I became serious about regular fasting many months ago when our senior pastor invited us to fast on his behalf as he began a sermon series. The sermon series ended a while back but I have kept the discipline up and have no plans to stop.
A fast is abstaining from food (or something else) in order to draw closer to God. Scripture supports five distinct times in which to fast: during calamity/tragedy; when you need to make an important decision; during spiritual warfare; to enhance intercession; and to repent and turn from personal sin.
"My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God," says Psalm 84:2. The world labels this crying out as 'hunger pain' but it's not really pain, it's discomfort, and there's a difference.
During a fast scripture takes on added clarity because "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) As I suppress and ignore the cries of my hungry flesh I remind myself that it is the Lord Whom I seek. I don't fast in order to get something I want from the Lord. I fast in order to minister to the Lord and demonstrate to Him that He is everything to me.
I have discovered that fasting helps to place a guard and check against the excesses of Western culture. At every turn there is excess food, material goods, visual and print media, luxuries and entertainments of all sorts. All excess is rooted in emptiness. If I'm filled to excess with the things of this world there is little room for Christ. Proverbs 23:2 says to put a knife to my throat to control my fleshly appetites. According to Proverbs 25:28 if I can't rule my own spirit I'm like a city without walls, defenseless and vulnerable. Regular fasting has lessened my appetite for the deceptive delicacies of the world and I can now more easily turn from these things.
In the book of Esther fasting played a vital role in the Lord working a situation out on Esther's behalf and for God's glory. This, too, is what I desire at important junctures of my own life.
I have found a fast not to be a four-letter word but a valuable tool in my spiritual arsenal and the highlight of my spiritual week.