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Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Daniel Fast for Spiritual Breakthrough

My wife and I decided to submit to a Daniel Fast from February 1st through February 21st. A Daniel Fast is abstaining from certain "party" foods. Things like meat, sweets, caffeine, etc. It was a blessing for us. The purpose of the Fast is to draw closer to God and to have a prayer project. We decided we would have three prayer projects for each day of the week. We divided the daily projects into Church, Sunday School, and Personal. We purposed to pray together each day for the three requests on our pray list for that day. Overall we had twenty-one prayer projects. It was a sweet time of growing in our relationship with our Father. A side benefit was better health and a weight loss. We have determined to continue to eat healthy and to lose weight. One book that was helpful in this fast was Elemer Towns' The Daniel Fast for a Spiritual Breakthrough. Dr. Towns, cofounder of Liberty University, has lots of practical information in his book as well as recipes in the back. He has a devotional for each of the twenty-one days. He also encourages you to start and end the fast on the dates you decide at the beginning of the fast. We also used Susan Gregory's website and information. We actually held to Susan's suggestions for the foods to abstain. You can find her website here, Daniel Fast. The next time we submit to the fast we will buy Susan's book and Kristen Feola's book. You can sign up for a daily devotional on Susan's website. I had no idea how many people have been through the Daniel Fast. I first learned of the Daniel Fast through my niece's church. To read of Daniel's fast look at Daniel 1:8-12 (ten-day fast) and Daniel 10:3 (twenty-one day fast). I trust you will enjoy the quotes from Elmer Towns' book:

So Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies (see Daniel 1:8). Was this a choice for good health, or to keep his body separated to God? It was both! Daniel wanted God's will for his body. And isn't that what you want for your body, too, during your Daniel Fast?

The Daniel Fast is not primarily a dietary choice; it is a spiritual vow to God. you may lose weight during your fast, or you may lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, and while these results are good, they are not the primary focus of the fast. Indeed, you are fasting for a spiritual focus. Improved health is always a secondary result of doing the Daniel Fast. Look at what happens when you begin a Daniel Fast. First, you reevaluate your life in light of God's perspective. Second, you break some bad eating habits, which will begin to restore you to better health. pp. 21-22

. . . many people who participate in a Daniel Fast testify that they are closer to God when they fast than any other time in their life. Why? Because they are obeying God every minute of the day. When you're fasting, you're aware of your stomach all the time, which makes you aware of the reason you are abstaining from food-intimacy with God-as you fast.

A final reason to choose to fast is that it leads to worshiping God. When you fast and pray, you honor the Lord with your body and soul. p. 22

. . . two questions you should be asking yourself are the same: (1) Why am I fasting? and (2) What do I want to accomplish with this fast? Technically, you should be fasting for focus and commitment to a project or for an answer to prayer. p. 23

The Daniel Fast is a time vow, so you need to decide ahead of time how long you will fast and then be firm to that commitment to the end. p. 23

. . . begin on time, keep the promise to fast the entire time, and end on time.

The Daniel Fast is also a discipline vow. You strengthen your character in every area of your life when you fulfill your Daniel Fast. When you take control of your body-your outer self-you begin to take control of your inner character. You discipline your body to glorify the Lord. pp. 23-24

As you discipline your body, you are disciplining your prayer life. p. 24

The Daniel Fast is a partial vow. You don't give up all food (an absolute fast), nor do you go on just a juice fast (a normal fast). Instead, you omit certain foods that you would typically eat or eliminate certain meals for a specified period of time. This may include omitting one or two meals a day for a certain length of time, or it may involve omitting other practices.

The Daniel Fast is a healthy vow. You abstain from "party" food, or junk food. Usually, you don't eat between meals, and you only eat healthy foods.

Finally the Daniel Fast is a lifestyle vow. When Daniel asked permission to avoid the king's delicacies for 10 days, he put his whole life into his chosen diet. Then, if he continued to look "healthy," he could continue following his own diet. p. 24

Take note that nowhere in the Bible are believers commanded to observe a Daniel Fast. We have been given freedom to eat; and we eat healthy to stay healthy. p. 25

As you enter the Daniel Fast, it is easy to focus on the food you give up or the activities you surrender. It's easy to focus on your abstinence and not on the basic purpose for which you are fasting. But remember that God is not impressed just because you stop eating altogether or you stop eating certain foods, even if you do it for your health. God is not impressed with the outward actions of your fast. The secret of any fast is not what you keep from entering the stomach but what comes out of the heart. God is primarily concerned with your inner person, not your outer body. p. 33

The basic principles of discipleship were not denial or self discipline, but following Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "If any one desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). This involves turning to the Lord and putting Him first in your life, and then turning away from anything that keeps you from following Him.

There are three words in this verse that should influence your Daniel Fast. First, the word "deny" means that you should get rid of anything that hinders your relationship with Christ. You must get off the throne of your heart, and Jesus must sit there and control what you eat and drink. The second word is "daily." Following Jesus means 24-7 dedication, so your Daniel Fast requires a 10-day or 21-day vow accompanied with continuous prayer. The third word is "follow." Just as Jesus fasted in preparation for His spiritual work, so must you follow Jesus' example with a Daniel Fast for your spiritual vow. pp. 34-35

Humility is an interesting word. Webster says it means, "to reduce oneself to the lowest position in one's own eyes, and, or the eyes of another." It comes from the word humus, which means "from the earth." Humus is that rich organic soil that is formed from the partial decomposition of plant or animal matter. Look deeply: the rich soil that produces new life comes from death of other matter. So when you "crucify" yourself-or you die-you produce an experience that gives new life from God.

Doesn't our life represent a seed that can be planted by God to give life to others? Remember, Jesus said, "Except a seed is planted in the ground and dies, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit" (John 12:24 ELT). So when we crucify ourselves, others prosper and live.

So our life must be open to the renewing rain and the richness of the soil and the energy of the sun to produce new life in us and others. But that new life is brought forth with humus, or the death of self.

Trying to become humble is like trying to go to sleep. The harder you try, the more difficult it becomes. But when we surrender to sleep, like surrendering to the Lord, what we seek will happen. You can't deliberately pray for humility, nor can you work it up, it's a gift from God. p. 132

What did Paul mean, "Aspire to lead a quiet life" (1 Thess. 4:11)? What did God mean, "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength" (Isa. 30:15)? There is power in silence before God. It's not the absence of words that gives us strength; it's God's presence that empowers us. David wrote, "Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation" (Ps. 62:1). This probably didn't mean original salvation from sin, but our daily salvation from the domination of sin.

We don't learn as much when we're talking as when we're listening. So we need to kneel quietly in God's presence to learn some of the better lessons in life. p. 148

Make sure the fast goal is God's project and not your personal project, p. 157

The emphasis is not on your begging God to come help you win the battle. No, that's the wrong emphasis. It's not even getting God on your side; it's you getting on God's side. p. 157

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