THE DANIEL FAST
Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:14-15
Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
King Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of the Ancient Babylonian Empire, once sent his army marching into Jerusalem. After securing a tremendous victory, the army returned to Babylon with many prisoners in tow, among whom was Daniel, a devout, God-fearing teenager. Soon after, Nebuchadnezzar instructed his ministers to select handsome, healthy, and intelligent young men from among the captives and bring them to the palace to teach them Babylonian culture and traditions so that they could be of use in his service. One of them was Daniel.
Right off, Daniel faced a problem. Nebuchadnezzar had dictated that the new trainees were to be served the same food and wine that was served on the royal table. While this would have flattered most young men, Daniel was shocked. He was a vegetarian who drank only water, and he resolved to consume nothing the king was offering. Why? One, because the food would have been offered to idols (a good enough reason for him to refuse). Two, because the richness of the food would have led to laziness, which in turn would have ended his powerful prayer life. Ever try praying on a full stomach? (Or try doing anything else for that matter?)
Daniel is probably one of the best examples of the virtues of fasting. Fasting helps us to conquer the desire of our flesh. Consequently, Daniel led a life pleasing to God. When his enemies, jealous of the favor he had with the king, tried to find something they could accuse him of, they discovered nothing (see Daniel 6:4). Wouldn't it nice to lead a life like that? Fasting also serves as a great aid to prayer and meditation. How? Well, it demonstrates the depth of our desire for something, and when this "something" is spiritual, then God notices that we are serious enough about our request to pay a personal price.
On one occasion, Daniel fasted for 21 days, depriving himself of choice food. The fast resulted in his prayers being answered and in wonderful spiritual insights. To quote Daniel: "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" (Daniel 10:3). He then had a vision of a man, who touched him, setting him trembling on his hands and knees. The man said, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them" (Daniel 10:12).
Wanna do a Daniel Fast this Lent? Eat only fruits, vegetables, and nuts; drink only water or fruit juice; and avoid all sweeteners, breads, and dairy products for 21 days. Pray for deliverance from a particular bondage and see how the stronghold breaks! And, as an added bonus, you’d be a lot fitter than when you started.