Jesus expressed the battle of faith well when he said, "The spirit is willing, but the body is weak (Matthew 26:41)." Even though the disciples of Jesus failed to remain awake as Jesus prayed at Gethsemane, Jesus was the one who overcame the temptation of the body and by following the guidance of Holy Spirit, he boldly took up the cross.
The flesh and issues interlinked with the flesh consistently act as obstacles to the people of God who are striving to become the holy temple for His Spirit to dwell within. In Galatians, Apostle Paul said to "live by the Spirit" so that the believers could overcome the sinful desires of the flesh.
In his book, Hunger for God, author John Piper draws in detail one of the training methods of acquiring power of the Holy Spirit. He expresses Christian fasting as "the hunger of a homesickness for God." Piper asserts that people should have a deeper spiritual hunger for God rather than physical hunger or desires. An example he used during the introduction to his book described how he would skip lunch in order to retreat to a quiet place where he would satisfy the hunger he had to read news from his significant other. Instead of only limiting the practice of fasting to food, Piper extends his understanding of fasting to encompass any physical desire that transcends that of wanting God. Not only does he reveal the way to have a surpassing spiritual hunger for God, Piper also targets to destory the desires which obstruct the hunger for God. He says, "The issue is anything and everything that is, or can be, a substitute for God."
For those who have found their faith to become hypocritical as a result of following the practices of the church without understanding the motivation and essence should read this book. The practices of the church can often easily become ritualized or traditionalized to a point where believers only know what the law is but lack complete sincerity in their following due to unexplained meaning of those practices. Piper takes the Christian on a meditative process to develop a greater longing for God and a greater awareness of things that oppose that. The reader will learn how applicable fasting is even in areas of mundane life such as television and "innocent" pleasures.
This book challenges the reader and offers insightful examples that illustrate the point with no unnecessary trimming. No one who finishes reading this book can close it without wanting to apply its teachings. I think this is a highly appropriate book especially for those wanting to begin a bright new year for 2004. This book can serve as a personal retreat to experience a higher spirituality and closeness with God while being an exciting map to new dimensions in perspective.