Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Book Review: Fasting

One of the book reviewing sites I'm working with is Booksneeze and today's review is a book I received from them.  I was given a copy of the book to review, but am under no obligation to review it favorably. 

Fasting by Scott McKnight

This book is a part of the Ancient Practices Series that the Sabbath book I reviewed comes from.  I enjoyed and was convicted by that one and with Lent on the way, this was a great one to sign on for.  McKnight's book talks about the discipline of fasting, the history of it, the reasons for it and gives examples of different types of fasting.  He breaks down how fasting relates to different aspects of our being in a logical and sensible way.

I've read a great deal about spiritual disciplines, but have, for a variety of terrible reasons, avoided delving much into the world of fasting.  I've not even read up on it much, to be honest, lest I be convicted to make it fit.  I'm not a food addict, but I'm an American.  We don't like anything that even looks remotely like inconvenience and fasting looks terribly inconvenient.  For about 5 or so years, I was constantly pregnant or nursing, and that was my excuse.  Then I started training for marathons, and nutrition is important and that's been my recent excuse.  Before that, the most fasting I had done was for the 30 Hour Famine

McKnight isn't just talking about the giving up of chocolate or facebook or alcohol that so many folks do at Lent.  While he doesn't have a problem with discipline abstinence of certain distractions, he is clear that when the Bible talks about fasting, it means not eating and sometimes it even means not drinking. Knowing that there are many folks who tout fasting as the healthy thing to do and others complain that it's not healthy at all, he spends the entire last chapter talking about fasting and the body. He also reiterates time and time again that we must not fast for results, but rather as a response to a sacred moment in life. Fasting is not primarily a way to add power to our prayer.  It is an act of reverence.

This book has certainly opened my eyes about the importance of the practice of fasting and has convicted me to make a careful effort to add the practice to my life and to beware that I'm fasting with the right motives.  I highly recommend this book to all my Christian friends and family, especially those of you who, like me, haven't really taken fasting seriously in the past.  And even if you have, this may give you an interesting new perspective on it.

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