“They were hungry enough for God’s leading that they wanted to say it with the hunger of their bodies and not just the hunger of their hearts.”

-John Piper, as quoted in “Fasting: the Ancient Practices”

For my second book from the BookSneeze program (where you get a book free as long as you agree to review it on your blog), I decided to choose Fasting, by Scot McKnight. I know friends that make fasting a regular part of their walk with God. I’ve done 30 Hour Famine with my youth group about… *mentally counts number of shirts* 4 times, but while that gives you an idea of what it’s like to feel hungry, it’s a group event designed to raise money and teach you about world poverty. Excellent, worthy goals, but not the typical goals when you fast.

Since Jesus said, “when you fast” (Matthew 6:1), it seemed to me that fasting should not be an optional or non-existent thing in our spiritual lives.  But how should fasting be done? With what goals in mind – could it be done with wrong motivations? Did it matter if it was a complete, or partial, fast?

So when I saw this book on BookSneeze’s list, I seized the opportunity to learn more on the subject.

Scot McKnight did a great job on this book. It was evident that he had done his research, and was no stranger to fasting – essential for any author on this subject.

McKnight talked about the different faces of fasting, or the different ways it could be approached. He used Biblical references that told of  instances where nations, groups, and/or individuals had fasted.  Many times he also referred to and quoted men throughout history that not only spoke of fasting, but lived the meaning of seeking God with your entire body – from Benedictine monks to Baptist preachers to St. Augustine to John Calvin. This book has some excellent words from all sorts of men from through history, referring to fasting.

Overall, however, I did not find this book enormously… moving? And found as I read on that his message became repetitive. Indeed, you could simply read only the introduction and, without reading further, have the entire book’s message. A good message, I concede, but repeated continuously throughout the book so that each chapter felt like only very slightly different angles on the same message.

Many people believe that fasting will produce results, McKnight wrote. I cannot deny that that was my view. Yet fasting is not an advanced plea to gain something, he continued, but a response to a sacred moment. A moment of intense sorrow and grief, of intense joy, of intense longing for  a nation’s freedom, for another’s salvation, or for God’s own presence – fasting is a whole-body action of expressing that emotion.

But I will not detail the book. I felt that McKnight did a good job of covering this subject and emphasizing that in the end, fasting is a response to a sacred moment that had to be responded to entirely.

This book is rare in that it is written humbly and with a yearning for God central. Other books of this topic would fall under the category of “Self-Help”, claiming to deliver something if you read the book. Miracles, spiritual freedom, or a closer, more intimate relationship with God, perhaps – simply search “fasting” on Amazon to see what I mean.

This book offers no easy ten steps to take, it simply approaches the subject with a quiet frankness. And for that I am grateful.