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Fasting is called a spiritual discipline. A spiritual discipline is an intentional practice used to people to train themselves in worship, devotion to God or the defeat of sin in their life. Other spiritual disciplines include prayer, Bible reading, acts of service, journaling, times of silence, and times of solitude. These practices create space in our lives for us to hear from God and be transformed by him.
Fasting is a discipline that doesn't play a large role in many Christian's lives. However, for the many men who are called the Church Fathers, fasting was a critical component of their faith life. St. Augustine is quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas as saying,
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.
There are many things people choose to fast from. Some fast from food. Some from soda. Some from television or video games or buying new things. "What" exactly you fast from isn't as important as "why" you fast. St. John Cassian once said,
In the same way, fasting, vigils, scriptural meditation, nakedness and total deprivation do not constitute perfection but are the means to perfection. They are not in themselves the end point of a discipline, but an end is attained to through them.
Today I'll spend some time thinking and praying about what the Lord may wish for me to fast during the next 21 days. Then I will set that thing aside and turn my attention not to my lack, but to my gain in Jesus. This is the power that fasting has. Our desire for what we give up is to find its fulfillment in what we have in Christ. Fasting teaches us to rely on God for the fulfillment of all our needs.