I’ve been on the Daniel Fast for one year now.
What is the Daniel Fast?
For me it means:
--Drink only water
--Eat no meat
--Eat no bread
--Eat no sweets
--Eat nothing fried.
Yesterday a friend at church asked me, “As you look back over the year, what do you think you’ve learned from this fast?”
I’ll get to that, but first let’s go back to the beginning. In January 2007 our church announced a Daniel Fast for the first three weeks of the year, and I decided to do it.
For the first 2 ½ days I had a strange headache. I am not prone to headaches, and I’ve never had a headache that lasted from one day into the next. It wasn’t terrible, just a dull pain. I guess my body was detoxing from, what? Sugar? Caffeine? I don’t know.
Then the headache went away, and I’ve not had a headache since. Sometimes I used to get headaches in the afternoon, which I chalked up to too much time in front of a computer. But since I went on the Daniel Fast I have had no such headaches.
Sometime during the first few days I felt like I should take it to another level, to Daniel Fast all year.
“Wow,” some people said, “You sure have a lot of self discipline.” No, not really. I believe God called me to do it, then He empowered me to do it. It was not hard at all.
I must say, in the beginning I spent a lot of time hungry. I had cut a lot out of my diet, but didn’t have enough to replace it.
I came across this little phrase from Hemingway, “the discipline of hunger.” He said his thinking was sharper and his writing better when he was hungry.
I thought of Ben Franklin’s maxim, “Eat not to dullness.” Too much eating dulls our brain, while controlled hunger sharpens it.
Jesus said we must deny ourselves. Our pastor said, “We are sacrificing the things that are pleasant in this world...”
Sometimes we look up and say, “God, please work in my life.” But then we are unwilling to deny ourselves a single thing.
It was five months into the fast when I realized the greatest effect it had on me. At that time I wrote this: “My thoughts are more under control. There is less impulsive thinking. More peace. I am more settled in my mind. More faith.”
The thing that really hit me was, “There is less impulsive thinking.”
Now let me say, I was never one to be hooked on a certain food or drink. I know people who always have a soda to sip on, or coffee, or their daily ration of chocolate. Not me. I was chained to nothing. Or was I?
Even though it was not one certain thing, I realized that many times each day I would impulsively grab something to eat or drink. My mind would suddenly flash the message, “Oh, I need a Coke.” “Oh, I need a cup of coffee.” “Wow, you know what I could really use right now? A burger and fries!” After every meal I impulsively reached for something sweet.
I had no idea how often I was interrupted by thoughts of food and drink. It was a stunning realization. I was not overweight. I’ve never been on a diet in my life. And yet in certain ways food had a controlling effect on me. My brain would flash the message, “I gotta have it,” and I would jump to obey.
When I talk about the Daniel Fast, most people look at it like a good diet plan. Yes, it can be that, but I encourage everyone who does it to ignore the health benefits and focus on the spiritual benefits.
Paul told Timothy, “…bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable unto all things…” Why focus on that which “profiteth little?” Godliness profits in every way, including in physical health.
Now after a year of the Daniel Fast I feel more disciplined and self controlled. I feel closer to God, and less prone to give in to impulsive thinking, both in food and other ways.
So I highly recommend the Daniel Fast. But if that’s not for you, I still encourage you to find something you can deny yourself in this coming year. If you can’t do it for yourself, then offer it up as a sacrifice to God.