21 May Daniel Fast
No doubt at some point you have heard about or tried the Daniel Fast (or Daniel diet) based on Scriptures in the book of Daniel. It is an eating plan that typically eliminates meat, sweets, processed foods, alcoholic beverages, etc. So what exactly was the biblical origin of the Daniel Fast?
The first thing to note is that there were actually two instances of Daniel abstaining from certain foods in Scripture. The first can be found in Chapter 1 of the book of Daniel (Daniel 1:6-16). In this story, we are introduced to Daniel and three other young men – Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego). They were all hand-picked to be trained to serve in the king’s palace because of their intelligence, quick aptitude and good looks. While in training they had access to the finest things, including the same lavish foods and wine the king consumed. Scripture says that Daniel chose not to defile himself with the king’s food, but instead, he and the others had only vegetables and water for 10 days. At the end of the 10 days, they were found to be healthier and better nourished than all the rest that ate the royal food and were allowed to continue their diet.
In the second situation (Daniel 10:1-3), Daniel received a revelation concerning a significant war. In response, he mourned for three weeks and did not drink wine and did not eat meat nor seasoned, choice foods. After those three weeks, Daniel experienced a direct, spiritual encounter and received divine strength.
In both cases, Daniel abstained from food, but for different reasons. The first was a way for him to declare and demonstrate the power and care of the God he served. He may have been put in position to serve the king, but he was making it clear that he only served the one true King. In that situation he chose a restrictive diet relative to the king’s feast but He demonstrated physically and mentally that serving his God was better than serving any man. In the second instance, his decision to have a restrictive diet was driven by a need to gain wisdom and understanding. His heart was heavy with the vision that he received and he needed to get himself together physically and mentally to receive divine revelation. Note that neither of these diets were for the purpose of losing physical weight, but rather to gain spiritual health, strength and guidance.
Today, we may choose to do the Daniel fast for different reasons, but when doing so we should go back to the Scriptures and study the original intent. We need to determine why we are doing it.
During this series on eating, we have reflected on the whole spectrum from fasting to gluttony. What restrictions, if any, have you imposed on your eating choices? Do you overeat and if so, why and what can you do to practice eating in moderation? Do you fast during Lent or during other times of the year and if so, what is your motivation for doing so? Take some time today to reflect on your eating habits and make a commitment to make changes as necessary so that you may truly eat and drink to the glory of God.