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The Essential Guide to Fasting: What It Is, How to Do It, and Why It Matters Paperback – October 18, 2016
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From the Back Cover
Unleash the Power of Fasting to Satisfy Your Hunger for God
In a society where we want for nothing, abstaining from what we desire offers little appeal. Why go hungry? Why thirst? Yet fasting--one of the most misunderstood spiritual disciplines--isn't about lack. It's about drawing closer to God and resting in His abundance.
Discover the amazing benefits of fasting in this foundational handbook for the dynamic practice. In The Essential Guide to Fasting, Elmer L. Towns, a leading author on the topic, lays out a biblical overview, outlines a practical, easy-to-implement plan, and answers your questions on topics including:
· Getting ready to fast
· Types of fasts and choosing one
· Learning to pray while fasting
· Fasting to know God
· Fasting to open up heaven
Most important, in this focused and forthright volume you will encounter a powerful new way to experience God's presence, to listen to Him, to worship, and to pray more deeply.
About the Author
Elmer L. Towns is dean emeritus of the School of Religion and Theological Seminary at Liberty University, which he cofounded in 1971 with Jerry Falwell. Dr. Towns has written many bestselling books, including Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough, The Ultimate Guide to the Names of God, Fasting for Financial Breakthrough, and The Daniel Fast. He continues to teach the Pastor's Bible Class at Thomas Road Baptist Church each Sunday, which is televised on a local network and Angel One. He makes his home in Lynchburg, Virginia.
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First, the author relies on sensationalism throughout the book. In the opening paragraphs introduction, he name drops Jerry Falwell and implies because Falwell fasts so should we. I fast because I feel it brings me near God--that's the only reason needed. In the second chapter, he implies that a child too young to be fasting single-handedly caused a church’s puppet show to start a revival. Chapter seven he compares fear to a National Geographic episode where lions kill antelopes. Likewise, in chapter seven, he translates Psalm 23 over-the-top sensationally and quite honestly incorrectly. Chapter, the author lauds that Jonathon Edwards fasted so harshly he ended up choking and retching. Mr. Town praises this for causing the Great Awaking. That’s sensationalism and rubbish. It has no place in Christian literature.
Secondly, the author is wrong. For example, he claims fasting is a good way to eliminate toxins from the colon. It’s pseudoscience to make such claims—especially as the writer has no medical background. Regarding Jonathan Edwards example above, intense choking is a legitimate reason to stop a fast. In fact, it is a pretty darn good reason not only stop fasting but also see a physician. Next, Town calls one day long fasts “Yom Kippur fasts.” He implies one day of fasting is equivalent to the practices by Jews during Yom Kippur and that’s simply not true. The Jewish faith has many one-day fast and most have nothing to do with the Day of Atonement. He also lists the Mayo Clinic fast as a type of fast. That is not a religious fast—so it’s not relevant. He again uses pseudoscience. Either way, it doesn’t belong in the book.
Thirdly and the biggest failure, the author rarely stays on topic. The most important part of a how-to book is to explain how to do something. In a book on religious fasting, one would expect an expert on fasting to explain to novices how to fast properly. It’s reasonable to expect: 1) what a fast is, 2) why we fast, 3) who should and shouldn’t fast 4) guidance on fasting—for example you should talk to your doctor, talk to your preacher, spouse, etc. 5) examples from the Bible, 6) how start a fast, stay in the fast, and breaking fasts whether by completion or safety. None of that information is in “The Essential Guide to Fasting.” Instead the book is pages and pages of seminary drivel to sell in daily devotionals and greeting cards. He talks about farmer's tables, shadows stealing life, and eagle’s wings. I wrote “What does this story have to do with fasting?” in the margins of chapters 5,6, and 7.
To be fair, there are some good parts of the book. For example: P105: [When you fast] you stop listening to your body and catering to its desires so that your soul can become quiet. Then you can listen to God only...Two things happen when you take time to fast. First, you slow your system and become quieter so that you can hear God. Second, you take time away from your daily routine so that you can focus your attention on Him. Quiet and Focus. Those the results of fasting. P122: When you fast and pray, you can ask God to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on others through you. You can band on the gates of heaven so God will convict the last person of sin and bring him or her to Jesus Christ. Become a gap person who props open the door of heaven so your friends and relatives might enter.” I love those views on fasting. Sadly, however, out of 150 pages—that’s about it.
In closing, “The Essential Guide to Fasting” isn’t essential and isn’t about fasting. It’s another seminarian hocking books using smoke and mirrors to turn a buck. The Christian faith is in decline globally—and books like this are part of the reason why. If the book were about crocheting or brewing beer—you couldn’t get anything done. How-to books should be how-to. The book doesn’t respect the Christian reader’s time. The author doesn't respect God's time. Skip Town's book and move on.