Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On Fasting

As far as spiritual disciplines go, fasting is not really on my radar. I've had friends who are Catholic restrict their meat intake during Lent. Every year, my "Theology" blogs fill with what to give up for Lent. College friends fasted for 72 hours and youth groups did fundraising (and awareness-raising) through the 30-hour famine. But for me, the most I've ever given up for Lent is Diet Coke and that was hard. As one who is primarily motivated guilt and feels guilty about that, I structure my spiritual disciplines around the things that don't inspire guilt. And giving up stuff only to fail doesn't fit the paradigm.

So A Women's Guide to Fasting shows up in the mail. I must have chosen it, but the lag times lead to forgetfulness. And I'm intrigued. And I was pleasantly surprised.

The author, Lisa Nelson, is a just a regular Christian, definitely not Lutheran, former Army JAG officer. She lays out the types of fasts one can do, the reasons for fasting, and what you need to know to be successful in your fast. But she does all this with the constant reminder that failing isn't failing God and one is not required to fast to be a Christian. It's remarkably guilt free. She even includes her own struggles with fasting. Perfection is not required.

There's still an air of the mystical that brings out my skeptical nature. And I'm not sure I'll be starting a fast anytime soon. (Besides this is the time for feasting which can be detrimental to any fast.) But I'm willing to be more open to the possibility.

However, the one thing I'll take from the book regardless of spiritual discipline is the following line:
"walk by faith and not by guilt"
I can get behind a life like that.

Disclaimer: Bethany House send me this book for review, but my opinions are my own.

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