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Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Daniel Fast

Tomorrow our church is beginning a ten-day period of prayer and fasting. I'm excited about it! I have only fasted a couple times in my life. The first time was several years ago and it was only for one day. Last year when our church did a 21-day fast I participated but didn't make it the full 21 days. In each of those instances I opted to go without food for a period of time during the day.

There are different methods of fasting. One is to go on a total liquid diet, which is what our pastor is doing. You can also opt to skip a meal or two. Another choice is the Daniel Fast which is eating only vegetables and fruits and drinking only water. That's what I'm doing.

In a nutshell, Daniel 1:1-21 tells the story of how Daniel, a young Israelite, was taken captive by the Babylonians. King Nebuchadnezzar wanted him and the others to eat the best foods and drink the best wines from his own table so they would become strong and go into service for him.

"But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way." Daniel 1:8

Daniel wasn't being difficult. First, the food had not been prepared according to Hebrew laws. Second, tradition tells that the food served to the king had first been offered to the Babylonian gods as an offering. Daniel wanted no part of it. He knew the One True God and wasn't going to do anything that would displease Him, even to the point of eating tainted food.

"Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azaria. 'Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.' So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food." Daniel 1:11-16

Daniel's story shows us what it means to be obedient. In verse 17 it says, "To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of literature and learning." God blessed them for the sacrifice and obedience.

That is the purpose of this 10-day fast. Jesus himself fasted for 40 days in the desert and was obedient to God. (Luke 4:1-2) He also talked about fasting like this:

"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting." Matthew 6:16

Notice Jesus didn't say if you fast but when. Clearly it is something believers are supposed to do on a regular basis. When a person fasts, they aren't supposed to make it obvious. I'm sharing this with you because: 1) it's a church-wide fast so it's not a secret, and 2) to encourage you to join us. There is also a world-wide fast going on through awake21.org, which is a 21-day fast. People all around the world are joining together through prayer and fasting in the coming days. I believe we will see God move in amazing ways!!

More than anything, I want to go deeper in my relationship with the Lord. I'm believing God is going to do some amazing things in my heart and my life in the next ten days!! You can bet I'll be sharing the experience with you very soon!!

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This week's Prayer Shout Out countries are:
USA, United Kingdom, Japan, Latvia, Romania, Ukraine, Germany, Ireland, Italy, China, Russia, Canada


TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2012 UPDATE:
We've been on the Daniel fast two days now and things are going well! Dinner was a bit challenging last night, but we (meaning hubby) survived. Tonight will be better: meatless tacos! Whole wheat tortillas (which, by the way, are delicious with peanut butter!) filled with beans, grilled onions, squash and zucchini, topped with pico de gallo and avocado! Even as I write this the delicious smell of a crock pot full of pinto beans with lots of onions, jalapeno, garlic and such is making my tummy growl! YUM-O!

More importantly, though, I've started the past two mornings in prayer. I mean literally started the morning by getting out of bed and getting on my knees. Such a sweet time with the Lord! I will definitely try to keep that up even after the fast is over. 

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