The Daniel Fast: Why, How, and is it Real Fasting?
John L. Fonzer
We participate in a 30-day fast once a year called disciplined eating. The principle came from the Daniel fast. Fasting helps our spirit by slowing down the body and mind while the soul thinks of spiritual things. The frequency of fasting should be thought of as one sets goals. The better controlled the body is, the greater the accomplishments of the spirit in that vessel.
I am yet to meet a person I felt fasted too much, but I have met many, I feel don’t fast enough to make a difference in his or her walk with God.
Steven L. Thompson
Daniel’s fast was twofold. One, he saw a vision of war. Two, he was trying to prove to the king that the king’s food was not the best for his health. It was actually more of an actual diet plan than a spiritual journey. The other side of the Daniel fast was, not only did he not eat meat, pleasant breads and seasoning on his food, but he also didn’t shave or bathe for three weeks.
I use the Daniel fast at our church. I personally use fasting to align me in areas of fleshly challenges, and to help maneuver around desires that feed my emotional, mental and physical imbalances.
The book of Daniel documents two examples: 1 was for 10 days (Daniel 1:12), the other was for 21 days (Daniel 10:3), in which Daniel refused to eat appetite-pleasing foods. Our church participated in the Daniel Fast in multiple ways. Every year we had a “Faith-Filled February” in which over 60% of the congregation completed at least 10 days of a Daniel Fast. Some would do 21 days.
Participating in a Daniel Fast teaches believers how to say no to the things that please them. Our church had several group-discussions in which members commented that a Daniel Fast was much more difficult than a traditional fast because it is much easier to say “no” to everything than to intentionally say “no” to specific foods. It takes much more planning and effort which has been very beneficial to their Christian growth and discipleship. Members also commented on how much easier it was to read their Bible daily, pray, and worship while they were on the Daniel Fast.
I encouraged everyone to fast 40 days a year. A 10-Day Daniel Fast in February plus two – three days a month in the other 11 months.
Fasting is essential for spiritual and discipleship growth. We used it to disciple well over 100 new members in a 9-year period. Every new member that completed the recommended Daniel Fasts demonstrated much more stability in their growth. We documented over 40 physical and emotional miracles during our “Faith-Filled Februarys”, including 2 major heart conditions, pancreatic cancer, Crohn’s Disease, prescription-medication addictions deliverances, and more.
Two years ago, we specifically presented the Daniel fast.
Fasting serves to bring us closer to the Lord, block out the noise of our flesh–and it gets our flesh not to be so bossy.
I pray this is not the case, but my feeling is if fasting is not being presented much today it has to do with the pastor: his own personal conviction and his own frequency in doing it. It’s something even we as pastors struggle with in our own lives. To present that to other people when you are struggling with it yourself can be difficult.
San Diego CA
I’ve taken from that story of Daniel, but we don’t try to duplicate what Daniel and the Hebrew Boys ate on their fast. I’m not sure that’s even possible. The underlying principle of every fast, though, is self-denial.
Although you don’t use the word fun as it relates to fasting, it has been a fun experience. The first year we did it for 21 days. Now we don’t have a timeframe. Surprisingly we have a high percentage of the people in the church participate in this fast and not drop out. Whereas with other fast, we start out with some commitments and we almost never get 100%. People tend to drop out from an absolute fast and even a hard Daniel Fast.
One week we’ll fast meat. Another week we’ll fast sweets. Another week we fast bread. Another week is a media fast. That’s a hard one. Another week maybe we will fast caffeine. That’s the hardest week. Last year we added shopping.
For some people one week might be a piece of cake, but to another it’s a challenge. You get this fun interaction with people in the same family. We’ve had a great time with it. Fasting is something we look forward to, not something we dread.
I believe a saint should fast weekly. My dad always said the Pharisees would fast two meals a week. Jesus said unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
I don’t know that the Daniel Fast is explicitly supported in scripture. In Daniel 1, the Hebrew boys refused to eat out of a conviction that he would be defiled. In Daniel chapter 10, Daniel was mourning a vision.
However, the Daniel Fast is a wonderful way to deny your flesh and consecrate your life, and I do believe God honors it. We’ve used this fast for a duration of a few days to 40 days.
Maybe fasting isn’t emphasized as much because there’s the idea that fasting is for spiritual gurus. Maybe we are not attracted to descending for the purpose of spiritual greatness. Maybe, too, we have lost the meaning and the wonder of what it accomplishes.