Why Do People Fast for Religious Reasons?

Religious fasting is meant to focus on the relationship with God, to purify the self and to free the mind. Catholics, for example, fast as a means of controlling fleshly desires, seeking penance for sins and to experience solidarity with the poor.

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, fasting is meant to strengthen one's resistance to gluttony and to open a person to God's grace. In the Hindu tradition, fasting is also a means for purification and is sometimes considered a sacrifice.

Jewish people have several holidays that include fasting to atone for sins and to make special requests to God. Mormons fast to achieve closeness to God and to concentrate on God and religion. Additionally, Mormons may fast to petition for a specific cause, such as guidance with a difficult decision or healing for someone who is sick.