Since I became a Christian one of the doctrines I've never really understood was fasting. The missionaries who taught me the gospel of Jesus Christ neglected to mention this Christian principle to me and it never really sunk in. During my own time as a missionary I struggled with the doctrine of fasting and even refused to teach it at times because I couldn't teach something I didn't believe in. When my missionary companion would fast I would cook a wonderful meal for me.
The issue I had with fasting stems from a misunderstanding of prayer. People I know would fast for this or that. At times it seemed to me that people treated fasting as a trump card. If I prayed for X to happen and it hasn't that means I need to fast and then God will make it happen. This caused me to look at fasting like a proposition. If I starve myself with a purpose God will be obligated to listen to me so that I don't starve to death. So many times fasting seemed to me just to be prayer on steroids. I just couldn't comprehend why God would listen to prayers of half starved people and not listen to the same prayers if the people had a full belly.
This all changed this past week. In Sunday school we were talking about covenants and someone brought up fasting. Immediately talk began to move toward prayer being this magical kind of trump card that turns God into some kind of mythical genie or Santa Claus. As I set in my seat trying to bite my tongue the Holy Spirit illuminated my mind.
Fasting is not a trump card to get God to listen to you or even a way to show God, "Hey I am really serious about this prayer." Rather fasting in its purest form is a way to turn a person's prayers into the kind of prayers they should be. Fasting is a principle that at its very core is transformative. A true fast should imbue the person with greater spirituality, it gives a person the ability to tell the natural man no, while the spiritual person grows toward dominance. During a fast a person should come to an understanding of what God's will is.
It is God's will not our own that we should pray for. We should pray that our hearts be turned towards God's purpose and not our own. When our purpose is contrary to God's such as in praying for someone to get better and God's will is that they graduate to the next world our prayers should be that we ask God to help us accept this calling home or that we can accept their pain and suffering as part of God's will.
Fasting is the required ingredient in this divine recipe that allows a person to be spirituality mature and disciplined enough to pray for the right things. Fasting is what allows a person to better know the mind of God through increased spirituality.
I now know that I can and look forward to fasting.