Three weeks ago, I set out to complete a 21 day Daniel Fast. For those of you not familiar with this method of fasting, it’s based off of the Book of Daniel. Daniel was fasting for spiritual purposes, to show his devotion to God and to seek God’s guidance. The following verse gives the best account of what was physically involved in the fast:

I did not eat any rich food or any meat, drink any wine, or comb my hair until the three weeks were past. Daniel 10:3

No rich food or meat or wine. The meat and wine part is pretty clear: no meat or alcohol of any kind. Rich food is really more up for debate. Here are the foods I avoided during this fast: meat, dairy, refined sugar, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine. My diet consisted of vegetables, rice (brown or wild), simple breads with minimum ingredients, fruit, nuts and water. Eating was a means of providing nutrients for my body, not a means of indulgence.

As for the second part of the verse, I did comb my hair during the fast, or what’s left of it anyway. Many years after Daniel’s time, Jesus gave us new instructions for fasting in the Sermon on the Mount. We are to make ourselves presentable during a fast. No one should be aware of our fast simply by looking at us. Going around looking haggard and telling everyone how pious I am because “I’m fasting and they’re not” isn’t exactly the point.

When I thought of fasting before, I always assumed it meant going without food for several days. I had never thought of fasting like the Daniel Fast. It seemed fairly simple and straight forward, though. How hard could it be? The answer: far more difficult that I imagined. We are so far removed from eating for survival purposes that it took this Daniel Fast to really make me appreciate how good we have it here in the land of plenty. The first four days were fraught with withdrawal symptoms: headaches, lethargy, grouchiness, adjusting blood sugar levels, etc. The cravings for sugar during the fast were intense and the desire for the comfort foods I have grown so accustomed to were almost more than I could take.

But that’s the point of the fast: difficulty and struggles that we need help to overcome. The fasting isn’t about the physical world, really. It isn’t about losing weight. It isn’t really about “us” at all. It’s about God. We give up food that our bodies crave and look to God for the support we need to fight through the difficulties. God honors our sacrifice and draws closer to us as we draw closer to Him. As we spend time in his Word during the fast, he opens our eyes and hearts to His instruction. As we bring prayers to Him, we learn to trust Him on a deeper level. He wants us to be close to Him more than anything, and the Daniel Fast is an amazing way for us to learn how to do that.

Like most people entering the fast, I had specific items I was going to bring before God with the intent of seeking His direction. I had read plenty of people’s comments about the miraculous things God had done for them during and after their fast. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but was confident God would do positive works in my life as a result. I wasn’t disappointed. Surprised, but not disappointed.

So what was God’s main message to me? Here it is in a nutshell: ”I know what you need before you ask. Be close to Me. Don’t spend your time worrying. Follow Me and I will protect you. Trust Me and I will provide for you. Give yourself fully to Me and you will have unimaginable peace and prosperity.” During the fast, His Word came alive for me and he led me to many, many passages of Scripture that drove home that message. As I said, it wasn’t what I was expecting. As is God’s way, the result was much more than I was expecting.

I’ve learned so much. I feel so much closer to God. He knows my needs, and he knows my desires. If I will constantly look to Him, He promises to take care of those things that cause me grief in this world. If will stay focused on Him, even when the skies are dark and the storm clouds gather, the end result will be victory. Victory has already been won, but the Deceiver would have me think otherwise. God has made it clear that I am to ignore the deception and stay focused on Him. The all powerful God of the universe takes time every second of the day to love me. How amazing is that?

It’s a message that I have read a thousand times, but until I drew close to Him and he planted the true meaning in my Spirit, I didn’t really know what it meant. Twenty one days isn’t much in the scheme of a person’s life, but the last twenty one have certainly had a profound impact on mine.
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Published on April 26, 2012 22:17 • 2,317 views • Tags: biblical-fast, daniel-fast

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