I remember a time years ago when I longed so intensely to experience God's presence in a fuller measure that I began a fast. The fast ended after two days, but on the following day, I was amazed at the wonderful sense of intimacy with the Holy Spirit. Then I remembered reading that one of the benefits of fasting is the increased communion with God that occurs either during or after a fast.
A key passage in the New Testament about fasting is Luke 5:34-39, in which Jesus says that when He, the bridegroom leaves, they will fast. His disciples were not fasting then because they had His presence with them. Then follows Jesus' words, "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear."
Why did He put that parable following fasting? In the Old Testament fasting was often for repentance. In fact, the only fast specifically commanded was for the Day of Atonement.
In the New Testament, fasting would not be a ceremonial rite. It would be for drawing near Jesus, for seeking His presence in our lives and in the lives of others. Those in Antioch were fasting as a group while ministering to the Lord. (Acts 13:1-3)
I like the way Jesus ended the parable comparing the old way with the new. He said, "And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better'" (Luke 5:39). Indeed it is!
Mark Nysewander in The Fasting Key states, "The newest and greatest purpose for fasting in the kingdom of God is for communion with your absent bridegroom, the exalted Christ."
A friend said she would be fasting for a week. Just before she began the fast, she wrote, "I know I'll have a wonderful time this week with the Lord."
A young man told me, "I think the reason to fast is because you want to feast at a much richer banquet table. The feast for our spirit while we're fasting can be much more rewarding than food for our physical bodies."
Self-denial that pleases the Lord is that done out of love. Fasting is one way we can tell God, "I desire You more than food." Or perhaps we're saying, "I desire Your presence, Your Spirit working in another's life, more than food."
Dear Lord, I fast as You said I would because I would rather have more of Your Spirit in my life than anything else.
"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8).
"My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods" (Psalm 63:5).