- To show penitence - We may fast to show a penitent spirit as they did in the Old Testament. It seems Saul of Tarsus did this (Acts 9:9).
- To control and discipline our lives - It is easy to become almost self-indulgent. Fasting can help us become masters over our wishes and desires. Fasting and prayer can keep us from being slaves to the wrong things (2 Timothy 1:7).
- To emphasize spiritual things - Fasting coupled with prayer can teach us the ability to do without things and live contented lives. In this world of materialism, it is easy to put our emphasis in the wrong places. Fasting and prayer can help straighten out our priorities (Luke 4:2-4).
- To show our hunger for God and our desire for His guidance - When a person fasts it shows they are truly hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matthew 5:6; Acts 13:2-3; 14:23).
We have already said the New Testament does not require disciples of Jesus to fast; however, fasting does have some spiritual benefit. Fasting and prayer is the pattern throughout the New Testament. It has been observed you can pray without fasting, but you cannot fast biblically without praying. Here is a relevant question: What is the value of fasting today?