6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’"
- Isaiah 58:6-9
"Fasting." Not a very popular word. Putting it into action - ha! There are many ways we fast; just look on social media at the promises made when Lent comes around - Diet Coke, sweet tea, social media, Netflix, and on and on the sacrifices continue. But fasting food is different. As humans, we do not like rules or restrictions and do not touch our food. Even giving up a single item that is prevalent in one's diet is pokes at us. This agitation acts as a repellent against people disuading them from even learning about the act. Bring it up and watch how quickly the questions and eyebrows are raised. People just do not understand. To be honest, I did not understand...until I tried it.
The Daniel's Fast is one I have taken part in for the past two years. This fast speaks to me on so many levels. It is derived from the passages in the book of Daniel (chapters 1 and 10) from the Bible. In wanting to stay sharp and focused on God, Daniel and his buddies asked for simple vegetables when the king was serving everyone the finest of foods and beverages to their peers. Today, this translates into refraining from meat, sugar, dairy, and the toughest of all any processed food. Processed means anything that is prepackaged - breads, pre-baked goods, chips, canned soup, pre-made broths, granola bars, and just about anything else one would find in the center aisles of the grocery store. More than the food, though, this fast is to lean into God. Hearing Him over all the noise and busyness of my day is something I crave. I want to hear and be heard. My heart's desires - are they in line with Yours, Father? Let me know!
Yesterday began my third time going into this fast. In the past, I have selected the ten-day option. This time, I am all in for twenty-one days. I want the longer time to not just let this be a temporary act of obedience but to build the habit of it. Two things are pressed on my heart in this challenge ahead...
1) Ridding my life of chaos. Overpacked schedules, financial peace, organization in my house and the company - it is all a bit chaotic right now. Enough is enough; I refuse to live this life the enemy tries to force on us as the "norm." I am turning away from society's norms and throwing myself into God's arms so I can live a life that does not make sense without Him.
2) "The List." About three-quarters of a page long, there is a list of people I hold so close to my heart. They live day-in and day-out without the warmth and love of God's Spirit. These are people I have prayed over for years. This fast is for them.
Through the strength of the Provider, I am waging war on this lifestyle. It is not for me to win the battle, I can't win it on my own! The beauty is, all I have to do is show up. Show up every time I am called by Him. Follow God out onto the battle field as He goes before me and watch as He brings victory.
I invite you to join me in this effort. If it is your first time, try out the ten-day plan. Be prepared for the comments and questions that people will hit you with. Acquaintances will have their remarks, but the ones who surprise me most are the coworkers and loved ones I come in contact with every day. The very first time I entered into the Daniel's Fast, it was on the backend of having lost quite a bit of weight after years of exercise and changing my eating habits. Well, there are always the few Debbie-downers and before I knew it, rumors were circulating about my eating disorder that I liked to call "fasting." People just do not understand. Frustration really got to me during this first time - meal prep, hanger, being misunderstood, all of it was such a hassle. Working in events with so much delicious dishes being passed around did not make this easy. There were instances I would get so frustrated at trying to pack meals for days of events and it would all be so overwhelming that I just would not eat. I didn't want to step outside of the fasting guidelines but I wasn't always sure what to eat or how to best get the nutrition I needed. Granted, this is not the way to go about a fast. A fast is meant to restore the body, build it up, not drain it of energy-giving nutrients and wearing it out through the daily grind. A fast intends to leave an emptiness in us so God can be the one to fill it up. It is not doing it for show, but to gain humility before our Father. It is total reliance on Him. It is shifting the attention away from you (and myself) and putting it on our Provider and the people and places He wants our attention.
The second time I entered into the Daniel's Fast with God, I was a bit more prepared. This is key to being more likely to stick to a fast. It does take meal prep, prayer, and partnership. Fortunately, this time around I have a prayer warrior of a friend doing the fast with me. We have meal planned and prepped, we have set boundaries, we have written out goals, and what I love most, is that we met the day before we began the fast to pray over all that is on our hearts during it. We are excitedly waiting in expectation of whatever God may do during this time. We have no doubt He is going to speak and we want to be sharp and focused, just like Daniel.
If you feel you need to heal in heart, mind, soul, or body, please consider walking with God through the Daniel's Fast. Here is a link that I pray will help start your healing and digging deeper with God Who is madly in love with you.