January 12, 2007
The Daniel Fast
I’m heading out the door to drive down to Houston, Texas to visit my best friend who is speaking at a church just north of town. She lives in Knoxville so if she’s anywhere in Texas I will be there. Of course, I realized too late that I hadn’t written a journal entry for this week. I breathed a quick prayer, “Dear Lord, I don’t want to let my cyber friends down again but I don’t have a spare minute to write this before I leave town and I don’t want to be writing while I’m with Angela. What can I do?”
I immediately thought of my friend, Sarah, whom I introduced you to last year. Of course, she always writes such a delightful blog and she will probably have something to share about toddlers. I logged onto her blog and discovered she had recently written about our church wide call to a “Daniel Fast.” Perfect!
Since we go to the same church we are all participating in this fast. (Although, as you read down below, just note that I am “the friend” who was reluctantly participating but who had a bad attitude about the fast at first. By the same token, I am also the one who came home from hearing a great pastor and shared the phrase, “Extreme obedience brings extreme blessing,” which has become our mantra around here.)
After I had my attitude adjustment the whole family jumped in with both feet. I must say that I’m not really hungry but all this food preparation is what is the hard part. And there is absolutely no where we can go out to eat. We are allowed to eat: fruits, veggies, legumes, brown rice, soy milk, nuts, oats, and honey. We are not allowed: caffeine! Diet Dr. Pepper! Beef, poultry, fish, all dairy, sugar or sugar substitutes, eggs, flour and all breads.
I gotta tell you, Sarah’s attitude is still better than mine. The reason I’m doing this is because I do sense God wants to do a new work in me and my life this year and I would love to start 2007 off with a divine breakthrough. I am also recently being challenged in the area of submitting to spiritual authority (not our own church; something else.) So this has been a really good opportunity for me to walk in obedience to my covering, trusting God to bless my desire to walk with a yielded heart.
So…here’s Sarah’s wonderful reflections on this fast.
“In Matthew 6, Jesus was talking to His followers and said this, “When you fast…” Not if you fast, but when you fast. He, in the same chapter, talks about “when you give” and “when you pray.” All three topics—fasting, giving, and praying—are spoken of as “givens.” It was a given, if someone was a follower of God, that he or she would do all three.
This was the beginning of the sermon our pastor preached this weekend, and although I had already known that the Daniel Fast was coming, and my husband had given me the breakdown of why we, as a church, were being called to do it, this was the very first sermon I have ever heard on the subject of fasting. It’s funny; I’ve read about the topic before, and I’ve known people who’ve done it, but I never even considered fasting, myself. (Three years straight of pregnancy or breastfeeding probably didn’t help!)
Our pastor continued, mentioning people who fasted: Moses, Esther, Daniel, David, John, Paul, Peter, and of course Jesus. And he spoke of how each person fasted and then received a spiritual breakthrough of some sort. And besides the fact that my husband is on staff and we are all encouraged to participate, I caught the vision this weekend and began to be genuinely excited about the fast. I have several things I’ve been praying through, with no seeming resolution that I’m hoping will be answered in some way through this fast. I also know that I like Diet Coke a little bit too much—addicted?—and this is a good way to make sure no food or substance takes too holy place in my life. (My aching head right now testifies to that very fact.)
So on Sunday we embarked on the Daniel Fast. Now there are two fasts mentioned in the book of Daniel—the first was a 10-day fast, which was to prove to the king that Daniel and his three Hebrew friends wouldn’t need the royal (junk) food to be healthy, and the second, which was a three-week fast. This fast was to bring spiritual breakthrough needed to get an angel of the Lord past the devil, to get a message to Daniel. Both fasts included water and vegetables. (Praise the Lord, because if I had to live on just water for three weeks, I’d die of grumpiness.)
I was excited Sunday night—I’m always up for something new, and I like challenges, and I honestly thought it wouldn’t be that hard. We eat pretty healthy around here, other than the aforementioned caffeine addiction, and I’m not a vegetable-hater.
Then came Monday. After eating my all-natural oatmeal with pecans and raisins, grape juice and banana, I thought, Hey, this isn’t bad! I can do this without ever complaining! But by 2 p.m., the headache settled in. And when I say settled in, I mean embedded itself in every grove of my brain and hasn’t let up since. What’s puzzling me is how my husband, who consumes more caffeine than I do, doesn’t have a headache at all. Must be the favor of God, or something. Either way, my splitting head is the perfect vehicle for Satan. He keeps telling me, “This is stupid! You don’t have to do this. What’s the harm of sneaking a little Diet Coke? You’re breastfeeding; your baby NEEDS a hamburger!” Followed by the Spirit, reminding me, “Extreme obedience brings extreme blessing. You can’t do this, but I can through you! Trust me.”
What didn’t help is that I have a friend who’s also doing the fast, but pretty reluctantly. At lunch yesterday I almost felt attacked for supporting it. After all, she reasoned, it never said that Daniel didn’t eat bread! (Well, no, but it also didn’t say that he didn’t eat dairy or coffee or chocolate, either, but our pastor said not to, and he’s my spiritual authority, so I’m following his lead.)
I’m great at starting new things. I have so many unfinished projects, from kitchen chairs with only one coat of paint to half-crocheted hats to scrapbook supplies that have been sitting unused for two years. I began homeschooling Caiden but have run out of steam and am questioning myself daily. My nightstand is filled with partially-read books (all non-fiction; a fiction book gets devoured!) What I’m not good at is finishing what I’ve started. I get bored and move on to something else. Or it gets challenging, and I quit. (Like motherhood! Can I quit? Probably not. Guess I’ll have to dig in and keep plugging away.) So by breakfast this morning (tasteless oatmeal again), I was wanting to quit. This isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Cooking without sugar or butter or sauces is not only not fun, it’s not easy. I’m already trying to figure out how we’re going to live on salad (no cheese, no fun dressings) for three more weeks.
But then I remember why I’m doing this—my pastor asked me to. My husband asked me to. And deep down, I hear the voice of God asking me to. It’s not supposed to be easy; I could give up cocaine or skydiving or a hundred other things I don’t actually do. This is designed to be extreme! Extreme obedience brings extreme blessing, even if I “only” realize what it means to feel true hunger. In this society, we’re not hungry for much. Everything is easily accessible, which makes our need for God a little distilled. So I’m going to participate fully, knowing that not only will my body thank me heartily for it, but my spirit will, too. Even if God doesn’t show me a clear answer to the five things I’m praying through, I know that my rebellious nature, which tends to balk at being told what to do, will be broken down some. And that is a good thing.
Remarkably, as I’ve been writing this, my headache has waned. My resolve to obey has strengthened, and my thankfulness for a pastor and a church who are passionate about following God has increased. If this is how I feel on Day 2, I can’t wait to see what happens on Day 21. Until then, I’m off to go drink some water.
* *I debated hard with myself about writing this; Matthew 6 clearly says not to showboat about fasting. If I were doing a personal, individual fast, I wouldn’t mention it. But this is being done by an entire church body, some of whom read this blog and have asked me about it. I am a member of the church, married to a pastor on staff, so it’s pretty obvious I’m participating. I hope that answering the whys and hows that have been asked doesn’t qualify as showboating. J”
To read more of Sarah’s delightful blog click here.
Posted by weblion at 08:32 PM