The practice of fasting has been around for a very, very long time. We first see evidence of it in the Old Testament, where it is used as a natural way of showing sorrow and humility.
"And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession."
– Daniel 9:3-4
How do I fast?
Since fasting is a spiritual practice, it must always be coupled with prayer. Without prayer, you're leaving out all the spirituality and just starving yourself. I personally begin my fast with prayer on a Saturday afternoon, and end on Sunday afternoon with prayer and a family meal. During my fast, I will pray continually in my mind and heart. When hunger pains hit me, that is a good time to remember to get down on my knees in prayer.
What's the benefit of fasting?
As a teenager, the benefit of fasting was always hard to understand. I just saw it as intentionally starving myself! But now that I'm older, and have (hopefully) more mature spiritual eyes, I can see some benefits of fasting.
"They did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."
– Helaman 3:35
This verse explains that fasting and prayer will increase our faith, purify and sanctify our hearts, and increase our humility. When we yield our hearts unto God, we bring our hearts in alignment with the will of our Heavenly Father.
How I know for myself –
I have personally found that fasting and prayer is a way to receive strength from God. Several years ago I was experiencing major temptation. Satan was pounding some horrible ideas into my brain, and I couldn't take it anymore!! I needed to cast Satan and his temptations out of my mind.
"Howbeit, this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."
– Matthew 17:21
Praying about it day in and day out just wasn't working, so I decided to have a personal day of fasting and prayer to plead for God's help. AND IT WORKED!!! The thoughts and feelings left my mind completely, and they have never returned since then. What a blessing that was! This special day increased my faith in the doctrine of fasting, and now I am much more willing to fast when special help is needed from above.
I encourage you to consider having your own special day of fasting and prayer. Think about what you may need special help for from God. Or perhaps you know someone else who is suffering physically, spiritually, or emotionally. Dedicate the day to prayer and fasting. I promise you God is waiting to pour His blessings down upon you as you witness your faith in Him.