Review: A Hunger For God by John Piper
This book answers many of the questions about fasting in the life of a Christian. Pastor Piper points out that there are many forms of fasting performed by members of various relgions. Some people like Ghandi fasted for political reasons. Others are motivated to fast to loose weight or prove to themselves and others that they have self control. Pastor Piper points out that mere self denial does not equate to doing something spiritually good. Thus, there are many questions and misunderstandings about fasting that are cleared up in this book. Questions such as what constitutes fasting for a Christian? When should a Christian fast? How often to fast? What is the motivation to fast?
A key concept in this book is that fasting is a hunger for God that expresses itself through the voluntary abstainence of anything legitimate for the sake of a spiritual purpose. Food is a blessing from God that gives us pleasure but, like all good things from God, it can lead to excessive consumption and a preoccupation that dims our focus on God. It seems that America is a country of people who like to eat out which optimizes their enjoyment of food. Thus, fasting related to food is giving up the legitimate needs and pleasure of the body in order to focus on God which is a much better way to spend time and energy. This same idea can be applied to many legitimate comforts and pleasures that take our focus away from God. Therefore, fasting could include abstaining from sports, hobbies or other things which tend to take away from being preoccupied with God.
Fasting is a gift of God and something that he works in believers for their benfit and his glory. It is an expression of hungering after God and His holiness that starts with a realization of great need. Those who see their utter hopelessness and dependence upon God seek to deepen their connection with Him through fasting. Pastor Piper concludes that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. This book also contains an appendix with the quotes and experiences of many Christians from Ignatius to twenty century evangelists and writers.