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How Long is the Daniel Fast?

There is no prescribed time in the Daniel Fast. Rather, the Daniel Fast is about limiting the types of food intake to vegetables and water. The word vegetable in the Scripture actually means fruits and vegetables as these were all allowed under the Jewish dietary laws.

Daniel asked the Chief of the eunuchs to allow his three friends and him to eat just vegetables and water for 10 days and then check in to see their condition. But that didn’t end the dietary restrictions to this 10-day period. It appears that instead, this was a lifestyle for Daniel and the others. If the only meat available to them was that which had been offered as sacrifices to idols, they did not eat it.

There was another time in Daniel 10 where he was seeking wisdom from the Lord and he consecrated himself in a fast of vegetables and water for 21 days. This is perhaps why so many link the Daniel Fast with a 21-day fasting period. “In those days, I Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I at no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.”  Daniel 10:2, 3

There are a couple things we see from this portion of Scripture. One is that it seems that Daniel had resumed eating meat. The meat that he rejected in Chapter 1 was that which had been offered to idols and false gods. For him to consume that meat would defile his body, which he had consecrated (set apart) to the Lord.

Secondly, we see that in this fast, Daniel ate no delicacies. With what is known of diets during that time, this probably referred to breads (especially yeast breads), sweets, and other rich foods.

So when you plan a Daniel Fast, you need to also decide how long you want your fast to be. Most Christians who will enter the 2008 Fast in January chose a 21-day fast. That’s because this is more of a corporate fast with Christians throughout North America  joining together in a common effort to fast and pray.

Not everyone is starting on the same day, however most start on the first few days of January. If you are joining in a corporate fast with your church or a group of believers, then your start date might be determined. Otherwise, this is a prayerful decision you can make.

The same it true with the length of your fast. Remember that this is a spiritual fast, with the Daniel Diet serving as the definition for the foods that you will eat. So planning your fast should be serious and with a purpose.  Spiritual fasting is for spiritual results. So consider your goals.

The common lengths of time for fasting are 1-, 3-, 7-, 10-, 21-, and 40-day fasts. Obviously, there is no set rule for any number of days. If you are new to fasting, you might want to start with 3 or 7 days. If you are more experienced, a 21 day fast is probably the one to match a fast for entering the New Year. The 40-day fasts are generally undertaken only a few times (if ever) in ones lifetime.

Keep in mind that there are many kinds of fasts — and there are numerous types of spiritual fasting. They vary in length and in the types and amounts of food intake. This site focuses on the Daniel Fast as it grows in popularity among the Christian community.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’ve been on the Daniel’s fast once before for three weeks a few months ago, and this year, I started yesterday and I’m going on it 3 – 5+ months. Have you or anyone ever that you know of, tried to do this longer than 40 days? Thanks!

    January 5, 2013
    • I’ve done the Daniel Fast for as long as 50 days . . . which is on the outside of when a spiritual fast can be meaningful. Eating according to the guidelines is safe and you can get all the nutrients your body needs, so you are okay there. But fasting was designed by God to be a temporary period so we could have an intense time of focused prayer and devotion. It was never met to be extended for multiple months.

      I don’t know your circumstances, so there might be some life issues that you sense need this kind of focus . . . so I’m not totally discouraging it.

      Be blessed!!

      January 5, 2013
      • Thank you for the advice! I’m going into the ministry (working towards becoming a certified minister) this year, as well as some health issues that need to be dealt with, so that’s basically the reason for the extended period of time. I really feel like this year is a big year for me, and I need all the focus I can get.(:

        January 5, 2013
      • Be blessed as you continue to grow in the love and knowledge of Jesus . . . and move into fulltime service.

        January 6, 2013
  2. sharonda #

    This is my first time fasting and today is day one. i have chose ur site to read upon while fasting. I am new to this but I have chosen to stick with the daniel fast. I chose to read this because I wanted to know how long I should fast being its my first time and I dont plan to allow my flesh stop me from fastening. I have chose to fast for 10. But thanks for ur page of support.

    December 1, 2012
  3. Keely #

    For health concerns, I need to know if this makes you lose any weight?

    October 11, 2012
    • Daniel Fast Team #

      Hi Keely,
      It is normal for people to lose a few pounds while on the fast (5-15) but not do to a lack of food, as we advise 3 moderate meals with 2 small snacks per day. Weight loss on the fast is directly connected to the removal of sugars, chemical additives, etc. basically “simple carbohydrates”: All of which are NOT allowed on the fast. (Simple carbohydrates are more refined, are usually found in foods with fewer nutrients, and tend to be less satisfying and more fattening): Table sugar, Corn syrup, Fruit juice, Candy, Cake, Breads made with white flour, Pasta made with white flour, Soda pop, such as Coke®, Pepsi®, Mountain Dew®, etc., Candy, All baked goods made with white flour, and Most packaged cereals. However, you do not have to lose weight on the fast if you do not want to. Maintaining healthy body weight is a combination of Caloric intake (eating three moderate meals with two snacks per day) and Exercise. You will want to pay specific attention to your protein intake, and you can get plenty of protein in Nuts and Peanut butter, Whole grains, Legumes (beans) and Leafy Green Vegetables. And, remember to Drink Lots of Water! As a general guideline, your body needs half its body weight in ounces of water per day, i.e.: 160lbs = 80 oz. of water daily. Be Blessed!

      October 11, 2012
  4. Annettea Johnson #

    thanks for information .

    March 21, 2011
  5. leonard mandago #

    Thank you for those who gave comments on fasting,i was not aware how many days to fast,but now am familiar with this topic, be blessed servant of God.
    wish to continue giving such inspiration.

    August 20, 2009
  6. mel #

    I am still nursing my seven month old baby, do you have any recomendations?

    January 4, 2009
  7. Hi Kim,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. God is so good and I am so happy that this fast has helped you move into a healthier lifestyle.

    Be blessed, dear one.

    November 23, 2008
  8. Kim #

    I just finished my first Daniel fast as part of intercession for a friend. I fasted for 70 days (70 years of captivity) with some modifications for health reasons after consulting with my physician (lean protein – turkey, chicken, eggs, whey powder). It was a life-changing experience and I find that it has now become a lifestyle. I get sick when I try eating processed and sugary foods, or cows’ milk products like cheese and ice cream. I used to call eating like this being Euell Gibbons and consuming tree bark, but my flesh has been placed under subjection. Thank you for everything!

    November 23, 2008

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