Book Review: 40 Days of Decrease–Fasting at a Whole New Level (I’d rather give up food)

Usually when people talk about fasting for Lent, it’s about giving up a luxury or a fun item as a sacrifice to remind them of Jesus’ suffering on the cross.

However, the book that I just finished reading this past Lenten season takes fasting to a whole new level.

Forty Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole is a 40-day-long daily devotional book that walks the reader through Jesus’ ministry, especially focusing on the final few weeks of his life. Each day, a short devotional is presented along with a Scripture reading. A few thought provoking questions are given with some journaling space for a few reflections. Also, the author includes an interesting history of various Lenten traditions.

But that’s not what makes the book special. At least for me.

The author challenges the reader to participate in a series of fasts, a different one each day. And these fasts go above and beyond giving up chocolate, soda, or television. She asks us to fast other things.

Things like a critical spirit.



Guilt from the past.

Honestly, I think I’d rather give up food. These fasts are HARD! I mean, how many times a day do I mentally (or verbally) complain? How many times do I mentally compare myself to someone, usually so I can prop up my ego with pride or beat myself up?

But, isn’t that the point of fasting? Not only to give up some treasured luxury, but to make us as Christians grow closer to Jesus. These fasts really do this. In fasting one bad habit at a time,(okay…sinful habit. There. I said it.) I learned that I really do have some hard work to do in my Christian life.

See, I must confess that I usually feel pretty good about my Christian walk. I don’t swear. I don’t typically lose my temper. I don’t cheat others, I dress modestly, and I read my Bible every day. (well…almost every day.) But, Christianity is so much more that just avoiding the BIG sins. Those “little” sins, ones like pride, complaining, and anger, affect me just as much as the biggies. In fact, in just considering them as no big deal, I am making a mockery of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.  These fasts really made me conscious of how wretched I am without the blood of Christ covering my sin.

Now,  this book is not designed to make you beat yourself up. Many of the fasts are positive in nature, focusing on loving others, and the common thread that runs through each daily devotional is a great rejoicing in the Grace given to us through Christ. The author seems to hope that in reading this book we can come back to the true meaning of Lent–a time of meditation, rejoicing and sacrifice which reminds us of our wondrous Gift of Grace.

While I did receive this book for free from in exchange for my review, this is one book I will probably read again and again. In my opinion, it was a wonderful way to usher in the Lenten Season and refocus my heart on what really matters–pleasing my Jesus and growing to become more like Him.



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