It was never forced into our doctrine of beliefs as a necessary element to Christianity. In fact, Fasting in a completely voluntary act. While leaders may invite persons to join in a time of corporate prayer and fasting for a specific goal and timeframe, the fact remains that fasting could never be compulsory. It's a personal choice to make in your faith to abstain from anything.
So, while it was always taught as a powerful element in aligning our body, soul, and spirit with our Heavenly Father, we made the choice to practice it as individuals.
There were years in my youth where every Wednesday I would fast sunup-sundown for my generation.
There were seasons of fasting for moves of God in our midst.
And there were times where I felt compelled by the spirit to fast personally to grow in my relationship with my Father.
The Daniel's Fast is one of the latter.
Yes, practicing it at the beginning of a year is most definitely a learned habit. But it's one I have never regretted.
Giving time at the start of a new year to abstain from earthly desires and instead fill those places with prayer and God's word? Has never proven to be worthless.
In fact, it's in the sacrifice of the firstfruits that God seems to pour out even greater blessings and brings renewed vision and revelation in my life.
It's here that I am able to say "God, I love you more than anything in this world" with sacrifice on my lips and truly hear His responses to my heart's cry.
So what does it look like in my life?
First, my disclaimers:
There are so many versions and ideologies and doctrines that dictate how a person fasts or whether a person fasts or how they interpret the Bible or whether they think I am interpreting it wrong.
I don't really care about all that. And honestly? I don't think God does either.
God is concerned with the condition of our hearts so even if we falter in our interpretation of the original Hebrew meanings of specific words used to designate Daniel's actual fasts? That's not nearly as importatant as the reasons why we are pursuing the fast in the first place.
That being said. I was taught and brought up (by spiritual leaders that I still greatly admire, respect, and love...and therefore---follow) that there are three principles that governed the ideas surrounding the creation of the Daniel's Fast.
1. Abstain from meats and pleasant foods
2. Drink only water
3. Fast at least three weeks
In Daniel 1, Daniel asks to be given a diet in line with his Hebrew beliefs (therefore no royal foods or wine) and was given a diet of vegetables and water. At the end of a testing period, Daniel and his men were stronger and in better appearance than any others. God had blessed their decision to abstain from the royal cuisines.
This is where we get the fruits, vegetables, and water piece of what we consider Daniel's Fast.
Later, in Daniel 10, we see the Prophet fasting for three weeks from choice foods, meats and wine. God heard the prayers of Daniel while he was humbled and pure in fasting and prayer and responded with a vision from the Lord.
This is where the abstention from meats and sweets, as well as the timeframe comes from.
Basically for the month of January, as a time of firstfruit sacrifice and as an opportunity to realign my affections to God above all over things, I choose to fast from meats, pleasant foods (sweets), and all drinks besides water.
Here are my personal "differences" in how I approach my fast. I will still eat grains, some cheese, and eggs as part of my diet. There is no Biblical backing for that. It's my personal choice as I know my deficiencies and how terrible I am at consistently taking vitamins.
So there you have it. The reasons I have chosen to say "Yes" to
There are many great articles, sites, and books examining the Daniel's Fast and I am more than happy to link a few for you to research. (see below).
I, however, was blessed to be spiritually raised in a house where fasting was a natural element and I choose to follow that which I was brought up under.
As I said before, God cares more about our the condition of our hearts anyways...
So, whether you or not you choose to participate in Daniel's Fast this year, I would ask you to at least examine a fasted lifestyle as part of your faith's foundation. I have found no greater source of clarity and renewed fervor for my Lord than in the seasons where I sense natural hunger pangs and fill them with spiritual food instead!
Final Disclaimer: I am aware of the scripture in Matthew regarding fasting in secret and not boasting. I sincerely hope and pray that this message did not come across as boastful or proud. I prayerfully considered the reasons for writing about this important piece of my faith and I pray it touches someone's heart to the point of at least examining the benefits of living a fasted lifestyle.
“Fasting begets prophets and strengthens strong men. Fasting makes lawgivers wise; it is the soul's
safeguard, the body’s trusted comrade, the armor of the champion, the training of the athlete.”
—Basil, Bishop of Caesarea (AD 330–379)
“Fasting . . . opens the way for the outpouring of the Spirit and the restoration of God’s house. Fasting in this age of the absent Bridegroom is in expectation of His return. Soon there will be the midnight cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ It will be too late then to fast and to pray. The time is now.”
—God's Chosen Fast, Arthur Wallis