Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: The Daniel Fast

The Daniel Fast by Susan Gregory is a good book. Gregory encourages her readers to feed their souls, strengthen their spirits, and renew their bodies by being extremely disciplined about what they eat for a designated period of time and by praying and studying their Bibles, too. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a good thing to do. Gregory even provides recipes and devotionals to help her readers along the way. In fact, these take up most of the book. Gregory closes with a question and answer section for further clarification of her idea. And it is a good idea.

But it isn’t a fast.

And the Bible passage that it is based on wasn’t about a fast.

Scot McKnight, author of Fasting, defines fasting as “the natural, inevitable response of a person to a grievous sacred moment in life.” He says “The focus in the Christian tradition is not ‘if you fast you will get,’ but ‘when this happens, God’s people fast.’ Fasting is a response to a very serious situation, not an act that gets us from a good level to a better level” (pp. xix-xx).

In other words, we don’t fast because we want something from God—even a good thing like spiritual growth or a deeper relationship with Him. We fast because God calls us to it through the circumstances of life. If something good comes of the experience, that is a bonus for us.

In the first chapter of Daniel, he and his friends request a special diet. They do not make this request in order to fast or grow spiritually or even to become healthy, though. They do so out of obedience to God. The king has ordered them to eat food that has been sacrificed to idols. This will violate God’s law. They choose to obey God, and He honors their decision by making them healthier than anyone else in the king’s training program.

This is no different from Daniel’s choice to pray, though it landed him in the lion’s den, or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s choice to not bow to an idol, though it landed them in the fiery furnace. In all three situations, the men chose to obey God, and God blessed their decision in return.

If you choose to follow Gregory’s Daniel Fast because you long to grow closer to God, I have no doubt He’ll honor that decision. He loves it when we devote ourselves to Him in disciplined and concentrated ways. But you won’t be fasting. You’ll be disciplining yourself to eat healthy foods, pray, and study God’s Word. The experience will be good for you.

Thank you, Tyndale House Publishers, for sending this book for my honest review.

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