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So... What is fasting?

In response to my post on Lent someone asked about fasting.  What is it?   

Pastor Blake,

Thank you for this! Very informative and helpful information. I have a novice question... What IS fasting, traditionally? Is it abstaining from all food? Just meat? Anything you'll miss? Is it from Sun up to Sun down, or 24/7? And is the point to remind us to pray? Pray about what specifically? I've always heard the term, but never understood what it really is, or really how to implement it, whether during Lent or some other time... And wondered if much of it is up to the individual or if there is a a general traditional way fasting.

Dear friend, 

Fasting is the voluntary abstinence from some activity to remind you to depend upon God through prayer.

You can fast from anything: alcohol, food, chocolate, sex, soda, whatever. A practical way to fast during Lent is to take some object that you like a lot (in my case, chocolate or caffeine) and let your cravings for it drive you to pray that God would give you the same desire for Him that you have for that.  In the weeks before Easter this can help prepare you to celebrate the resurrection! Alternatively, you can begin practicing fasting by abstaining from all food for a short period of time (and it's a good time to check in with your doctor if you choose to not eat for more than 24 hours). So, for instance, try a 24 hour fast where you eat dinner but pray during breakfast and lunch the following day. Then break the fast over dinner.

The point is to drive you to pray more, and more intensely lead you to depend upon your Savior who abstained from sin so that we could enjoy eternal life with Him.

Pastor Blake