Suddenly, I understood why the monastic tradition in every religion insists on asceticism. To concentrate on the spiritual, the monks and nuns strictly discipline their physical lives.
They narrow their lives down by staying in one place. They take vows of poverty so they are unconcerned about the accumulation of wealth. They take vows of obedience so they can be unworried about personal choices. They discipline their bodies through fasting so their minds can open up the realities of the spiritual realm.
This is the main reason why we are expected to fast: to discipline our physical appetites in order to concentrate on the spiritual realm.
Fasting combined with prayer is a powerful force in our lives because, through it, we combine physical discipline with spiritual discipline.
God made us to be physical-spiritual hybrids, and we combine the spiritual and the physical — as we do in the sacraments — and in prayer and fasting, it means we are operating at full capacity.
Besides contributing to the National Catholic Register, Fr. Longenecker also has a personal blog called Standing On My Head.