As we have started our yearly sacrificial period this week I have been in deep prayer as a spirit of heaviness has weighed on me. My husband and I fast at least twice a year to center and focus us throughout the year. The Sanctuary fasts at least twice a year as well, and I’ve noticed that January has now become a popular month for prayer & fasting in the church, and cleansing & exercise routines in the world. Yes, it is a great thing that many are focused on fasting, but it has raised some concerns within my spirit and it these concerns were deepened after a conversation with my sister.
If you are on social media you may have noticed that the Daniel Fast has become popular in the non-secular world as well as the secular world. There are a plethora of blog posts and websites dedicated to surviving The Daniel Fast and this prompted my spirit into a deep mourning. I begin to think on Daniel and his experience during his sacrificial period. Daniel probably fasted a lot simpler than we are, he didn’t have all the food choices, products and methods of cooking and storing and preserving that we do. He probably ate just vegetables to sustain him while he prayed as he was in mourning. Yes, relatively speaking, this is much simpler for us. We’re used to not just coffee, but flavors of coffee and toppings and creamers. We’re used to fast food, junk food and sugar fixes. We are denying a lot of what’s popular in our culture. But Daniel lived in Babylon; he had access to good food as well. He could have eaten the king’s “dainties,” but when you read Daniel 1, 9 and 10 it was not what he ate on his fast but why he fasted.
The first time he fasted, he was a young man and he refused “the king’s dainties,” for health and spiritual reasons, knowing that vegetables were much better for him than the rich, defiled foods on the king’s table. In Chapter 9, he fasted from food and just drank water expecting for the prophecy of freedom for the Israelites to come to pass. Chapter 10, Daniel goes on a 21-day fast while he prayed for his nation to come out of captivity according to the vision God had given him. The Bible says he mourned. But it seems that now the Daniel Fast has become a festive game, to see who can survive or lose the most weight. Many have spent much time planning menus, shopping for the ingredients, cooking appropriate meals, and then blogging all about them. But have we put that same amount of time and energy into prayer and the Word? I’m sure we’ve taking time to pray and read, but has it been the focus of the day? Daniel sustained himself on vegetables—simple, plain vegetables—so he would have more time to pray. He didn’t think about food. When he got hungry, he ate something that took very little thought or preparation and then got back to praying. When we are in a period of mourning, we aren’t very hungry and we certainly don’t feel like partying. Food takes a back seat to the issue at hand. It seems that food has become the main focus of the fast for some. Today make sure your attention is on those issues you we’re fasting for in the first place…to get a little more serious…to dig a little deeper. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting…” In other words, life isn’t a party. It needs to be lived with seriousness, and a sense of reverence of the eternal.
I encourage you to incorporate the enlightment of the healthier options into your lifestyle. The Daniel Fast has surely increased my awareness. I encourage you to enjoy the flavors of the nutritious salad, but do so with thankfulness to the Lord for blessing you with access to plenty of safe, clean and nutritious food. But most importantly, I encourage you to focus on Him. Think about why you are on this fast in the first place, is it to gain revelation, wisdom and knowledge? Today’s re-alignment will shrink our flesh making this true fast worth it in the end – as our Spirits will grow to full maturity.
Contributed by Pastor Yolanda Douthit