Fasting: The Ancient Practices
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Fasting: The Ancient Practices

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  106 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Building a body and mind that hungers for God.

Is the practice of faith centered solely on the spirit? Is the body an enemy, or can it actually play a role in our pursuit of God? In this installation of the "Ancient Practices Series," Dr. Scot McKnight reconnects the spiritual and the physical through the discipline of fasting.

The act of fasting, he says, should not be focu...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Thomas Nelson (first published February 1st 2009)
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Fasting and Eating for Health by Joel FuhrmanFrom Fasting Saints to Anorexic Girls by Walter VandereyckenEncyclopedia Of Easter, Carnival, And Lent by Tanya GulevichFasting by Scot McKnightThe Rewards of Fasting by Mike Bickle
The Literature of Fasting
3rd out of 26 books — 9 voters
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92nd out of 101 books — 5 voters

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Fasting, written by Scot McKnight, analyzes Christians’ view of the body and the role of fasting in a person’s spiritual walk. According to McKnight, when the body, soul, spirit, and heart come together in unity, fasting is a natural response to a relationship with God. Throughout the book, McKnight shares a formula for fasting: A—a grievous, sacred moment; B—fasting; C—results. Many Christians believe that if they will fast, God will answer them in a certain way. McKnight argues that fasting fo...more
Ben Zajdel
Anyone looking for a great book on fasting need only turn to Scot McKnight's newest work, Fasting, part of the Ancient Practices series. This book draws on Biblical examples of fasting to illustrate what fasting is, and how it should be done. McKnight is thorough and researches extensively, using familiar fasters such as Daniel, Moses, and Jesus from the Bible, and even covers fasting saints of the early church such as Jerome and Francis of Assisi.

McKnight focuses not on the results of fasting,...more
Scott Jeffries
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 de...more
Fasting by Scot McKnight
Thomas Nelson, 2009
132 pages
Inspirational; Non-fiction
4/5 stars

Source: Received as a free ebook from booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to read this because I've been thinking about my relationship with food lately and because I didn't know much about fasting, biblically and in more modern times. I was hoping to learn a lot more through reading this book--and I did!

First McKnight outlines why we fast. There are two main reasons; one is in response to a g...more
Seth Comfort
I just finished reading Scot McKnight's book Fasting, this book is one of the eight books in the Ancinet Practices Series and I thought it was excellent. Editor Phyllis Tickle warns in her forward that this book is not a book for the cowardly, instead it is for the corageous Christian who seeks to more fully understand and serve God. I think that is an appropriate warning.
Scot starts off his book talking about fasting through different Christian voice through history. He talks about how fasting...more
Marcus Lynn
Scot McKnight’s “Fasting” is one of eight volumes in the Ancient Practices series. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series but if Fasting is anything like the others than I look forward to reading them. McKnight does an impressive job framing the spiritual discipline of fasting within the deeper tradition of Christianity and Judaism. His insight into its history, purpose, and practice is the most helpful work on the subject I have come across. The only thing I was hoping to find in t...more
I initially wanted to give the book only 3 stars for the reason that it is not a compelling read. However, most textbooks are not. Given the history, theology, and education presented by McKnight I thought it more appropriate to award 4 stars instead. By and large the author's gravamen is two-fold: fasting is the natural body response to a grievous or serious spiritual moment (others might call this a a "Kiros" moment); and while such a moment (A) leads to fasting (B), fasting (B) does not alway...more
Charissa Howe
Highly recommend this book!

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 discipli...more
McNights potent insight about integrated body/soul response to sacred and serious events, which fasting is the designed response to a sacred and serious moment and his idea of an integrated body-soul reaction to lifes serious moments was really very helpful to me.
He takes the reader back to the bible and shows in the OT how King David, Daniel and Isaiah among others responded to grievous sacred times in life - fasting. Showing that it is a natural body response to fast in reaction to grievous s...more
I would say McKnight's book has perhaps a more academic feel than Piper's book. It actually is very good in that it really spells out what fasting is at its very roots, what he calls Body Talk. In his words, fasting is what we do as a *response* to a sacred moment in life. In explaining the different types of fasting, he sticks pretty close to his original formula : A -> B -> C. Here the A is a sacred or grievous moment. B is fasting, and C is the possible but not guaranteed result of fast...more
I think this book is an invaluable tool for anyone even considering a fast. Contemporary Christian culture has allowed fasting to become something it is not. I usually don't find that equations and Christianity mix, but McKnight's A-B-C understanding for fasting is extremely helpful for correcting incorrect understandings. I have no doubt that my own fasting will continue to be molded and shaped by this book and out of that a more faithful reading of biblical texts concerning fasting. I also gre...more
This is probably the best book and teaching on fasting that I have seen. The majority of the book spends time looking at biblical and historical examples for why and how people fasted. McKnight spends quite a bit of time also explaining how much of today's church has the motives for fasting. We shouldn't fast because we want to get something out of it, but instead because we are responding to situations that we see in the world and our relationship with God (sin, death, distance, etc). He does a...more
Adam Shields
My full review is at

Short version review: This is a very good book. I think the best of the three Ancient Practices books I have read. It is enough background and history to understand fasting while still being personal and relevant to fasting today.

The majority of the book was really about how not to fast (bad motivation, bad theology, bad health, etc.). I have read or started a few books on fasting in the last week or so and the main addition of this bo...more
John Darrow
Short and concise yet filled with rich biblical history and a robust look at the early churches view of fasting. Dr. McKnight refers to fasting as the full body response to a grievous moment in life. He constantly refers to the diagram A (grievous moment) - B (fasting) - C (results). He makes the case that we are to fast when we grieve God because of sin, or in agreement of injustice to others, and our longing to know and connect to God because of other grievous moments (A-B). Sometimes this can...more
Many religions throughout history have used fasting as a way to get closer to their dieties and to atone for sins. Many people follow along with the practice not knowing the origins or meanings behind this practice.

Scot McKnight breaks down the barriers that hold back this knowledge.

In the first half of the book, he talks about fasting as it applies to spirituality. How does it help you get closer to God? How does it help you tune into your spiritual being?

In the second half of the book, he tal...more
Joey Reed
Scot McKnight has covered some new ground here. Naturally, there are several points to be made about fasting as a spiritual exercise. But McKnight has deftly woven the spiritual impact of fasting with the responses of the flesh, reuniting the body and spirit to more closely approach the concept of the soul.

Most fascinating was his simple explanation of fasting as RESPONSE, and not TRIGGER. The idea of fasting to accomplish a goal is practically ubiguitous. But the clear notion that fasting is a...more
Fasting provided a good biblical and historical overview, though an awkward definition of fasting. McKnight made a broad definition of fasting that included the idea of sacred moment, and it felt like he worked a bit too hard to fit all his points together under this definition. But his repeated emphasis that when fasting one begins with God and a desire for God and not with our particular desires and ends is necessary advice in our current spiritual marketplace. Fasting is not instrumental, but...more
Reviewed by Herb:
Fasting is not a spiritual discipline much in vogue today in our western world of overindulgence. But I found McKnight’s book really helpful, as I explored what the meaning of fasting is for me. This book is well-written, very simple, and not overly long. A good read on a good subject that is needed for the church today. McKnight shows that fasting is a response to grievous sacred moments and our cry for God’s intervention. Well-worth reading. It moved me to start fasting again...more
A good book on fasting that emphasized over and over again that fasting must emanate from a grievous sacred moment and must be motivated by that versus the need to get something from God. While I have read of the techniques for fasting, the biblical examples of fasting and the spiritual benefit to our souls, I've never heard anyone make the case for where our motivation should lie with fasting. McKnight does a good job of keeping before the reader the one reason for fasting -- the grievous sacre...more
Tim Gannon
Speaks about fasting across the ages. Discusses his beliefs for why we should fast and the many ways it is not a helpful pursuit. Points out the beliefs of a large number of historical figures across the years. His main point is we shouldn't do it with the belief God will then do something for us (ie, manipulation) but that due to some spiritually intense reason (eg, death, loss, the poor, sorrow), we are brought to want to fast to empathize with those in pain. It was an enjoyable read.
Steve Johnson
This may be my least favorite McKnight book. In the end, I felt no more drawn to fasting than before. Actually, I'm not particularly sure what he was trying to demonstrate about fasting. If anything, the part I understood was that fasting is a natural response to certain situations. If I don't feel that response, does that mean the spirit isn't working in me. I didn't take it that he was saying that much. Then again, I wasn't sure.
Keith Kendall
Sorry, this book just didn't do anything for me. It was a slog trying to get through his various reasons for fasting. For me, there are two reasons to fast. Fasting is quite simply a way to get closer to God through turning my attention from physical things to spiritual things. The other reason is to exercise control over appetite. All those myriad reasons might be meaningful to others, but to me they seemed to belabor and distract.
This is a good overview of fasting, its functions and purposes. He emphasizes his main point to death, which is that Christians fast in response to a "grievous sacred moment" rather than in order to get a particular result. He looks at fasting in the Bible and in church history. It's not comprehensive, but I definitely came away with a better understanding of what fasting is and how it involves both the body and the spirit.
A wonderful introduction and re-introduction to the vital Christian discipline of fasting. McKnight challenges common assumptions of contemporary fasting practices and asserts that fasting is in response to a "grievous sacred moment." There is a depth of material here that will make your rethink, and perhaps, re-embrace, this common Biblical practice.
Carl Jenkins
Fantastic book on fasting.
Dave McNeely
This is the best and most accessible book on fasting I've read. This book is worth particular note for McKnight's emphasis on fasting as "a full-bodied response to a grievous sacred moment" ("responsive fasting"), in contrast to the over-emphasized correlation between fasting and results ("instrumental fasting").
Mcknight's approach to fasting avoids dualistic body-hating asceticism. Instead he casts fasting as a whole person response to a grievous sacred moment. For the most part he is helpful and thoughtful in his approach, and the book is accessible in its engagement with the Christian tradition.
Leslie Fields
May 20, 2010 Leslie Fields is currently reading it
Very useful overview of the history of fasting in the Christian traditions. He advances a particular perspective on the best use of fasting now, which I think is sensible, helpful and biblical
J.E. Jr.
Nov 29, 2010 J.E. Jr. rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: pastors, church leaders, church members
Great book on fasting, which is a too-neglected subject in our day. McKnight’s work is solid here; I consider this a must-read for Christians looking to further their spiritual formation.
Tom Wideman
This book is part of a series of wonderful books on spiritual practices edited by Phyllis Tickle. McKnight does an excellent job bringing fasting into true biblical focus.
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Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author or editor of forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL. Dr. McKnight has given interviews on radios across the nation, has appeared on television, and is regularly speaks at local churches, conferences, colleges, and seminaries in the...more
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