A “Best Spiritual Book of the Year.”
Spirituality & Practice

The Sacred Art of Fasting: Preparing to Practice

Explore the practical approaches, spiritual motivations and physical benefits of an ancient practice that crosses faith traditions. Will answer your questions, allay your fears and reveal how you can safely incorporate fasting into your spiritual life.

Rev. Thomas Ryan

5½ x 8½, 192 pp | 978-1-59473-078-8

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Open your mind and heart and discover how the sacred art of fasting can strengthen your spiritual appetite

“Fasting as a religious act increases our sensitivity to that mystery always and everywhere present to us…. It is an invitation to awareness, a call to compassion for the needy, a cry of distress, and a song of joy. It is a discipline of self-restraint, a ritual of purification, and a sanctuary for offerings of atonement. It is a wellspring for the spiritually dry, a compass for the spiritually lost, and inner nourishment for the spiritually hungry.”

—from chapter 9

Though fasting is practiced in some form by nearly every faith tradition throughout the world, it is often seen as scary or something only for monastic life. But fasting doesn’t have to be intimidating. And it doesn’t have to mean going weeks without food.

The Sacred Art of Fasting invites you to explore the practical approaches, spiritual motivations, and physical benefits of this ancient practice by looking at the ways it is observed in several faith traditions. Inspiring personal reflections, helpful advice, and encouragement from people who practice fasting answer your questions, allay your fears, and reveal how you too can safely incorporate fasting into your spiritual life.

“A major contribution to a lost art, discipline, and spiritual practice. It reflects both a maturation of religion and a radical return to tradition. Thomas Ryan is teaching us how to refine our appetites!”

Richard Rohr, OFM, founder and director of The Center for Action and Contemplation

“A solid and stimulating addition to the reading list of interreligious discussion groups.”


“Insightful and balanced.... Garners the wisdom of different religious traditions ... needed in today’s world.... Father Ryan has rendered a notable service in writing this book.”

Monastic and Interreligious Dialogue

“A superbly written guidebook and practical resource…. Explores with ease and clarity our deeply rooted fascination with fasting and abstinence…. He writes from a Christian perspective yet compares and contrasts teachings and practices in other religious traditions with insight and respect.”

John Borelli, Special Assistant to the President for Interreligious Initiatives, Georgetown University

“Broader and more complex than it might at first appear.... [A] sensitive treatment of fasting’s tradition and meanings in not only Christianity but also Judaism, Islam, and other faiths.”

Library Journal

“A sober, practical, and deeply reverential discussion of an ancient practice undertaken in search for enlightenment.”

Midwest Book Review

“Readers may be inspired to develop their own fasting practice.... Warm [and] personal ... accessible and inviting.... Equips readers to practice this sacred art safely and meaningfully.”

New Age Retailer

“Accessible, thoughtful.... One of the book’s strengths is its evenhanded introduction to each of the six religions it covers....These [balanced] narratives allow adherents from each religion to speak from their own belief and experience.... [A] gem.... A much-needed treatise that will attract believers from all faiths.”

Publishers Weekly

“Does an excellent service…. With diverse perspectives of social responsibility, devotion, ecology, the politics of hunger, and medicine, he explores the depth of human well-being … dispelling fears, guiding us with examples.”

Bhaswati Bhattacharya, MPH, MD, holistic physician-author and assistant professor of family practice in medicine, Weill-Cornell Medical College

“Well-researched and developed.... Well-rounded.... Merit[s] serious consideration.... A feast of words that cannot fail to delight all who partake of it.... Reader-friendly ... a work of substance.”

Montreal Anglican