Growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, I can’t remember hearing much teaching on fasting. (To be fair, it could be that I wasn’t paying close enough attention!) The first time I was really introduced to it was in my freshman year of college. I didn’t even hear the “prompt” in a sermon; I heard it secondhand from a friend. The main idea was that you give up one meal a day for a certain period of time, or give up one day of eating altogether for the next three weeks. I went with the three week option. Unfortunately, I had no idea what the true heart of fasting was.
So for one day out of the next three weeks, I drank water but did not eat for 24 hours. Looking back, I cannot remember growing spiritually at all from that experience. How sad!
A friend recently recommended this book to me and I’m so glad I read it (p.s. As of now, you can still get it off of Amazon for only .99)! Nelson explains what fasting is not, and what it is. She lays out some of the challenges and how to “successfully” complete a fast. The main idea that she emphasizes over and over again is that God is not pleased with a ritual of not eating. If we fast, thinking that we are somehow earning his favor, all the while doing our own thing, we have completely missed the point (see Zechariah 7-8)! The gospel says that we are forgiven and adopted as one of God’s children SOLELY based on the blood of Jesus, who lived a perfect lived that we should have lived and died the death that we deserve. If anything other than Jesus makes us think that we are somehow pleasing God, we are far from Him.
“Merely ‘not eating’ is dieting, or worse, starvation–it is not fasting…Fasting is giving up something perfectly good and acceptable because you want God more. It is a spiritual discipline with a physical act.”
This book is a great resource for women wanting to explore the discipline of fasting and integrate it into their lives. The author combines spiritual truths with practical advice and celebrates fasting as another discipline of the faith. Just as we walk with God through prayer, Bible study, and worship, we can walk with him in fasting (as he calls us), knowing that it is by grace we have been saved. Praise the Lord!