The 21-day Daniel Fast is about to begin. My wife and I are stocked up on nuts, quinoa, and unsweetened cocoa powder (if you’ve done the fast, you know about the no bake cookies), and I’ve already been scouring the internet for possible recipes. My mind is extremely focused on the food, and especially the caffeine, I’m about to give up. For 21 days, we put down cheeseburgers, cake, tobacco, coffee, etc. and it can be very tempting to fixate on those things. My encouragement/challenge to you during this time is this: fasting is not so much about your stomach, as it is your heart.
The Apostle Paul beats his body into submission (1 Corinthians 9:27) and commands us to offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Removing harmful things from our bodies is an important practice in following Christ, but it is not the purpose of fasting. If what you eat or don’t eat is the primary focus of the next 21 days, you won’t be fasting, nor will you receive all the blessings that accompany a fast – you’ll be dieting.
When I read scripture, I see a few major themes accompanying fasting:
Prayer (Acts 13:3 and 14:23, Psalm 35:13, Ezra 8:23, Nehemiah 1:4, Daniel 9:3)
Humility and Repentance (Psalm 69:10, Ezra 8:21, Isaiah 58:3, 1 Samuel 7:6, Jonah 3:5-10)
Mourning (Joel 2:12, Nehemiah 1:4, 2 Samuel 1:12, Ezra 10:6, Esther 4:3)
These themes throughout scripture paint a clear picture of fasting; it’s a heart thing, not a stomach thing. These 21 days should be an intense time of coming before the Lord in prayer, humbling ourselves and asking Him to reveal sin in our lives so that we might turn to Him for sanctification, and mourning over the lostness of our Waldos and the world around us.
Fasting affords clarity so that we might pray, read scripture and press into the Lord’s presence more in 21 days than we maybe have the entire year prior.
I’m praying and believing in faith that our church will see more spiritual breakthrough, more healed marriages, more Waldos reconciled to Christ, and more life during this year’s fast than ever before. I believe however, that you will only see these things happen individually if you will focus more on Him than on the things you’re giving up – more on your heart than on your stomach.