“Food is good. But God is better. We meet God in his good gifts and turn every enjoyment into worship with thanksgiving. But from time to time we need to test ourselves to see if we’ve begun to love his gifts in place of God.” “Fasting is an intensification of prayer. It’s a physical exclamation point at the end of the sentence, ‘We hunger for you, oh God, to come in power.’ It’s a cry with our body, not just our soul: ‘I really mean it, Lord! I hunger for you. I want the manifestation of you yourself more than I want food.’”
“Christian fasting, at its root, is a hunger for God”
May our fasting be a joyful preferring of God over all our other desires. Our great God is most satisfying and in Him we have atonement and everything we need.
In answer to the question of is it appropriate for a congregation to fast together he writes, “Matthew 6:1–18 begins with the warning ‘Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them.’ The point of the whole section is not that public righteousness ‘before other people’ is bad, but that doing it ‘to be seen by them’ is bad. This is confirmed by the fact that even though he said, ‘when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your father who is in secret,’ nevertheless he himself practiced public prayer… Being seen fasting and fasting to be seen are not the same thing.”
“It is possible to do extraordinary fasting and yet not humble ourselves, pray, seek God, and turn from wickedness. (Jeremiah 14:12, Zechariah 7:5, Isaiah 58:3)”
The book up to this point was excellent and helped me orient myself for a proper fast, but I found even greater gold in his chapter on Isaiah 58:1-12 entitled “A different fast for the sake of the poor”. He notes the parallels between this passage and the words of Jesus in Luke 4:18 and Matthew 25:35–36. He argues that what God desires from us is that we not only afflict our souls with a fast on one day, but that we afflict ourselves in order to relieve the affliction of others as a way of life. We must deny ourselves for the benefit of others. (Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:24-26; Philippians 2:3-4) We can say no to many of our desires in order that we can be a part of God’s work throughout the world. May we be those who pour out their lives in service to those around us so that they too may find the atonement that comes only from the perfect sacrifice who laid down His life and bore the wrath we deserved.
Again I highly recommend A Hunger for God to you. You can even download the PDF of the whole book for free here. http://www.desiringgod.org/books/a-hunger-for-god It will be worth your time.