Preparing for the Daniel Fast is important. Of course, you will want to get all the menus planned, the recipes gathered, and the food purchased. There is more about those matters in other posts you can find in this weblog (see the category list).
But on this post I want to focus on preparing spiritually for the Daniel Fast. God’s Word actually has some very important teachings about fasting and how to make it one that is pleasing to the Lord.
Fasting is FOR the Lord! Isaiah 58 is one of the chapters in the Bible you will want to read as you plan your fast. Here the Lord addresses the very important issue of priorities in fasting. He responds to the religious people who fast and then ask of the Lord, “Why have we fasted and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and you take no notice?”
The Lord admonishes the people because He could see the motive of their fast. They were not fasting for Him . . . but instead for themselves or to impress others who might see them. The people may have been fasting by not eating food – but they were leaving God and His desires for their lives out of it. He said, “Behold, on the day you fast, you seek your own pleasures.” In other words, they were centering the fast on themselves! Theirs was a self-centered fast, rather than a God-centered fast.
So He asks the people, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it to not share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from hour own flesh?” Isaiah 58:6, 7
Now was God saying that we are not to fast, but rather address our attention to the poor and oppressed? No. Instead He was admonishing these people because while they were focusing all their attention on the religious act of fasting, they were missing the heart of God. Their lives were not pleasing to Him and so there was no way He could “notice” their fast.
The Lord goes on to tell the people what He will do for them if they align their hearts to His heart, “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
As you prayerfully consider your fast, think about what will be pleasing to the Lord. Keep at the forefront of your thoughts that fasting is “unto the Lord.” He sees your heart (your motives) and He wants you to enter into this fast to seek Him, to honor Him, and to draw closer to Him.
Jesus also spoke of self-centered fasting in Matthew 6:16-18: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Soon you will begin your fast. Take some time and meet with the Lord. Ask Him about the fast. Firstly, does He want you to fast now? Listen with your heart and you will hear what He would have you do.
If you are to fast at this time, then ask the Lord to show you His purpose for you during the fast. Are there issues that trouble you? Does the Lord want you to trust Him more? Is their a cause for which He is calling you to pray?
Get ready for the fast by seeking the Lord. Make this fast unto the Lord. Then He will reward you and you will discover the power and purpose of spiritual fasting!