We are not accustomed to suffering. We live in a world of instant gratification; we avoid even the slightest discomfort.
So when we hear someone talk about fasting, we place all sorts of assumptions that they are some health fanatic, Jesus freak, or who knows what else. But the reality is that fasting has been a regular part of the Christian faith, and our Biblical story up until the last century. Most adult believers that I have talked to, have never fasted. In fact, most have never even been taught about fasting in church. That makes sense, because I have been at Faith Community since 2004 and we have taught and discussed Zero times, despite it being a semi-regular practice in my own life.
Fasting is the voluntary act of physically putting on grief. It is practiced, in scripture, as a response to three different scenarios of life:
- AHA moment or redefining moment of faith (Exodus 34. 27-28, 1 Kings 19 1-18, Luke 4. 1-13, Acts 13.1-3)
- To rid oneself or community of sinfulness (1 Samuel 7.2-6, Jonah 3, Ezra 9, Joel 2.12-13)
- Tragic calamity or grief (Psalm 35, 2 Samuel 1, 12, Nehemiah 1, Esther 4)
By fasting, we allow our mental and emotional pain to be met with a physical pain and hunger; where as we typically try to bury, numb, escape, or distract ourselves from it. Fasting allows us to address the pain in a practical way that can bring healing results, clarity, and strength.
Last year leading up to Lent, Jada and Asher wanted to participate in a fast. They’d known that I typically did one and wanted to attempt it for themselves. I know they couldn’t do a water or juice fast with the level of involvement they have with their sports. So I began to research other options, which is when I remembered the Daniel Fast. The Daniel Fast is a limited fast. The Daniel Fast is based upon the prophet Daniel’s experiences as recorded in the Bible. Basically it is a fast where participants eat only fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains for a certain amount of time and abstaining from meat products.
The idea behind the Daniel Fast is not to duplicate Daniel’s menu but to imitate his spiritual hunger. Daniel’s passion for the Lord caused him to seek spiritual food rather than physical food, which should be the desire for anyone doing the Daniel Fast.
During the Lenten season, we’ll be inviting the Faith Family to join in a Daniel Fast. I’ll be teaching about the process of the Daniel fast for the next three Sundays to help prepare us for it. On the final week, we’ll have a chance for folks to make a commitment to God, to themselves, and to one another.
In addition, you may want to begin preparing and exploring in various ways for the fast. Here are some suggestions to help you do so:
- Do some reading and research on the Daniel Fast. Two website that I’d recommend are: ultimatedanielfast.com and daniel-fast.com.
- Talk to your doctor. The Daniel Fast is a very healthy diet with few if any side-effects. But you should always check with your doctor before changing your diet drastically.
- What is your motivation for fasting? What might God be inviting you to consider?
- How would you describe your obedience to God?
- What do you desire in your relationship with God and your faith?
- What are 3 major issues that cause you concern in your life?
- What new habits would you like to form?
- What fears do you have about practicing fasting?
- What unforgiveness do you harbor that you haven’t dealt with?
- What areas are “out of order” in your life?
- What questions do you have? Or what question didn’t we ask? Send those to Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Read Isaiah 58, Exodus 34, 1 Kings 19, or Matthew 4
- Find and discuss with a community to encourage and admonish you as you consider and as you make this journey
- Journal your journey
- Begin to practice now: cutting out certain foods, 1 meal, 2 meals, 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours, 48 hours.