January is a great time to reflect and reset. The Daniel Fast has been a way for me to do this over the past few years. This plan is a combination of physical and spiritual discipline designed to draw the one doing it closer to God. Different from traditional fasting by abstaining from meals, this fast abstains from certain foods for a period of 21 days. They are the foods most people tend to overindulge in. Reading Daniel Fast devotionals or simply spending more time in bible study and prayer are companions to the physical component.
Most notably, the Daniel Fast is a vegan, sugar-free fast. This means lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It also means no refined sugars, sugar substitutes, alcohol, or leavened breads. The only drink is supposed to be water.
In the past, I had done the Daniel Fast for up to 2 weeks. The standard practice is a 21-day fast. For one reason or another, I never made it that far, previously choosing to break the fast before 21 days. This time, as a way to invite God to have His way in my life in 2018, I resolved to dig in and stay the course. For good measure, I unplugged from social media during the fast too. Body and mind needed a good reboot.
One of the problems with the Daniel Fast is that it can quickly become legalistic, which is a distraction from focusing on God. Before, I was so concerned about not breaking any of the “Daniel Fast Rules” that I had whipped myself into a tizzy over it. At one point a few years ago, I encountered a moral conundrum because the Grey Poupon mustard I wanted to use to make salad dressing listed sugar as the second to last ingredient. NO SUGAR! It would be breaking the “rules” to use that mustard.
I’m not kidding when I tell you the Lord spoke to my heart as I wrestled with my morals in front of the refrigerator. In my spirit, I sensed Him say “Mustard is NOT your stronghold”. Had there been someone there to take a photograph, I suspect I’d have been captured slack-jawed with a jar of Grey Poupon in my hand, clad in slippers and flannel pajamas.
Mustard is not my stronghold? No, I guess it isn’t. God knows my real stronghold is an emotionally-driven sweet tooth, which you can read about HERE. Besides this, I have an unhealthy fixation on breads of all kinds. Bread = comfort in my economy.
I pondered this condiment-focused message from above. Indeed, the iota of sugar in the jar of mustard I was holding was not my problem. My heart was the problem. The choice to stuff my gullet with sweets and carbs as a way of expressing frustration, jubilation, fear, sadness, or any other emotion on the spectrum was the real issue.
These emotions should be dealt with vertically by lifting my eyes to the Lord, the One from whom my help comes. While the discipline of the Daniel Fast food plan is good, it’s my heart that needs discipline more than my body. For where the heart goes, the body will follow.
For where the heart goes, the body will follow.
For this same reason, while doing the Daniel Fast, I drink conservative amounts of coffee and tea, sans cream and sugar. They come from plants as far as I’m concerned. During the 21 days, I ate a vegan diet, abstained from regular bread and did not add sugar/sweetener to anything I ate. I refuse to allow the minuscule amount of sugar in mustard to give me a guilt trip. I don’t want to become entangled in legalism when I am pursuing freedom.
I don’t want to become entangled in legalism when I am pursuing freedom.
What I learned from this recent Daniel Fast is that I can trust and rely on God. He alone is my help and strength. I am capable of eating healthfully in reasonable portions. I can detox from social media and press into the Word of God, instead of wasting time with superficial drivel. He strengthens me.
So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.
Strongholds have been broken. In only 21 days, cravings for sweets and the habit of emotional eating are no more. My yearning for approval from the world is history. The number of views and likes on my blog is no longer relevant. I’m writing for an Audience of One, for His glory.
Spending more time with the Lord over the past few weeks has really centered my heart and spirit. The heart of God seems closer and I will continue to pursue Him for direction and help. Paring down my meals and my media proved to be a great combination.
Lord, I offer 2018 to you. Use me and use it for Your great purpose. Help me to fix my eyes on You as the only portion I really need. Amen.
How can you pare down in your own life to make time and room for God to draw near?
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