Many people think of fasting as an exercise in healthy living or physical restoration. While those are true and indeed useful, I believe they are the side-effects, not the real purpose of biblical fasting.
There are two biblical examples I want to use to illustrate my point. The first is the fast of Jesus in the wilderness. The second is his statement to his disciples about their failure to free a person from a troublesome possession.
Jesus in the Wilderness
Jesus did not enter into his forty day fast for physical health reasons. Scripture says it had an entirely different purpose.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1
He was preparing himself to do battle with our/his enemy. Scripture tells us he ate nothing during those days. In order for us to know he ate nothing (but obviously drank water), it would have to be stated as such. What did not need stating, since he was in the wilderness, was that he was alone. He was, in effect, on a fast from everything: no interaction, conversation, even visual stimuli given by others. This fasting, this total isolation from all distractions, helped him to focus. He was able to concentrate on the purpose of the Holy Spirit, which was to prepare him to face the devil, to make him like his brethren, to be tempted in all things. He who knew no sin would be tempted with the allure of sin while physically weak, yet spiritually strong.
Dealing with Difficult Demonic Possession
He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29 (Note:Some manuscripts omit fasting.)
When doing battle, preparation is always significant, and fasting has its place when fighting against a particularly difficult spiritual adversary. I would argue for my expanded meaning of fasting here, especially when that fasting is done as preparation for dealing with evil. This perfectly follows on the first example of Jesus in the wilderness.
Fasting focuses spiritual power, giving strength (where less is more) to meet the challenge.
Jesus fasted regularly, going off by himself to pray and be alone with the Father. He not only did not eat; he did not interact with others, except for God, the one from whom we never fast, for in Him we live and move and have our being.
These thoughts on fasting are slowly developing as this month I hope to put some of them into action. I have created a category for fasting and all of the posts that have any relation to the subject can be found there.
Grace and peace and may God use your fasting to bring you closer to His will for you.