Christian Life Center recently invited the entire congregation to participate in what many call a “Daniel Fast.” It’s a three-week period of intentionally limiting what you eat. It is a kind of “fast” named after Daniel, a hero in the Bible who practiced a primarily vegetarian diet.
While I missed chicken, beef, bread and the (occasional) serving of bacon, I confess I missed coffee the most. Overall, it was a healthy three-week way to begin the new year. I lost the final pounds I “found” in early 2018 that I began to shed in a diet and exercise program back in September.
The primary goal of the “Daniel fast” isn’t better physical health, although that is surely a legitimate benefit of learning to eat simply and stick to it. The primary goal of any fasting (for Christians) is a spiritual one. For me, when I fast, I hope to gain some new insight or a greater spiritual sensitivity to the God I know, serve and love.
As this Daniel fast drew to a close, I took some reflective moments and asked myself and (prayerfully) asked God, “So what benefit has come through this fast?” To be honest, I felt somewhat ineffective in it. I hadn’t spent near the prayer time I intended to, my schedule was so full (several 12-plus hour days) that I didn’t take the “quiet time” I intended to either.
I had an apologetic, disappointed attitude in my prayerful question, “So what benefit has come from this..?” Then I sat, quietly reflecting, and waited.
As I prayerfully mused about my question, I realized something. Although not nearly as challenging as a total food fast (drinking only water), The Daniel fast is still a three-week challenge and alteration of my normal eating habits. However, this was (dare I say) the “easiest” fast I remember.
Normally, the Daniel fast finds me with caffeine-withdrawal headaches, low afternoon energy (due to being coffee-free), and craving all kinds of foods on the “avoid” list. This time, none of that happened! I didn’t have a single headache, my energy was high all day, almost every day…even on the 12-14 hour days. While I missed certain foods, it was very manageable.
At the same time, I had one of the most intense “start of the year” January’s in recent memory. While off over the Christmas/New Year holiday, I enjoyed the relaxation, and somewhat dreaded my first few weeks back at work. Non-work stressors added to my dread of January.
In my reflection time, I realized God gave me strength…physically, as well as internally (spiritually). The Daniel fast ended yesterday, and one of the most intense January’s for me is over today. I thank God for a quiet, subtle strength. It’s funny how so much of God’s work and provision can go unnoticed unless we take the time to notice it.
So….take some time. Take some quiet time. Maybe grab a cup of coffee (or tea, or water, or whatever…) and listen to God’s whispers in your soul when you ask Him, “God, where have you been in my life lately? What have you done, and is there any evidence of your good and longing for growth in me?”
You may just be pleasantly and subtly surprised. I was.