The Daniel Fast is one method of spiritual fasting where certain foods are restricted. It is generally conducted for 21 consecutive days, but can also be a great fast for Lent. If you choose to fast for Lent, you may decide to take Sabbath days on Sunday from your fast. Fasting is a discipline used to draw near to God and present your needs to Him. It is not simply abstaining, but also filling with more of God.
In the Bible, we meet Daniel. He and many other Jewish boys were moved from their homeland of Jerusalem to the bustling, but corrupt, city of Babylon after the Babylonians invaded and destroyed their homes. They were thrust into a new environment. New cultural norms, new temptations, new expectations. The king had big plans for these strong, fit, intelligent boys. He was eager to butter them up and have them fit into their new surroundings. He submerged them in the culture, values, language, and literature of their new home for three years. He gave them the decadent food and wine from the palace. He even changed their names in an effort to change their entire identity. But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or wine. (Daniel 1:1-16) It may seem harmless (and perhaps even smart) to fit in, blend in, eat the food, and drink the wine. However, Daniel knew the dangers of blending in and forgetting about God. He sets early guardrails in his life to help him stay on track. Early boundary setting in his life to remain commitment to God paved the way for many other acts of obedience in his life when things got even harder and the stakes got even higher. This early dedication proved helpful in Daniel’s life and his unwavering wholehearted dedication to God.
The Daniel Fast is roughly based on Daniel’s fast in Daniel 10:1-4 after some time in Babylon. For our purposes it is similar to a vegan plan with a few more restrictions. Only plant-based foods are allowed and only water (I'm also including black coffee) to drink. Restrictions include no sweeteners, chemicals, leavening agents, or solid fats.
Always keep in mind that the fast isn’t intended to be about food, but instead denying yourself of something for a spiritual purpose. It is to recognized God more in your want and drawing nearer to Him.
The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank...But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank...So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. (Daniel 1:5,8,16)
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. (Daniel 10:1-4)
The Typical Daniel Fast (click here for original resources)
Here are some guidelines to give you are start. Always remember that the point isn't to have a legalistic checklist, but instead guidelines that you wish to observe during this time of prayer and fasting in your life. You can decide what to include/exclude. These are simply guidelines from typical Daniel Fasts.
Foods to INCLUDE:
All fruits. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Fruits include but are apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon
All vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Vegetables include but are artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger root, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, zucchini, veggie burgers are an option if you are not allergic to soy.
All whole grains, including whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, barley, grits, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, rice cakes and popcorn.
All nuts and seeds, including sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, sesame. Also nut butters including peanut butter.
All legumes. These can be canned or dried. Legumes include dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, white beans.
All quality oils including olive, canola, grape seed, peanut, and sesame. Beverages: spring water, distilled water or other pure waters.
Other: tofu, soy products, vinegar, seasonings, salt, herbs and spices. Note: Unsweetened plant-based milks and juices can be used in recipes or on cereal, but the only beverage on the Daniel Fast is water.
Foods to AVOID:
All meat, animal, fish and seafood products including beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish and shellfish.
All dairy products including milk, cheese, cream, butter, and eggs.
All sweeteners including sugar, raw sugar, date sugar, honey, syrups, molasses, cane juice, date honey, and stevia.
All leavened bread and baked goods. All leavening agents including yeast, baking soda and baking powder.
All refined and processed foods products including artificial flavorings, food additives, chemicals, white rice, white flour, and foods that contain artificial preservatives.
All deep-fried foods including potato chips, French fries, corn chips.
All solid fats including shortening, margarine, lard and foods high in fat.
Beverages including coffee, tea, herbal teas, carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol. (NOTE: I am drinking black coffee with my fast)
READ THE LABELS...
Please make sure to always check the labels when purchasing packaged, canned or bottled foods. Look for foods that are sugarfree and chemical-free.