What is the Daniel Fast?
In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. Daniel 10:2, 3
The Daniel Fast is a form of partial fasting. It is based on the Prophet Daniel when he was under the rule of Babylonian kings for their personal service. Daniel recorded three occasions of fasting, though he likely fasted many more times since he was a man of God.
In Daniel 1 we read about the time when offered the “king’s diet,” Daniel restricted his food intake to vegetables and water, rather than eat or drink anything that had been offered to Babylonian gods.
In Daniel 9 is the account of Daniel fasting and praying. This was probably a “normal fast” where he denied all food and drank only water.
In Daniel 10 is where we find Daniel using a partial form of fasting for 21 days. It is this account that today’s very popular Daniel Fast is modeled.
In the purest sense, The Daniel Fast is always a spiritual fast, even though many turn to the dietary restrictions laid out in the fast for health reasons. Those using the food lists from the Daniel Fast don’t partake of the spiritual benefits of this specific fast. I guess in this sense that could be called the Daniel Diet rather than the Daniel Fast.
The reason the “pure” Daniel Fast is always first spiritual is because Daniel chose the fast for spiritual purposes. He did not want to defile his body, which he had consecrated (set aside) for the Lord. And, while Scripture doesn’t state it, it’s likely that the superior health and wisdom Daniel gained from this fast was through God’s intervention.
If you are considering the Daniel Fast as your form of spiritual fasting, then there are several steps that you will want to complete:
1. Pray. Spiritual fasting is first directed toward God! So take time to pray to our Lord and ask Him if He wants you to fast at this time. This is really important. You don’t want to enter a fast only for your own purposes (self-centered) or only because your church (human-being-centered) has decided to fast. You want all your fasting to be God-centered. See Isaiah 58.
2. Prepare. Once you sense the leading from the Lord that this is a right time to fast, then begin to prepare you heart. Continue to seek God’s direction. What will be the focus of your fast? Will you use this fast to increase our trust in the Lord? Will you fast corporately with your church body and adopt that focus? Is there a specific trial and you need a breakthrough? Decide your purpose and then begin preparing your heart.
You will also want to prepare for the dietary part of the Daniel Fast. Review these posts:
3. Sanctify Yourself: To “sanctify” is to set apart. Daniel sanctified himself unto the Lord and therefore did not eat the rich foods or those offered to the Babylonian gods. As you enter into the Daniel Fast, you also can sanctify yourself and your fast unto the Lord. Make a commitment and set yourself apart for your fast period to diligently seek the Lord and experience His presence as never before.
4. Sanctify the Time. Keep in mind at all times in your fast that this is “unto the Lord.” Set aside time every day to pray, study God’s Word, and to be quiet before our Lord. He wants to meet with you! He wants to demonstrate His deep and abiding love for you. If this is new to you, be patient with yourself and keep at it! Sanctify a time every day to meet with the Lord.
5. Journal Writing. Keeping track of your food intake and writing about your experience will add a richness and depth to your fast that is hard to get any other way, especially if you don’t fast frequently. That’s why I created The Daniel Personal Journal. Each day you can log the types of food you ate at each meal, keep track of your water consumption and not your weight (although this is not the primary reason for the fast).
You can also record your personal insights each day as you walk through the fast. What are you experiencing? What is the Lord teaching you? You will be surprised as the way the Lord will minister to you during this precious time of fasting.
6. Stay Present with the Lord: Use this Daniel Fast as a time to increase your focus on the Lord. Obviously, you won’t be able to pray every minute. But take time to ask the Lord to keep you in the right place at the right time. Keep your heart “stayed on Him.” Keep Him present with you as you interact with family members, friends, work associates, and other believers. Pray more often about even simple tasks and encounters. Increase your awareness in the Lord and that He is ever present with you.
7. Press On: There will be times on the Fast that your body and soul will kick and scream and your spirit needs to take charge! There will be times when you will need to alter your plans or make special provision so that you can remain in the Fast. This is all very normal and all part of the fasting experience. So what do you do? Press on! Succeeding in the fast by pressing on in the hard times will strengthen your character and your spiritual muscle.
8. Completion: In not too many days you will complete the Daniel Fast. You will want to reflect on your experience and notice your spiritual growth. What did you see of God while you fasted? What did He see of you? What did you learn? Are there things that came up that you know you need to address even now? Make sure to take time to reflect and take hold of the lessons learned and the blessings gained. The Bible says, “God rewards those who diligently seek Him.” Hopefully, you have had a successful and spiritually maturing fast and know of His rewards.