Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. “Lent is a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations.” It ends on Easter Sunday. “The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ—his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial, and resurrection.”
Those who observe the Lenten season will give up something they like or enjoy during the designated forty days. These include sex, alcohol, smoking, meat, social media and TV, in addition to fasting on their own.
At my church, we do not observe Lent per se though we set time aside to fast either for twenty-one or fourteen days before Easter and several times throughout the year. My husband (my pastor) always says that fasting does not change God, neither can we use it to manipulate God; but that when we fast we draw closer to God and it pleases Him when we empty ourselves of food, so we can gain spiritual nourishment.
In Isaiah 58, the children of Israel were perplexed that though they had fasted and prayed God was not answering their prayers. God responded through the prophet that He was not impressed with their fasting and went on to outline for them what He considered true fasting. This included refraining from wickedness, showing kindness, releasing the oppressed, caring for the poor and needy (v.6-7).
By saying this God was not abolishing fasting but saying that fasting is more than surface level holiness. If you abstain from food and persist in wickedness or other forms of sin, your fasting is of no use. So whether you fast during Lent or at any other time, be sure to obey the commands of the Lord as well and stay within His will otherwise your fasting is only skin deep.