Yesterday Nick Norelli wrote about a corporate fast that he is participating in with his church that has led to some weight loss as a side benefit. I thought that it was great that his spiritual discipline could have positive physical benefits, but it got me to thinking about my own engagement with fasting. Fasting is a spiritual discipline which I almost never engage. I think part of my problem is I cannot get my head wrapped around its purpose. I know there are several motivations for others:
(1) Discipline it and of itself.
(2) Solidarity with the poor and suffering of the world who do not have the same abundance.
(3) As a means of showing seriousness about one’s prayer.
(4) As a “weapon” of spiritual warfare.
(5) As a means of mourning, especially as regards the delay of the parousia.
Maybe I am trying to rationalize away something that makes me tired and grouchy and therefore seems to lack any benefit, but I cannot understand discipline in and of itself unless one has a serious addiction to food. I do understand showing solidarity, but then it seems to me to be the equivalent to short terms missions trips. You go, you partake, you go back to normal. As far as prayer and spiritual warfare are concerned I am not sure how not eating contributes. As a means of mourning, I guess my problem is that I have little to mourn or if I observe global problems too much to mourn and after two-thousand years I feel like I lack the same motivation as the early disciples to fast while their Master is away because I guess I don’t have the same sense of the immanency of his return as they did.
So my question is this: “Why do you fast?” What motivates you to do so? What are you “theological” reasons for doing so (e.g. the above list)?