Chocolate, alcohol, twitter, social networking, school, swearing, sweets, soda, chips, and fast food. That's the top ten from twitter according to Open Bible's processing of twitter's firehose of personal data. But, why? Why do Christians fast from things for lent?
In the Old Testament, fasting was often a sign of mourning (as were ashes) which is part of what is going on during Lent. Lent is a time of self-examination as we prepare for Easter. Part of that self-examination is the discovery of (and hopefully turning from) sin. Since sin separates us from God, it is worth mourning,; hence, the first reason for fasting.
However, fasting has another aspect: through it we focus on God and on our spirit. Fasting helps us remember that we are more than our bodies. We are more than the sum of all our desires and whims, and we are definitely more than our sins. Taking time to let go of something that we desire, or some practice that often ends in sin, we refocus our spirits and live on God.
Hopefully, we do not merely stop doing something but replace something. The idea of this sort of fasting is to replace something (like maybe watching three or four reality television shows every night) with something that draws us closer to God like reading the Bible, praying, or creating something beautiful.
So, that's why. Christians try to be intentional during lent about letting go of sin, disciplining our mind and souls, and growing closer to God.
I have witten several other articles on lent and Ash Wednesday if you are interested in more:
Question for the Comments: What are You Giving Up for Lent?