The Daniel Fast is based upon the Old Testament prophet, Daniel, who intentionally and willingly abstains from certain foods for spiritual reasons. The first time Daniel fasts is in Daniel, Chapter 1:3-15.
The first time he fasted was for ten days. The purpose was more for the benefit of others than for himself. He knew the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of his dietary habits. But the Babylonians did not—not until they saw for themselves the benefits of eating the foods God designed our bodies to optimally ‘operate’ on.
The second time Daniel fasted was to enable Daniel to hear God more clearly—to bring his body under the control of the spirit rather than the other way around (giving into cravings, eating for comfort, out of boredom, etc.). Both times, however, Daniel’s fasting was for the glory of God. And that’s what your fasting should be about, too. Fasting isn’t a diet. Yes, your body benefits tremendously, but that’s because in fasting you are giving your body back to God spiritually and physically.
My prayer is that you will use each of the following twenty-one days to allow God to change you from the inside out—physically, emotionally, and spiritually
There are actually several different purposes or reasons for fasting. The reasons we see in the Bible for fasting include grief, focusing on God’s will, worship, and as an expression or way of requesting something from God.
David fasted in his grief over his infant son’s illness. King Darius fasted to express his grief for having to comply with the law that required him to throw Daniel into a den of lions. The Israelites fasted as a show of grief over their sinful ways. It is a way to draw our attention or focus on God. Moses fasted for forty days prior to receiving the Ten Commandments. Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days following his baptism by John the Baptist and just prior to being tempted by Satan. Anna fasted as an act of worship and praise for the baby Jesus. Saul (later, Paul) fasted for three days following his conversion for the purpose of showing his dependence and submission to Christ. Esther also fasted as an expression of humility to allow God to work through her to save the Jewish people.
Fasting should serve the same purposes for us as it did for the people we read about in the Bible. And yes, we should fast. While there is no commandment saying, “Thou shall fast”, there isn’t one that says “Thou shall pray”, either. But Jesus lets us know we are expected to do both when he says (in the Sermon on the Mount) when you pray and when you fast—not if.