I love a good plan.
Especially as a mom, wife, and entrepreneur who struggles with “decision fatigue” for myself and my family almost daily.
What is for dinner? Can so-and-so come over? Do I leave the apartment to work or plow through the chaos of life at home?
Maybe you understand where I am coming from?
The incredible thing about God is that while He is fluid and constantly moving, He also left us guidelines and plans so that we didn’t have to make things complicated.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is not absent from God’s people. From the beginning until now, people worldwide have read about or experienced the spiritual and emotional results of fasting.
Let’s look at one Biblical fast, in particular, the Daniel Fast.
What Is the Daniel Fast?
Daniel, a prophet of God, was gifted in interpreting dreams and visions. While that may be a coveted spiritual gift to some, Daniel was often left to deliver themes and messages of judgment to Cyrus, the king of Persia.
One could probably imagine how stressful this may be.
Because Daniel was faithful to God and relied on His presence to lead him daily, Daniel fasted. In this case, he fasted meat, wine, and delicacies of all kinds and replaced them with seeking the Lord.
You see, as he replenished the desires of his flesh with seeking God, Daniel was able to glean the Lord’s wisdom and revelation for what he was facing. And because Daniel showed us how to fast in this manner, we, too, have the tools to draw near to God in the same way.
The Daniel Fast in the Bible: Daniel 10:1-3
“1 In the third year of Cyrus the king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar; and the message was true and it referred to great conflict (warfare, misery). And he understood the message and had an understanding of the vision. 2 In those days I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. 3 I ate no tasty food, nor did any meat or wine enter my mouth; and I did not anoint (refresh, groom) myself at all for the full three weeks.”
Daniel 10: 1-3, AMP
If we look closely, we may find a couple of commonalities between Daniel and ourselves.
Daniel, a dedicated man of God, was living in a land that constantly went against the grain of God’s kingdom. Babylon was a city of defiance. It highlighted greed, a lack of concern for life, human pride, and the worship of idols and many gods.
Secondly, Daniel felt the great weight of the tension of living in God’s truth and living amongst earthly chaos. Maybe, like him, you have mourned over the discord and pain of the world around you?
Daniel knew the importance of the spiritual practice of fasting. So, over this twenty-one-day period, he met with God, and in response, God met with him.
Let’s discuss a few reasons why we, as Christians, should fast.
Why Should We Fast as Christians?
Have you ever experienced the weight of a circumstance so heavy that it affected your faith, your peace, and the overall quality of your life?
I am confident that we have all been there at one point or another.
Throughout the New Testament, we see Jesus teaching and showing us how to engage in spiritual practices that draw us closer to the presence of God.
Fasting is a great way to omit one thing from your life – this could be a meal, social media time, coffee, or whatever you long for over God – while replacing it with dedicated time with the Lord.
Furthermore, fasting is a tangible way to draw near to God if you are waiting for an answer to prayer, if you are struggling with anything in your life that is bringing worry, or if you are interceding for a cause larger than yourself. For as we draw near to God, He promises to draw near to us. (James 4:8)
How to Do the Daniel Fast
Did you know that a fast is much different from a diet?
While Daniel experienced both in the book of Daniel (upon arriving in Babylon in Daniel 1, he was put on a diet to grow stronger), it is important to note that the purpose of a fast is to grow closer to God, not for weight loss.
As we consider the Daniel Fast, let’s take another look at Daniel 10:2-3, AMP:
“2 In those days I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. 3 I ate no tasty food, nor did any meat or wine enter my mouth; and I did not anoint (refresh, groom) myself at all for the full three weeks.”
The Daniel Fast, on average, lasts three weeks. In that time frame, you should not eat the following foods:
- All meat, including shellfish
- All dairy products
- All sweeteners, including honey and stevia
- Breads and flours
- All processed food, including chips, cookies, and sweets
- All solid fats, including butter and margarine
- All beverages other than water
A good rule of thumb to help you remember what Daniel Fast foods you can eat is by remembering: “Only foods that come from seeds.”
Tips for Staying Focused in Prayer
Because fasting requires your flesh to give something up for a spiritual purpose, you may find that your prayer time may be distracted.
Here are a few tips for staying focused in your prayer time.
Have a Glass of Water Nearby
Hydration is not only necessary for focus, but as your mind wanders to that cup of coffee, or sweet treat, taking sips of water can satiate your cravings.
Keep a Prayer Journal
Praying is multi-faceted. Writing your prayers instead of speaking them will keep your hands busy while creating a fasting journal of how the Lord prompted you to pray. This not only will be a record of how God answered your prayers but is a great way to compile all of your Holy Spirit revelations.
Put Social Media Away
Our human instincts are to show others how put together our lives are, spiritual practices included.
However, Jesus says in Matthew 6:17-18, AMP:
“17 But when you fast, put oil on your head [as you normally would to groom your hair] and wash your face 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by people, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.”
I encourage you to use this time to grow with the Lord and allow Him to transform your heart and mindset as He ushers you into His presence. And like Mary, Jesus’ mother, ponder this time with the Father, a secret space that is just for the two of you.
God’s word is a wealth of knowledge and guidance when it comes to growing closer to God in every aspect of our lives. Fasting is a gift and a tool from heaven, and one that miraculously engages us with God’s kingdom.
What are you believing and fasting for?