Yep, I did thing this January. I did the Daniel fast. First, let’s back up. Every year, our church begins January with 21 days of prayer and fasting. We believe it is a way to put God first for the coming year and reset and focus our spiritual lives after the busyness of the holidays. We have prayer services each morning, and it really is a wonderful and holy time. Fasting is not a requirement during these 21 days, but it is encouraged.
What is fasting?
What is fasting anyways? The dictionary defines fasting as abstaining from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance. There are lots of ways to do it as well. You can give up certain food groups (sugar and caffeine are popular choices) for a period of time, or one can decide to not eat meals during a certain times of the day. Disclaimer: please check with your health care provider before starting any type of food fast. In a broader sense, fasting can be expanded to other areas of our lives. Social media, the news cycle, etc. There are lot of things we can decide to cut out for an intentional purpose.
I’ve been participating in 21 days of prayer and fasting during the month of January for about eight years now. However, for the past seven years, I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding. Doing a strict food fast was out of the question. So, I fasted other things like coffee, Facebook, and sweets. However, I was neither pregnant nor breastfeeding this year, so I was excited to go all in and do a true fast.
The Daniel Fast
Now that we know what a fast is and why I participated in one, let’s talk about the Daniel fast. Daniel is a prophet in Jewish and Christian culture. The Old Testament of the Christian Bible contains the book of Daniel, which gives the account of Daniel, who was a Jew exiled to Babylon. I am not a religious scholar, so I am not going to go into much detail about the entire book. But in the first chapter, Daniel is being held captive. He refuses to eat the Babylonian food, as it was not prepared according to the Jewish law. Daniel commits to only eating fruits and vegetables for a period of time while focusing on praying to God. This is the basis for the modern interpretation of the Daniel fast. No animal products, no sugar, no caffeine, no leavened bread, and no processed food for (typically) 21 days.
How did it go?
Overall, I am so glad I did the Daniel fast! I learned so much about myself. My relationship with the Lord grew deeper. I gained confidence and clarity in what He is calling me to do during this season of my life. Physically, the fast was not nearly as difficult as I anticipated. Well, minus that intense caffeine withdrawal, but that only lasted about three days. I kicked the sugar cravings that had a hold on me (ahem….nightly bowl of ice cream). I also lost a little bit of weight (SOOOO not the goal with this fast, please hear me on that), which was nice because my pants were a little tight after the holidays.
Was I hungry? Yes, sometimes I was. I think it’s a given that you will have periods of hunger after cutting out major food groups you are used to eating. But the hunger was not all consuming or difficult to deal with. I ate plenty of yummy foods and learned that bean burgers can be pretty tasty. I utilized this wonderful cookbook all throughout the fast.
Did I do the fast perfectly? No, I didn’t. But that isn’t the point when fasting for a spiritual purpose. The point is a person’s heart. Their motivation. Their reverence for the process. These are all areas of growth and maturity that can blossom when stretched. I want to know. Have you ever fasted before? How did it go?