the Lord’s leadership regarding his entry into ministry. He said of his experience during that day, “I felt the power of intercession for precious, immortal souls; for the advancement of the kingdom of my dear Lord and Saviour in the world; and withal, a most sweet resignation and even consolation and joy in the thoughts of suffering hardships, distresses, and even death itself, in the promotion of it…. My soul was drawn out very much for the world, for multitudes of souls. I think I had more enlargement for sinners than for the children of God, though I felt as if I could spend my life in cries for both. I enjoyed great sweetness in communion with my dear Saviour. I think I never in my life felt such an entire weanedness from this world and so much resigned to God in everything.
Ed. by Philip E. Howard Jr., The Life and Diary of David Brainerd, Moody Press, 1949, p. 81.
One way to begin to see how vastly indulgent we usually are is to fast. It is a long day that is not broken by the usual three meals. One finds out what an astonishing amount of time is spent in the planning, purchasing, preparing, eating, and cleaning up of meals.
Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security and, as a consequence, benefits someone else, if it helps us cultivate the style of the good Samaritan, who bent down to his brother in need and took care of him.
The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things.
Even Jesus who is the Lord of Lords and the king of kings fasted and prayed in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. How much more we need to do the same with all our sinfulness and baggage’s.
Although these abstinences give some pain to the body, yet they so lessen the power of bodily appetites and passions, and so increase our taste of spiritual joys, that even these severities of religion, when practiced with discretion, add much to the comfortable enjoyment of our lives.
A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.
This Man (Jesus) suddenly remarks one day, ‘No one need fast while I am here.’ Who is this Man who remarks that His mere presence suspends all normal rules?
Of fasting I say this: It is right to fast frequently in order to subdue and control the body. For when the stomach is full, the body does not serve for preaching, for praying, or studying, or for doing anything else that is good. Under such circumstances God’s Word cannot remain. But one should not fast with a view to meriting something by it as by a good work.
Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps
express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.
Fasting isn’t about inflicting pain upon our bodies and it’s not about removing sin from our lives- the latter would be repentance and should not be limited to a season. Biblical fasting is a withholding of things- good things-that have taken a too-important role in our lives. Fasting is about dependence.
Why do we fast as disciples of Jesus? Because our souls feast on the glory of God. Fasting is an external expression of an internal reality. When we fast for a meal or a day or a week, we remind ourselves that more than our stomachs long for the pleasure of food, our souls long for the presence of God. We are satisfied in Him and by Him in a way that nothing in this world can compare to – not even the basic daily necessity of food. Fasting makes sense as a discipline in the Christian life only if it is connected with desire for Christ. When we fast, we say, “More than we want our hunger to cease, we want your Kingdom to come!”
Cornelius Plantinga Jr.
Self-indulgence is the enemy of gratitude, and self-discipline usually its friend and generator. That is why gluttony is a deadly sin. The early desert fathers believed that a person’s appetites are linked: full stomachs and jaded palates take the edge from our hunger and thirst for righteousness. They spoil the appetite for God.
By fasting, the body learns to obey the soul; by praying the soul learns to command the body.
Silouan the Athonite
By obedience a man is guarded against pride. Prayer is given for the sake of obedience. The grace of the Holy Spirit is also given for obedience. This is why obedience is higher than prayer and fasting.
In Shansi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spend time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, which requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a Divinely appointed means of grace. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are-dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon.
Feed prayers on fasting.
Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees. Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down.
Donald S. Whitney
Fasting can be an expression of finding your greatest pleasure and enjoyment in life from God. That’s the case when disciplining yourself to fast means that you love God more than food, that seeking Him is more important to you than eating. This honors God and is a means of worshiping Him as God. It means that you stomach isn’t your god as it is with some (Philippians 3:19). Instead it is God’s servant, and fasting proves it because you’re willing to sublimate its desires to those of the Spirit.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 1991, NavPress, p.176.
Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in Him a source of sustenance beyond food.