For so incredibly long I didn’t understand the connection of food and faith.
I’ve read biblical examples for years and contemplated the idea that somehow, fasting could have a profound effect on my relationship with God. All of these thoughts (and variations of them) swirled my mind every time I gave fasting some thought: “Jesus already loves me”, “He’s deemed no food unclean”, and “why would I starve myself when I already have a great relationship with Christ?”
Boy, I hope so because if I’m the only one who didn’t “get it” I’ll need to do some serious internal checking. 😅
Fast forward to three weeks ago – I decided to revisit the concept. I came across this article by Dr. Axe about the Daniel Fast and as I read, it clicked. The gears in my mind turned differently this time and it made sense now. This fast would redirect my focus completely. As the bible plan put it, it was about removing myself from the throne of my life and choosing to place God on it. Humbling myself, giving up my everyday way of life, leaning on Him and giving Him my full attention in order to grow closer to Him..that’s what it was about.
Denying myself those beloved breads, full-fat butter and sweeteners was never about His love for me, but about my heart for Him. It was not without apprehension but I decided now was the time, because I finally understood.
In the days of king Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon destroyed Judah, taking it’s people captive and deporting them to Babylon. Daniel was one of these captives. He showed incredible faith and integrity during his captivity. The King of Babylon changed his name and had him trained for three years in the way of the Chaldeans (or Babylonians) so he could serve under the king in his palace. Daniel was taken from his home in Judah to to be forced to assimilate to this new culture entirely. New language, different food, worship of idols…but in the middle of his captivity and far from comfort, Daniel “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies..” Daniel 1:8.
Later on Daniel asks the king’s steward to only give him vegetables to eat and water to drink (Daniel 1:12). This is where we get the premise of the Daniel Fast.
Whether he denied the delicacies and luxuries of the king because the meat was forbidden by jewish law or because accepting the king’s food and drink was the first step toward depending on his gifts and favors, we can see parallels in Daniels diet and his namesake fast. He chose not to conform in the flesh lest he compromise his spirit. We, too, fast to center ourselves on God, instead of trusting in worldly comforts.
Fasting solely for physical health is one thing but as I mentioned above, The Daniel Fast is more of a spiritual stretch as I understand it. You’re not really doing it to recharge and restart your physical well-being, you’re laying down control and asking God to help you through, grow you, guide you and be in charge..of even the small things. For three weeks.
It was hard.
And while for years I misunderstood it as legalism (rules and regulations without regard to the condition of spirit and/or heart) it actually proved to be all about spirit and heart! Self-discipline, humility, a grateful heart, self control, self denial, and a dependence on God instead of my worldly instant gratification are all outcomes I experienced…and I found that it was a very heart-centered journey.
It absolutely takes heart and builds spirit to put away the love of things in our little temporary worldly kingdoms for a love of the the Kingdom unseen.
For anyone who has contemplated biblical or spiritual fasting, check out the Daniel Fast Bible Plan on the YouVersion app and Dr. Axe’s article https://draxe.com/nutrition/daniel-fast/ for the diet and health part of it as well as suggestions to stay in prayer and time in scripture. Those were good starting points for a fasting-skeptic like me.