Our church begins each year with 21 days of prayer and fasting. This year, from January 21 to February 11, my husband wanted to follow the Daniel fast and I wanted to fast watching television. So, we did both. (See also Kristen Feola‘s book “The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast” and her blog “Ultimate Daniel Fast“)
I had really felt that the television was being left on or turned on without anyone ever watching it. It was starting to annoy me because I can’t read and have the TV on at the same time. I’m so easily distracted. Oh, look! A bunny!
I’ve never done a fast where food was involved (last year I fasted Facebook), so it was all new to me. I had to go online and research what a Daniel fast was and what we could and couldn’t eat. I wanted to make sure that the fast was compatible with my husband’s diabetes (it so was). I have to clarify that we had been eating out almost every night. The last thing I want to do when I get home is cook. Tim usually doesn’t want to eat what I’m cooking and we’ll eat together if we go somewhere where everyone has something that they like to eat. Besides, he wouldn’t eat a vegetable if it were the only food left on the planet. And before you say anything, he’s 17 years old, 6’5″, 240 lbs and hasn’t eaten a vegetable since about age 4. I think he’s going to make it.
Daniel 10:3 – All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.
The Daniel fast is VERY restrictive in what you can and can not eat. Basically, you can eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You can drink basic juices (trying to keep processing to a minimum) and water. No meat, dairy, added sugar, bread, coffee, tea (even green tea), soda, or alcohol. I love dead cow! I really like meat. But, I know I’m addicted to carbs. I could feel myself starting to bloat before I started the fast. My pants were tighter. My rings were tighter. It wasn’t a good thing.
We headed to the grocery store on Saturday after not getting our weekly Panera Bread breakfast pastries and 7-11 coffee. We had to adapt the fast just a little for our tastes. I don’t eat regular oatmeal, so I started eating raisins and spice instant oatmeal and I added raisins and some extra spices, but no sugar and no butter. Scott and I like to go to Starbucks to read and study because it’s quiet and there are very few distractions, but we couldn’t just go and not drink something, so we started drinking Starbucks Tazo Tea – Refresh, which has no caffeine. I did add a couple of packets of honey because it just tastes better.
I began cooking dinner at home every night. Instead of eating what was being offered in our church’s cafe, I brought salads from home. We learned what veggie burgers tasted better than others. Morningstar Farms Grillers Prime burgers are fabulous and taste almost like beef. Their chicken patties were good too. There were some we didn’t like. we got food advice from vegans/vegetarians who had gone before us. We turned down a football party because of the food and TV. We missed the Super Bowl!
I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was in a quiet house. We sometimes put on music and sometimes had complete silence in the house. Ahhh…peace. I got a lot of reading done.
You might think that we were deprived during the 21 days, but I can tell you that it was probably the healthiest we ate in our whole lives. My gastrointestinal issues disappeared. I stopped taking antacids; a small miracle! That bloating; gone. My clothes started to fit again, and then they got a bit looser. I learned that there’s a “religious” way of fasting and a fasting that comes from the heart. I know that God knew my heart even when I changed what kind of oatmeal I ate or if I used a tiny bit of honey for my tea.
What I know now is that I’d rather have a good, healthy meal at home with my family than a meal at a restaurant where it’s loud, my food isn’t always good, and it certainly isn’t as healthy. Scott had me pick up some veggies burgers that last time I was at the store. He has grown fond of the roasted vegetables that I cook with olive oil and herbs. We’ve cut out coffee almost completely, except for a couple times of month. I actually sit down and eat breakfast in the morning instead of grabbing some taquitos with my 7-11 coffee every morning. We both drink mostly water now. We’ve cut back on the television. We have a little more money in the bank, too. I would like to say that Tim has started to eat vegetables, but you’d have to wake me from that dream.
I know that I felt like I was in a different place in my relationship with God. I know that I’ll do it again next year when the 21 days of fasting and praying come around again because it was good for my soul.
That is why the LORD says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He is eager to relent and not punish.
Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve,
sending you a blessing instead of this curse.
Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine
to the LORD your God as before.
Blow the ram’s horn in Jerusalem!
Announce a time of fasting;
call the people together
for a solemn meeting.
I’m writing with Ann Voskamp, the author of the best selling book One Thousand Gifts and a bunch of fine bloggers about the practice of fasting. Please head over to Ann’s blog to see what she has to say and to see the other bloggers’ links.