Today is day 21 of the Daniel Fast for my wife and myself. For those unfamiliar with the Daniel Fast, it is based off of Daniel’s life and transition to living under Babylonian authority as found in the book of Daniel in the Bible. For a period of time, Daniel and his companions refrained from eating and drinking the king’s best. Instead, they ate nothing but vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and water to drink.
“Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”Daniel 1:12-13 ESV
Daniel was seeking to maintain obedience to his God, even though Israel was captured by the Babylonians. The Daniel Fast is a set aside time to commit to this type of eating to practice obedience in your life and allow yourself to focus on prayer and submitting to God’s will.
This fast differs than a complete fast because you are still eating, but it is a complete overhaul of what you allow into your body. The purpose of the fast is not only for the health benefits, which there will be. But to allow your flesh to submit to your spirit, which is submitting to God’s will in your life. Jesus knew the power of submitting to the will of God, even when it was uncomfortable and difficult:
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”Luke 22:42 ESV
Today, I want to touch on a few things about this fast:
- The Purpose
- The Benefits
- Why You Should Do It
The main purpose is to submit your will to God. As Christians, it will always be good for us to find ways to submit our flesh to our spirit and to His Spirit. This is a lifelong process as Christians, the battle of the flesh and the spirit (Romans 7). The Daniel Fast is a dedicated time of purposeful submission of good things in our lives for God things. Good is the biggest enemy of great. God has wonderful things for you and me, but we need to learn to tune out all distractions and allow ourselves to hear clearly from Him. One of the best ways to open this line of communication is to remove a big distraction (food and drink) and make a concerted effort to focus on the One who really matters!
The benefits of this fast vary, with both direct and indirect benefits. The Daniel Fast’s purpose is not (Biblically) for health benefits, but you will absolutely see those! When meat, dairy, sugar and alcohol are removed from your diet for 3 weeks, you will undoubtedly see changes in your body. You will lose weight, look better, and FEEL better.
Another benefit, is the strengthening of your spirit. As I mentioned in previous paragraphs, when you submit your flesh to your spirit, good things happen. You train yourself to listen and obey to His Spirit, instead of what makes you feel good now (YOLO). Our battle as Christians is often against spiritual things, not physical. The Daniel Fast is training ground to practice control over your body.
The most important benefit of the fast, however, is the line of communication developed between you and God. Unfortunately, this is a benefit most miss because it is not intentionally sought. Anyone can do an eating plan and see physical results. Most are strong enough to fast and abstain from food and drink for a time, but the overall purpose is a combination of those two things, WHILE SEEKING GOD PURPOSEFULLY AND INTENTIONALLY!
When Daniel was fasting, he made it a point to pray without ceasing, always looking to honor and submit to God. Especially in the midst of turmoil and persecution. The most important purpose of the fast is to align your spirit, mind and body with God and to train yourself to hear from God. This is done through your time of prayer when relying on God to provide strength to carry on. Our prayer during this fast is vital, because in those times of conversation with the Holy Spirit, He will speak.
Many use the fast as a way to seek wisdom and direction for their lives. Daniel and his friends certainly needed both of these as they were learning how to live in a new country, under new leadership and under a religion not honoring the God of Heaven. Daniel and his friends’ actions would have been reckless without the guidance of God, which they found through a time of fasting, submission and saying no to the flesh. But because they relied on God and God alone, they survived the fiery furnace and the lion’s den!
The God of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is also the God of YOU! If God will do this in the lives of these young men, He will do something amazing in your life as well! Are you willing to submit your flesh to His will and seek Him? This is a good recipe of God moving in mighty ways in your life!
If you haven’t already figured out, there are many reasons you should consider doing the fast. But, the choice has to be yours. Being forced to participate in this will make it nearly impossible to get what God wants and what you need. So, it all comes down to asking yourself a few questions:
- What am I lacking in my life and how can this fast give me what I desire?
- Does God want me to do this fast?
- What will be my biggest obstacle to doing this fast well?
- Why do I want/need to participate in this fast?
There is still much to say about this fast, its purpose, how to do it, etc. etc. etc. After (nearly) completing this once again, I think it important to encourage anyone who reads this to start learning more about this fast and then asking God for direction and purpose. God wants to do amazing things through and with you, and setting aside time to train ourselves, hear from God and submit to His will only propel us closer to the wonderful works and ministry God has in store for each of our lives.
I believe this is something EVERY Christian should do. God is faithful and will show up and speak to you in ways you have yet to experience. What if your breakthrough is found in this fast? What if God gives you such clear direction for your life and the decisions you need to make through this fast? What if God wants to prepare you, not only spiritually but physically, to do wonderful works through this fast?
Once thing is for certain: God will speak to you. You will be changed in many ways, for the better! It will be difficult. It will take planning. It will take sacrifice. It will take you learning how to say “NO” to yourself. It will take a lot. But nothing of value in this life comes easily. Doing great things starts with laying down your will, and picking up God’s will. And to do God’s will, we must learn to get out of the way, lay down our fleshly desires and live by the Spirit!
“Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.”Dwight L. Moody