Fasting is something which has risen to a popular level amongst American Christians as of late. While certain denominations have taught this religious practice, it has not been mainstream for some time. Then comes the popularity of the Daniel Fast. Susan Gregory’s take on this particular practice, which encompasses eating very healthy for a short period of time, offers an intriguing perspective on living a careful lifestyle in order to draw closer to God. Gregory makes it clear in her introduction that this book offers a spiritual journey unlike any other. The question when reading her book is this: am I engaged for my own sake, or for God’s?
Overall, the bulk of the book is recipes which will facilitate your fasting experience, and they are well-organized. The variety presented in the book suggests a robust diet, coupled with spiritual elements that have been well-researched. In fact, if you pay attention to the testimonies littered throughout in the margins, you’ll come away with the very distinct feeling that this book will solve all your problems: obesity, physical fitness, emotional issues, spiritual starvation, etc. In the end though, I believe there is something afoot here.
Gregory is humble in her approach, but whether she realizes it or not, she is prescribing spirituality as a diet plan. Let’s be clear, this is not the kind of fasting God has called us to. One only need to look at passages like Isaiah 58 to realize that fasting for any kind of selfish motivations defeats the purpose. We are not the point in fasting: loving God and loving others is. Considering books like Fast Living by Scott Todd, The Daniel Fast gives me great pause. I’m not saying there aren’t different ways of fasting, or that fasting shouldn’t draw us closer to God. But Gregory’s book gave me the impression that I was fasting for me. And I just can’t get behind that.
However, I would say that using her plan as a model for Christian dieting and exercise is probably a solid idea. Her methods seem to work and her research is impeccable (as far as recipes and dieting related material goes). But from a theological perspective, I can’t get behind the message of this book. While Gregory may not have intended to write something theological, she did. And the results have left me hungry for some real meat.