The Daniel Fast–Are we really denying ourselves?

A fast that God approves
A fast that God approves

Many individuals, as well as churches, begin each new year with a 21-day Daniel Fast in January. While fasting is a great way to begin the year, I want to examine our motives for selecting the Daniel Fast.

A couple of years ago I joined in our church-wide 21-day Daniel Fast. When I looked online I was surprised to see many Daniel Fast Cookbooks (some even offered approved “dessert” recipes.)  I ordered a cookbook and began to prepare for the fast by selecting recipes I would use.  Then I began shopping, prepared to read every single food label on the ingredient list to make sure I didn’t transgress the “no additives” rule of fasting. In the end, I  spent way too much time and money at a health food supermarket.

During the fast, I also spent more time preparing my Daniel Fast recipes than I would have spent preparing my usual meals, and in my spirit I knew something was not right:

  • Instead of using my fasting time to pray and read Scripture, I was spending it trying new “Daniel Fast-approved” recipes.
  • I was allowing my fast to become legalistic, seeking to adhere to the approved food list (which varies with each Daniel Fast cookbook).
  • I was merely “substituting” approved foods instead of really denying my flesh and humbling myself before God, which are the two key components of a God-approved fast.

I sadly believe that the “Daniel Fast,” as adopted by our current Christian and church culture, has become “commercialized” and a “fad” that can become merely  a substitute for a true fast. This may not be true in your experience using the Daniel Fast. It truly is a matter between you and God.  The real issue is our motive: are we truly humbling ourselves, seeking God, denying our flesh? Or are we simply trying to make fasting as palatable as possible? Only you can answer those questions.

(For more on fasting, see my book, LORD, IT’S BORING IN MY PRAYER CLOSET (How to Revitalize your Prayer Life–available at and kindle at:

One comment

  1. Interesting perspective. I think anything that we begin to allow to become legalistic detracts from the effectiveness.It also depends on what your diet is like typically. If you eat meat at every meal then going without is a pretty big deal. I know it was for us when we did a 10 day purification/fast the last two years.In the end it is all in how we approach these things in our hearts that I believe to be the most important. God bless you.


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