One huge change during our lifetime is the quantity of teaching and writing on the topic of fasting. In the first helpful material I ever read on fasting, Richard Foster’s chapter on this practice in Celebration of Discipline, he noted, “in my research I could not find a single book published on the subject of Christian fasting from 1861 to 1954, a period of nearly 100 years.”Today, in contrast, I just did a quick search online which turned up 157 current Christian books with fasting as their subject matter.
In scanning through the list, these are things which we are led to believe can/should come if we practice fasting:
- breakthroughs of different kinds (spiritual, emotional, physical, and––of course––even financial)
- health, energy and longer life
- better preaching
- and the one that takes the prize, from one of the book descriptions: ”achieving your dreams at ‘break neck’ speed”
Is something amiss? It’s as if we have turned this biblical practice into a way of twisting God’s arm into giving us something that, by our fasting, we are showing him that we really, really want––like our spiritualized adult version of a toddler’s attempts at manipulating their parents by throwing a temper tantrum. “God, I really want this, and I’m going to prove it to you by going without food for a while!”