The Goal of Fasting
The principle of fasting is one that is consistently observed throughout the Scriptures. Every time people fasted, it had always been with the same goal in mind – to draw closer to God.
The Scriptures mention a few times men and women sought to seek God with a hunger that was spiritual yet physically exerted. They embarked on a spiritual journey that was physically validated.
Whether people were having a fast because of a depressing situation, like Esther, or they were doing it out of a desire to get answers, like Daniel, it was all channeled toward God.
It is a worthwhile and noble act to fast in order to break the limit to interacting with God, in a bid to see more clearly. Fasting is a spiritual exercise worthy of emulation. The Bible says,
Mat 4:4 …“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
It is also important to know that fasting did not end with Jesus’ resurrection and propitiation as many have erroneously believed. The Bible records many other instances where the early believers fasted. For instance,
Act 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
So, fasting is very much valid for the modern Christian as well.
Types of Fast
Sometimes, people fast by abstaining from food and water totally for varying periods of time. We see the extended form of this type of fast with Moses, Elijah, and Jesus.
At other times, a fast may be abstinence from only food for varying lengths of time. And for another type of fast, it may be eating only vegetables and water with no extra diet for a period of time.
This last type of fast is called the Daniel fast and we’ll tell you why it’s called that and how to use it in your fellowship with God.
The Daniel Fast
When we go through Scriptures, we see one type of fast that has become popular in some Christian circles – the Daniel fast.
How did the Daniel fast come about? Here’s a short story.
So, the four Hebrew boys – Daniel (Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego) – were in Babylon. These guys were captives under the King, Nebuchadnezzar.
They were among the chosen few who had potentials for serving the king. A day came when they needed to undergo a royal treatment of assorted food and wine for a season before presenting them to the king.
This was when Daniel and the other Hebrew boys made a stand, putting their faith on display. They requested that they be fed only vegetables and water as opposed to the royal delicacies of the palace.
Dan 1:12 ESV “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.”
The result? They looked better than the others who were fed with the delicacies of the king.
Dan 1:15 ESV At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food.
This was a stand for their faith and their separation from the ways of the Babylonians. Their act was a vegetable fast because they abstained from eating other foods for the time being. This was in honor to their God.
Today, we also take this type of fast in honor of God and as a symbol of our separation from the world and its ways.
Early in January, many believers will embark on the Daniel’s fast in reverence for God, seeking more strength and greater clarity for the year ahead. This is the spiritual sacrifice of a believer and it is commendable.
Here’s how to do the Daniel fast.
Foods for Daniel Fast
- Vegetables: all fresh, frozen, dried, juiced, and canned vegetables
- Fruits: all fresh, frozen, dried (with no added sugar), juiced, and canned fruits
- Whole Grains: barley, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, freekeh, oats, purple rice, wild rice, whole wheat, spelt, sorghum, rye, quinoa
- Beans and Legumes: black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts, pinto beans, split beans, black-eyed peas
- Oils: coconut, olive, sesame, etc., but not for deep-frying
- Nuts and Seeds: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, soy nuts, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pistachios, poppy seeds
- Unleavened bread, herbs, spices, and seasonings
- Beverages: water, some fruit juice, unsweetened non-dairy milk
Foods Not Proper for the Daniel Fast
- Added Sugar: foods with added sugar are not part of the diet. Foods such as brown sugar, agave, artificial sweeteners, cane juice, corn syrup, honey, sugar, molasses, etc.
- Meat: beef, fish, bison, chicken, goat, lamb, pork, turkey, mutton, etc.
- Dairy: butter, cheese, cream, milk, yogurt
- Yeast, including leavened bread
- Refined Grains: white rice, white flour
- Processed Food: such as foods with artificial flavorings, colorings, chemicals, additives, and preservatives
- Fried Food: corn chips, potato chips, French fries, fried vegetables (tempura), etc.
- Solid Fats: butter, lard, margarine, shortening
- Chocolate: milk chocolate, semi-sweet, dark, syrup, cacao
- Caffeinated Drinks
Now, you know what to eat and what to avoid. Also, you must know the spiritual and physical posture to assume.
Jesus speaks on the right conduct when fasting,
Mat 6:16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
Mat 6:17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
Mat 6:18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
As you embark on this fast, you may choose a period of time according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Each day, remember to keep your focus on God as you seek Him in spirit and truth. For God says,
Jer 29:12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
Jer 29:13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
- Biblical Weight Loss
- The Eight Laws Of Health
- Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
- Surprising Health Benefits Of Sweating
We must be conscious of the fact that our fast is not primarily to inflict pain on the body but to create a clearer path for illumination by God’s Spirit.
Have a blessed and reinvigorating fast as you prepare for a most amazing year ahead!
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