Forty Days in the Desert (Of Lent) - Recap
1. Fasting never comes without repentance and humbling oneself before God. Put another way, repentance and humility is the purpose of fasting and these go hand-in-hand.
2. Repentance and fasting is also connected intimately with preparation for intense prayer and, in that time of prayer, fasting, and repentance, seeking the will of God and preparing for mission.
3. Repentance and fasting and prayer is purifying to the heart (or as the Greek Fathers would say - the nous when done for proper purposes. This seems to result in 'seeing God' or 'knowing the will of God' much like Daniel seeing the Angel who touches him and who learns about the Messiah. Here I think of the Beatitudes: 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' An important caveat here . . . you don't do the 'ritual' to see visions, like some sort of shamanic vision quest. Rather, proper God-ward repentance and humility, prayer and fasting simply opens up our hearts. We should not seek visions. That would be an 'improper purpose.'
4. Finally, repentance-fasting-prayer is a God-blessed means by which we might, to our varying abilities, become as Psalm 50 (LXX) says, that 'contrite and humble heart' that God 'will not despise.' Nevertheless, we recognize as Christians that the truly contrite and humble heart was that One who took on our human nature and was willing to suffer death, even death on a cross. Thus we must take as our model in this as in all things our Lord Jesus the Christ, the Only Begotten Word become flesh.
Having posting 'what I learned' I can only say this is 'book-learnin' as my own efforts at prayer and fasting are as nothing and I struggle and fall, and gains made yesterday often seem swallowed up today. So pray for me, and take my ideas as friendly conversation.