The Daniel Fast is a 21-day spiritual experience can change you from the inside out. The purpose of the fast is not to limit or focus on the food guidelines, but rather to create a spiritual hunger that results in a deeper closeness with God. After a certain point during the fast, you may feel like you can only go on with God’s help… especially if eating meat is very dear to your heart. The outcome you’re seeking can be growth or change such as removing bad habits or picking up new ones that reflect the fruits of the Spirit. This is a private journey and it helps to remove distractions such as media that does not edify the Lord during this timeframe.
1. Prepare Spiritually
The intent of the fast is to feed your spirit with so many good things, that only these good things come out of you as well. This requires creating time in your day for God. Prayer alarms work wonders in our house. I set a alarm on my phone for 9pm everyday to pause from whatever I’m doing and pray. During the fast, you can add a few more prayer alarms throughout the day so that you’re talking with God more than you usually would. If prayer is new for you, you can start with saying the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).
“This is the fast that I have chosen… to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke. Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth.” – Isaiah 58:6. You can also spend time reading your Bible and choosing a specific area you are seeking the Lord about. You can study Bible verses that relate to that topic by using a topical Bible to steer you straight to relevant passages. If you want to pray more for example, that could be a great topic to seek guidance for during the fast.
2. Prepare Your Mind
The fast is a private journey and once you’ve determined why you’re doing it, you’ll need to practice telling others why you’ve changed your eating habits so dramatically. You can share that you’re on a diet, but typically you keep the fact that you’re fasting to yourself. If you’re pressed about the diet, you can say you’re doing clean eating, or vegan to reset. If you’re fasting in January, most people will understand. If they don’t, try to not to spend a lot of time around those people because at the beginning your willpower may be small.
3. Prepare Your Palette
I highly recommend weaning yourself off a few highly addictive foods several days before you start. Coffee and sugary drinks like juices and soda are extremely tough habits to break if you drink them daily, so I recommend cutting down on those in the days leading up to the start of the fast. Sugar is everywhere in American diets including salad dressing, ketchup and bread, so I recommend replacing your breakfast with a Daniel-friendly meal for the week leading up to the fast. This will help you begin to understand the food guidelines so you won’t shock your taste buds so much. A few days into the real fast you may find yourself irritable and that’s totally normal and expected. Your body is in fight or flight mode due to the reduction in high fat, high sugar calories and your instincts are to irritate your body so that you either find more food or sleep.
4. Prepare Your Plant-Strong Pantry
Take a look at the food list and then throw away all the foods in your house that don’t meet this guideline. I know this sounds extreme, but the physical changes you’re making are significant. If you don’t, you’ll be tempted. A few years ago when the entire family including the kids participated in the fast and I found Miss C climbing the pantry shelves “looking for lemonade” because the sugar monster was rearing his ugly head. We were just a few days into the fast and we didn’t even own any lemonade, but her body was going through sugar withdrawal.
You can start by looking up a few recipes that appeal to you, and then head to the grocery store with a list of your favorite fruits and vegetables as well. The foods should be eaten in plenty, so make sure to stock up on enough fruits and veggies to snack on as well. I think God was super clever with food portions because the larger the food the more you’re suppose to eat. Melon = eat a lot of this, blueberries = eat a little.
5. Surround Yourself with Support
The impact of the fast is tremendous, but you’ll have to push to make it through. You’ll be crazy to think you can continue your current lifestyle. I had to drop going out to lunch with friends because there’s too much pressure to break the fast. Restaurants make it extremely difficult because you’re not in control of how the food’s prepared. You can pack your own meals the night before (if this isn’t a part of your schedule set a meal alarm to remind you to pack your food) and then eat lunch by yourself or with other people from your church that are also on the fast. It’s motivating when you’re accountable to other people. If it helps, look up yummy recipes from vegan and plant-based sites like Forks Over Knives and stay prayed up!