What is the goal of Asceticism (mainly fasting)? Asceticism is concerned with the inner transformation of the human person. We are all created in the image and likeness of God. God is free and He gives us free will. We fell under the law of sin and became enslaved to our environment. In order to restore His image in us which includes having a free will, we have to get rid of all the things that have authority over us. We have to break that enslavement. Fasting is the freeing of the will of man. It is basically saying nothing in this entire world will have control over me. Christ showed us how it is done by fasting 40 days and nights.
It is not only about food. It is about everything that has control over us that gets in the way of our relationship with God. It is about sin, lust, TV, social media, jealousy, envy, gluttony and so forth. Fasting from food is emphasized because controlling the stomach is the entry to controlling all the other passions. The devil deceived Eve in the garden through eating of the forbidden fruit. We must also begin the work of our restoration through control of our consumption of food but that is only the beginning. Fasting is the restoration of man into the full image of God.
So what we are saying is nothing will come between us and our relationship with God. Fasting will lead us to becoming truly free if done in relationship with God. Christ has an absolute free will. Out of His own will, He sacrificed Himself. So in order to grow to the full stature of the image of Christ, we truly have to be free people. And so fasting is the restoration of this free will in us. If fasting becomes ritualistic, then it stops becoming relational. It stops being developmental. We are not developing our humanity to become like Christ, if it is just ritualistic. We will not be developing that sort of relationship that no matter what happens in the world, we will continue to have a relationship with God.