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Fasting: Fasting as Body Talk in the Christian Tradition
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Fasting: Fasting as Body Talk in the Christian Tradition

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  245 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
Fasting is the body talking what the spirit yearns, what the soul longs for, and what the mind knows to be true.

Scot McKnight

Christianity has traditionally been at odds with the human body. At times in the historyof the church, Christians have viewed the body and physical desires as the enemy. Now, Scot McKnight, best-selling author of "The Jesus Creed," reconnects the spi
Hardcover, 180 pages
Published February 1st 2009 by Thomas Nelson Publishers
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Patrick Willis
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit first off that I truly admire Scot McKnight and all that he's done to teach Bible and theology. One of my all time favorite books was "The Jesus Creed." In addition to content, his writing style is very easy to follow and conversational, and this book on fasting was no different. The most memorable part of his presentation of this discipline is how he defines fasting. The definition that he gives is "fasting is the natural, inevitable response of a person to a grievous sacred moment ...more
Bryan Neuschwander
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Here is, I think, the strength of the book: "Fasting along with our prayer requests is not some kind of magic bullet to ensure the answer we want. Fasting doesn't reinforce the crumbling walls of our prayers like a flying buttress, nor is it a manipulative device. We fast because a condition arises--what we are calling the sacred moment--that leads us to desire something deeply. We fast because our plea is so intense that in the midst of our sacred desire eating seems sacrilegious" (49).

I'm gla
Adam Shields
Dec 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Prayer has a bundle of natural companions -- like prayer and kneeling, prayer and pleading, prayer and pondering, prayer and struggling, prayer and praising -- and prayer and fasting.

Sometimes it is necessary to check the delight of the flesh in respect to licit pleasures in order to keep if from yielding to illicit joys. -Augustine

Fasting helps us to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain the Kingdom of God. -Andrew M
Dec 19, 2017 rated it liked it
McKnight's book on fasting is a very practical step by step take on the sacred practice. It is very easy to read and understand. McKnight does a great job at bringing the Ancient Voices to light each step of the way while also illuminating contemporary concerns. I read this while I am doing a 21 day abstinence/fast. It helped a lot with my focus and warning me of my own pious weaknesses. I enjoyed the book. IT is a helpful resource for Christians and others to understand religious motivations an ...more
Lucy G. DE Llaguno
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Somos unidad cuerpo alma espíritu emociones pasiones .... por eso también "hacemos espiritualidad con el cuerpo". ¿Por que el empeño inútil por separarnos de nosotros mismos? Nos quiebra.

Ayuno es una respuesta del cuerpo ante el dolor. Me recuerda la sencilla experiencia de no comer cuando estoy triste. Simplemente no tengo hambre. No es un sacrificio es solo respuesta. Y en esa respuesta quizá y solo quizá encuentre otra respuesta que invite a la transformación.
Rocky Woolery
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good insights on the spiritual practice of fasting. I especially like the definition McKnight gives to fasting, "Fasting is the natural, inevitable response of a person to a grievous sacred moment in life." It was also good to see that he says that fasting is not about what I can get from God, rather a response to who God is.
Seth Comfort
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Charissa Howe
Mar 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm not an Anabaptist as McKnight is, but I thought to pick up this little tome to see a different perspective on a basic practice of my own faith. And I was really impressed.

Don't get me wrong. McKnight and I don't agree on everything. And I'm not completely buying everything McKnight says about fasting. But he said enough that made me challenge what I believe that I re-examined my own faith and found that some things I didn't think that I believe I actually do believe.

The biggest example revol
Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Fasting isn’t a popular spiritual discipline. It’s not the sort of thing people get excited about: feasting, yes; but fasting, no. Particularly at this time of year!
This excellent book by Scot McKnight, part of The Ancient Practices Series under the general editorship of Phyllis Tickle, takes a fresh look at fasting.
Is fasting a form of trying to twist God’s arm? Is it a way of showing God how serious we are? No. McKnight stresses that fasting isn’t a manipulative tool that guarantees results. I
Scott Jeffries
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: prayer, 2013
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
Apr 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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,
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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
John Darrow
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: completed
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
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-sneeze
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
Joey Reed
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Roger Miller
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Anyone wanting to understand fasting, this is the first book you should read besides the bible. Dr. Scot McKnight's definition of fasting is; Fasting is the natural, inevitable response to a grievous sacred moment in life. As I read through this book, I am convinced, that the word grievous, should be dropped from the definition, most times it is a death or a grievous sin that prompts fasting-but there are biblical and traditions where fasting rightly occurred on the calendar. A side benefit of t ...more
Mitch Kelly
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A great introduction to the discipline of fasting. McKnight tackles the topic well, focusing on why we should fast. Christians are called to a faith that incorporates both body and soul.

Highly recommended for people who want to learn more about fasting, as well as an important book for anybody so "spiritual" that they ignore the physical aspects of worship.

*I can't recommend this to teens or those susceptible to struggle with body image. Anorexia among both females and males is a serious problem
Philip Zoutendam
Oct 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Above all a helpful summary of the practices and history of fasting and the reasons behind it. It's not so much inspiring as it is informative, and though McKnight can be a bit repetitive, that seems the be the (worthwhile) cost of his clarity. Even if you skim about half the book as I did, it's worth the time.

Though clearly written from an Evangelical perspective, McKnight takes an admirably ecumenical approach, incorporating wisdom from East and West, from Catholics and Protestants. Where he d
May 01, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jeremy by: Pete van Genne
McKnight approaches the topic of fasting with his usual theological rigor combined with clear and insightful practical application. The big idea is that fasting is a response to a “grievous sacred moment in life” that allows us to empathize with God. We are body, spirit, soul and mind and fasting is natural given our physicality. I highly recommend this book to anyone curious about fasting or someone who regularly engages in the practice.
Tim Gannon
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
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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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