Scot McKnight always has a way of deconstructing a difficult and sometimes foreign topic so that, at the very least, the reader is forced to think and discover answers for themselves. In Fasting: The Ancient Practices, McKnight takes a spiritual practice as old as the Bible and removes some of the mystery surrounding it so that one knows the Biblical purpose behind the practice.
McKnight makes the case that the Biblical purpose of fasting was to be a “spiritual response to a sacred moment.” He details examples that show that where fasting is found in the Bible it is always surrounding a sacred moment. This was truly eye opening for me. You see, I run marathons and am familiar with the mind set of, “I would like to challenge myself to see if I can do this hard thing.” I think many people approach fasting in the same way. They want to show that they are serious about this religion thing and desire to hang their hat on being able to say I did this hard thing for Jesus. I admit that I have been guilty of this. But what McKnight shows us is that fasting is not a spiritual challenge to test our religious mettle but an opportunity for our body to participate in the stuff of the spiritual.
As I was reading this book, I was faced with several difficult challenges that left me burdened. I started to see these challenges as sacred moments where I needed God deeply. Fasting during this time was an obvious and beneficial practice that lightened my burdens and instilled a sense of God’s presence throughout the ordeal.