Many churches and individuals begin the New Year with a 21-day Daniel Fast. My church has done it for the past several years and I have participated in many of them. Last year I did not because I dreaded facing weeks of preparation reading labels, spending extra money on appropriate food items, looking for recipes that were Daniel-fast approved, etc. etc. etc.
(In 2016 I wrote a post about why this approach to fasting was troubling to me—see the link below to read that post).
To me this whole modern approach to fasting seems to be the antithesis of Daniel’s motivation for fasting. Daniel 10: 1-3 says he was in mourning because of a vision: “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” (NIV)
Two things strike me about Daniel’s fast in this passage:
(1) Daniel’s motivation for fasting was about a Great War he saw in a vision. What if we entered our fast truly mourning the “Great War” the enemy is waging against our nation, our culture, our youth and the Church and crying out for God’s intervention.
(2) Just as Daniel entered his fast focusing on the spiritual by denying his flesh and refusing the king’s rich food—so our focus for fasting should be on denying our flesh and humbling ourselves—not spending our time focusing on what foods we can and can’t eat during the fast.
This year I am participating in the fast, but with a new freedom. I’m simply giving up what I personally consider my “choice, rich and pleasant foods” and focusing my attention on spending time drawing near to God in His Word, in worship and in prayer.
If you are participating in a fast this year, I suggest you search your motives and seek God for how He wants you to fast. Trust Him to lead you.
Click here to read my other post about fasting: The Daniel Fast: Are We Really Denying Ourselves?