“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” – (Daniel 1:8 KJV)https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Daniel-1-8 1-14/
Our church did the Daniel fast for 21 days this month. Perfect timing after all the christmas festivities and I guess, beneficial to those who want to do the fast to coincide with New years resolutions, weight loss and getting physically fitter too.
What is the Daniel Fast?
In the Old Testament book of Daniel we see him rejecting the rich foods of the King and asking to be granted permission by the chief of staff to not eat foods he felt would be unacceptable.
Daniel did not want to eat the king’s delicacies because he believed it would defile his body. So, Daniel asked the king to test him for 10 days by allowing him and his friends – Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah to live on a diet of only vegetables and water and then compare them with the young men eating the royal food.
“Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegeatbles and water, at the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” – (Daniel 1:12-13 NLT)
After the 10 days were over, Daniel and his friends looked stronger and also healthier so they were then permitted to continue eating in this way instead of the food and wine provided for the others. It is from this biblical teaching that the Daniel fast has evolve in modern day society.
In verse 17 it tells us that God gave Daniel and his friends the understanding of all literature and wisdom and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. So, the Daniel fast is often beneficial for us as Christians to help us clear our minds, purge our indulgencies and draw closer to God. I know when my mind is clear I hear God more clearly.
“As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literatire and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” – (Daniel 1:17 ESV)
Later in Chapter 10 we see Daniel taking on a longer fasting period of 21 days. During this time he is given a vision that only he can see; “A man dressed in linen with a belt of pure gold around his waist” – (Daniel 10:4-6). Whilst his friends run in fear, Daniel stands firm and listens to the news bought to him. He is called a “man of quality” and for me the Daniel fast has given me QUALITY over QUANTITY in my life. Quality bible time, Quality connections, Quality time with God, Quality and even satisfaction in my work.
Okay…I’m on board, So what can I eat?
- All beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Herbs and Spices
- Water (clean, filtered)
- Almond milk, coconut milk, macadamia milk, coconut water, coconut kefir, and fresh green juices with no added ingredients including preservatives.
- Organic herbal teas
- Coffee is not recommended on the Daniel Fast. However, if you do consume coffee, limit it to one cup per day. It is also important to drink organic and mold-free coffee,preferably decaffinated too.
This seems tougher then Lent…What am I giving up?
The Daniel fast is vegan in nature and therefore excludes the following:
- All meat and animal products including but not limited to beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish
- All dairy products including but not limited to milk, cheese, cream, butter, and eggs
- All sugars and sweeteners including but not limited to honey, syrups, molasses, date, honey, agave, and cane juice
- All leavened bread including Ezekiel Bread (this contains both honey and yeast) and baked goods -that means no doughnuts, pastries etc and don’t even think about the cakes and biscuits
- All refined and processed food products including but not limited to artificial flavorings, food additives, chemicals, white rice, white flour, and foods that contain artificial preservatives
- All hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated fats and highly processed oils (margarine, shortening, canola oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, rice bran oil, cottonseed oil, sesame oil, and peanut oil) – So start ordering the olive oil (this is the preferred oil of choice in my home anyway
- All fast foods -Goodbye KFC, McDonalds etc
- Beverages including but not limited to carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol. Some people even forgo Teas and coffee too
When completing this fast myself over the popular 21-day format, I found that it significantly improved my health. Instead of reaching for the usual “pick me ups” chocolate, crisps, chips and all the sweet things I turned more to healthier snacks my smoothies , dried fruits, cucumbers with hummus and although the first week found me feeling a little dizzy and faint from the inevitable sugar crash it also allowed me to remember the enjoyment of the healthy snacks that I favoured in my youth. I definately developed a sweeter tooth in adulthod, especially when moving as I guess on occasion boredom set in nd I’d just reach for alll of the sncks in the snack box.
Mental and Spiritual Benefits
Last year I watched far to much tv. The move to the Netherlands definately was a shock to the system and I felt bouts of homesickness, sadness, loneliness, depression, anxiety – you name it. It became all to easy for the devil to use this season of uncertainty in my life to keep me at a standstill in growing. I became disillusioned in my work life, found faults with every aspect of myself,Julian and our relationship, my social circle was very small to all but non existant and I used Netflix as a way to escape how I was feeling inside. The way I saw it – if I keep my mind “busy” I wouldn’t have to look inside of myself and acknowledge those feelings of sadness,lose and unbelief. So for the first half of 2019, I would do my part-time job (which I hated) and then come home and binge watch season after season of tv series until Julian came home. I wasn’t engaging with God in deep and meaningful ways and I often would read a bible plan, but take nothing away from it. Like I was reading the words just to read them. But I couldn’t see my mind was too busy being fed with the wrong kind of thoughts, the wrong kind of TV, the wrong kind of growth. It was a growth that was killing me and this fast has helped me to WAKE UP! to the devils scheme. He had me in a sleep and I wasn’t listening for God’s voice. I wasn’t wearing my armour. I was allowng the devil to pierce through my mind and cover me in lies.
“I wasn’t wearing the armour of God and had definately stopped wield my sword of truth. I was trying to fight the devil alone and with no armour.”
Then towards the middle of the year things looked up. I had a good group of sisters in christ to do life with. We’d hang together, eat, pray, study God’s word and just love one another. I also took my first steps into entrepreneurship and I felt I was connecting again. But business was slow, and I am not the best at being patient in God’s promises. Besides, I had the seed of doubt firmly planted in my mind and had not yet rebuked the spirit of fear.
As quickly as I got up the devil found new and interesting ways to knock me back down. I say new and interesting, but he basically said the same thing in a different way. Then I began the Danel fast on the 5th January and it was like I began to get peace in my thoughts and my mind. If I felt negative, I took the time to pray with God rebuke it and counter claim with the TRUTH that God had given to me. I’d read my bible more, I’d bookmark scripture and pray it out aloud. The devils voice got quieter and God’s got louder. Not to say he won’t continue scheming, but without all the cravings for unhealthy foods my mind became clearer. I was beocming helathier phsycially (I craved gym workouts),mentally (I rekindled my love of all things bookish) and spiritually (My God has never been so great) and I loved it.
So, I have to say this fast has been so beneficial to both my mental and spiritual health. Many people see this as a great weightloss scheme and a way to get closer to God. For me it helped me to find the breakthrough. Without being delibrate about it, once I began the Daniel fast and praying with God more regularly and more intentionally. The way I went about my day changed drastically. I stopped watching TV.
“The Daniel fast has helped me to see breakthrough in my life.” – (Aisha Rebecca)
One evening in the second week when discussing how we were both finding the Daniel fast (seriously-you don’t realise how much sugar you have until you stop having sugar), I looked back over week one and the beginning of week two and turned to Julian and said “WOW! I hadn’t even realised how I didn’t come in from my morning work and instantly reach for the remote and a ton of snacks.” I had unintentionally fasted from TV and began using my time to do things I’d forgotten I’d enjoyed. I went to the gym more often and thorughly enjoyed my workouts, I was making notes in my prayer jounral, I was seeking God with a purpose to asking him what next? I worked harder at my business and began to write more often. My blog, my articles, my poetry. It all just flowed, like God just gave me the words I needed and I felt happier.
“I have begun seeking God with intentionality and purpose.”
The way I spoke to Julian changed and I’m sure he’d say the same. We stopped taking our bad moments out on each other, our conversation skills improved, we share more we are willing to be more vulnerable and our hearts have just overflowed in loving and supporting each other on our walks. Whether in God, work, making our house a home, our mutual care of a fur-baby and trying to integrate into dutch society and make deep and meaningful connections. It’s a slow process, but its happening. The promises God showed me years ago are already forming and taking shape and they always were, but the difference now is I’m seeing and thinking so much more clearly. I’m believing without doubt and fear. I’m praying like God already answered.
Yes, the Daniel fast has been a great start to my 2020 and I dare say I’ll be incorporating it into my prayer life periodically going forward. In John 8:32 it says “…the truth shall set you free.” and I am definately in a more freeing mental and spiritual place. Besides, I got new ab muscles to boot. Bonus!
Have you done the Daniel fast before? How did you find it and would you do it again? What other fasts would you recommend for me to try and review?