Last year I went on the Daniel Fast for the month of January to support a friend who really wanted to do it. This year, I’m doing it (and I hope she still wants to support me). Here is some of the information I’ve found through my research. There are books out there about this too if you’re thinking about joining us. The Daniel Fast is typically three weeks, but we do it for the entire month of January. It’s just a very good way to start a new year.
What is Fasting?
- To abstain from all food, technology, music, TV, etc.
- To eat only sparingly or of certain types of foods as a religious observance
Please remember that I am not the final authority (or any authority) on the Daniel Fast. This is merely an introduction to the fast. I strongly encourage you to do your own research before beginning any type of fast. Also note that this is not the only way Scripture encourages us to fast. This is merely our modern interpretation of how Daniel fasted. And always check with your doctor before beginning any new diet if you have specific concerns.
Thank you for taking the time to read this information and prayerfully consider joining a few of us on the Daniel Fast. This is not an attempt to go on a crash diet, but the opportunity to grow closer to Christ. The purpose of this fast is to dedicate our minds solely on God’s Word and prayer for three weeks. Each hunger pang is a physical reminder to spend time with God in prayer and the study of Scripture. The next couple pages contain information about the fast: how it originated and what foods are allowed on it.
In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all for the three full weeks.
The Daniel Fast originates from Daniel 10:2-3. At this point in Daniel’s life, Israel was under the control of Cyrus. Initially, the Jews had been allowed to return to their homeland and to rebuild the temple. This continued until the third year of Cyrus’ reign. When Cyrus was call away to war, his son Cambyses took control and forbade the Israelites from rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple. The Jews were overwhelmed with the feeling of defeat. What good was their newfound freedom if they couldn’t rebuild their city and their temple?
Instead of realizing the corruption of the new government, they looked to blame God. Prophets, such as Isaiah and Haggai, had spoken of God’s promise for a second temple. They began to assume that God had abandoned them and ultimately made them into an embarrassment. Thus the people’s hearts grew hard and hostile against God. This isn’t a new concept for the Jewish people. It’s an echo of Exodus. As soon as the people are delivered from captivity and promised a new home, they reject the One who has blessed them when circumstances go beyond their control.
Daniel’s heart was breaking for the people of Israel. He knew God would bless them in their freedom just as God had blessed Daniel while he was still in captivity. So he decided to fast. He would eat “no pleasant bread” (or delicacies) and no “flesh and [no] wine.” This is different from the passage in Daniel when he was first brought into captivity. Then, he had asked to be given only fruit and vegetables instead the king’s meat for a period of ten days. That was more of a diet. To fast is to abstain from all or certain foods for religious purposes for a certain period of time. Daniel fasted for three weeks to mourn over the Jewish people hardening their hearts to the Lord and the ceasing of construction on the temple. Today, Christians typically fast for prayer and spiritual growth.
Some churches join together in doing the Daniel Fast to pray for a specific purpose. Today, I ask you to join for your own spiritual growth. We do not have a specific church-wide event for which we need to pray, but we can pray for our church leaders and the healthy and growth of the church. We all have circumstances in our lives that have gone beyond our control. Let us use this time of fasting to pray for God to stretch our faith and cultivate a stronger love and longing for Him.
Before you begin this fast, I feel I must warn you. Spiritual warfare is alive and thriving. Satan intends to fight you at every turn. The first couple days will be especially hard. You will be tempted to give up or use the hunger pangs as an excuse to have a bad attitude or complain. In addition, you will also be tempted to become proud in your own efforts. Remember the words of Christ in Matt. 6:16-18 – “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Fasting is strictly between you and the Lord. Let each hunger pang remind you why you are fasting in the first place – prayer and spiritual growth. I pray we will all grow closer to Christ and each other through this fast.
What to Eat, What to Avoid:
Please read the list in its entirety. The typical foods we eat every day involve a combination of things that should be included or excluded on the Daniel Fast. It may take a while to adjust to the new way of thinking without turning to this list every time you want to eat something. Helpful hint: foods should only be those grown from the ground and are of good quality and only water to drink.
Foods to include in your diet during the Daniel Fast
All fruits. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, or canned. Fruits include but are not limited to apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon
All vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Vegetables include but are not limited to artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger root, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, zucchini, veggie burgers are an option if you are not allergic to soy.
All whole grains, including but not limited to whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, barley, grits, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, plain rice cakes and popcorn.
All nuts and seeds, including but not limited to sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, sesame. Also nut butters including all-natural peanut butter.
All legumes. These can be canned or dried. Legumes include but are not limited to dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, white beans.
All quality oils including but not limited to olive, canola, grape seed, peanut, and sesame.
Beverages: spring water, distilled water or other pure waters.
Other: tofu, soy products, vinegar, seasonings, salt, herbs and spices.
Foods to avoid on the Daniel Fast
All meat and animal products including but not limited to beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish.
All dairy products including but not limited to milk, cheese, cream, butter, and eggs.
All sweeteners including but not limited to sugar, raw sugar, honey, syrups, molasses, and cane juice.
All leavened bread including Ezekiel Bread (it contains yeast and honey) and baked goods.
All refined and processed food products including but not limited to artificial flavorings, food additives, chemicals, white rice, white flour, and foods that contain artificial preservatives.
All deep fried foods including but not limited to potato chips, French fries, corn chips.
All solid fats including shortening, margarine, lard and foods high in fat.
Beverages including but not limited to coffee, tea, herbal teas, carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol.
Remember, READ THE LABELS! For example, if something contains sugar as an ingredient, it should be avoided.
Please note that this is just one person’s list. You may find in your own research that other people have more inclusions/exclusions. For example, I have found another person to exclude vinegar, because it goes through a fermentation process like wine does.
Information about the fast was taken from several different sources: