Book Review: FASTING by Scot McKnight

I read this book because our church has this annual 7-day prayer and fasting every first week of January. I pretty much had a list of the things that I wanted to pray about when the author, Scot McKnight, jolted me with the word “repentance.” For some weird reason, this word never crossed my mind in the last few days when I was preparing to fast. I was so consumed with my wants that I forgot to think about what God wants from me.

McKnight also clarified something that has been bugging me for years- the Biblical definition of fasting. I often hear some people say that they are fasting from television, or from the internet, or from certain kind of food. I just didn’t know it but there was something about the lose definition of fasting that didn’t feel right.

McKnight wrote:

“To say that fasting means “not to indulge” opens up the door for some creative ideas. Some today use the word fasting for not watching TV during Lent, abstaining from desserts, or not watching sports on Sunday. Each of these can be a good discipline for specific individuals, but I do not believe it is accurate to call these things fasting. Why? Because fasting in the Bible describes not eating or not drinking. In the Bible, fasting is about not eating food or (rarely) about not drinking water. To choose not to watch TV or not to eat savory meats on Friday is not fasting but abstinence. I think it is important to distinguish between fasting and abstinence…”

A big OUCH to those who think they can custom-make their fasting to specific food or activities.