God is asking you to do a spiritual house cleaning, a purging of soul, if you will. The most effective method as noted in Scripture is found in Matthew 6:1-18. God gives three essential disciplines for the believer, the last being fasting. The Scripture states, “When you give, when you pray, AND when you fast.” There is evidence to suggest that fasting was part of the believer’s everyday experience in the early church. Sadly, this spiritual discipline is almost completely gone in today’s Modern Church, but God gives tangible rewards to those who seek Him in this manner as found in Matthew:
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father,
who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Private Disciplines result in Public Rewards
Consider the benefits of fasting at the start of this year:
1 You will find Him in the secret place.
2 Answers await you in the secret place.
3 You’ll feel His presence in the secret place.
4 Worry is released in the secret place.
5 Your soul surrenders in the secret place.
6 You’ll see new dreams in the secret place.
7 Rubbish is removed in the secret place.
The danger for the Christian is becoming carnal. We live in a dirty world and its getting into our “temples.” God is asking you to take the trash out as Hezekiah did! When you become a carnal Christian that neglects the Word of God and treats God’s house as though it’s some plaything then something is wrong. You’ve accumulated so much of the world that your heart is no longer receptive and sensitive to the Holy Spirit. And when you fast, He takes the trash out and His presence comes back. This year, at the start, seek His presence through fasting. Miracles are waiting as you do!
The Daniel Fast, which is a very popular fast, is based on scripture found in a few different verses of the book of Daniel, but none greater than in the first chapter of Daniel. During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, who was king of Babylon at the time, several Israelites, including Daniel were asked to join the king’s service, making them eligible to partake of the royal food and wine presented. The problem Daniel faced was that this same food and drink were also offered up to the Babylonian’s idols that were worshipped during that day.
Daniel 1:8 explains that Daniel did not want to defile himself with the king’s meat and drink. It goes on to say Daniel asked that he, along with three others, be put on a 10-day test, eating nothing but vegetables and drinking only water. Then let their appearances be compared to the king’s other servants who ate the king’s food, and see who was more fit. After the ten days, their appearance and features were much better than the other servants. "As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams" (Daniel 1:15).
Daniel proved by his actions that this type of “fast” had all the earmarks of giving someone greater health and a sharper mind. The Daniel Fast is a biblically based partial fast that omits any type of meats, sugars, and processed foods. Sorry, but steaks, cookies, and your favorite ice cream are three items you will not find at your local Daniel Fast restaurant franchise. On the menu, however, you will find fruits, vegetables, and water. To put it simply, if it comes out of the ground, it is on the Daniel fast menu.
While we agree that the emphasis written so far is on what you are to eat and not eat, this by no means is meant to be legalistic in nature or that a particular set of rules exist or must be followed. We fast because we seek a more intimate relationship with God. We fast because we want to honor God with our first fruits of the new year, and to thank Him for what He has already done and what He will do in our lives in the future. We fast because for many of us we have lost sight of who God is and need to come back to Him, to put Him first in everything we do (Matt 6:33). We fast to praise his worthy name and the investment He made for us in saving mankind—the sacrifice of his son, Jesus.
With this said, we should look at a few specifics concerning the Daniel Fast. Education is crucial to understand fasting and for you to have the best possible experience with your individual fast. While each topic listed below is a chapter within itself, and certainly not the definitive list of all food types, we will give some very basics. None of the following are fasting disqualifiers, and in fact, a critical and judgmental spirit is a far greater danger. However if you must err, err to the side of grace. Most important of all is to stick to your fast to get the full benefits you desire.
Spices and Condiments
The technical answer is that the Daniel Fast implies only food that comes from the ground. However, since salt and most spices come from the ground or plants, technically these fall into this category as acceptable. A salad dressing, however, or ketchup and mustard, are processed foods. Oil and Vinegar is a much better option. Look at it this way: when in doubt, don’t. (Matt 23:24). Moderation, wisdom, and the right motives will give you the greater purpose of what your fast is calling you to do.
The technical answer to this question would be no. Dairy products come from an animal and are not plant based. However, there are numerous plant-based substitutes such as soy or almond that you can use if you need help adding flavor or texture to your food.
Coffee and Tea
Oh, I know many of you have been waiting for this category. Coffee comes from a bean and tea is plant-based as well, however with caffeine there is a risk when it comes from a change in diet. Caffeine is a stimulant and may have a different effect with a more plant-based diet. On the other hand, many people who fast insist on eliminating their favorite drink as part of the sacrifice. In the strictest understanding of a Daniel Fast, if Daniel didn’t eat or drink it, we shouldn’t either. Do what you feel is the right thing for you. A quick side note: anytime you stop drinking caffeine, expect a strong headache for the first three days as your body rids itself of the toxins you have consumed over time.
Artificial Sweeteners may make food or drink more palatable, but the word artificial should be a give-away. Even medical science agrees that artificial sweeteners are unhealthy and can actually be worse than sugar, let your heart be your guide and let the Holy Spirit do the tugging on your use or not. Don’t forget, fasting is a sacrifice.
Yes, sugar free sodas contain no sugar, but they certainly were not a part of the fast Daniel talked about. You will need to exercise your free will mixed with wisdom. The goal of a fast is to deny the flesh, so eliminating soda from your fast would make sense. Denying yourself is part of the process and sticking to water and some real fruit juice would make logical sense.
Many people on a fast are concerned they will not get enough protein, which is normal for cell structure and function. Naturally, protein is found in meat, eggs, and milk, three of the fasting “no’s.” As you recall, these come from animals not from the ground. There are alternatives to these to receive the protein you are afraid of losing: almonds, tofu, and beans. Legumes, such as a variety of beans, lentils, and peas, are a great source of fiber, while fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals.
As each person’s health issues and concerns are unique to only him or her there is no single answer that fits every person. When it comes to vitamins and other supplements, different people have more sensitive stomachs than others. Use wisdom and let your stomach be your guide and take it slow. Follow the recommended instruction about taking medication or vitamins with food, and always consult your physician before fasting if you are on prescribed medication or have health concerns.
As it relates to the Daniel Fast, you will likely be getting more vitamins and minerals the way God intended, through the healthy foods you eat!