For about 10 years I have started the new year with a 21 day fast. It is typically referred to as the 21-day Daniel fast based on the biblical account found in Daniel 1:12 and Daniel 10:2-3. I am not an expert on fasting. However, I have had some life changing-God experiences through this spiritual practice. There are many books written on spiritual fasting and the benefits. In addition, there are many books written from a medical perspective in reference to the risks and benefits of fasting. This article is neither and can not be substituted for either, but rather is an account of my own personal experience and practice. There are a lot of opinions regarding fasting and I think one thing to keep in mind is fasting is a personal experience with God. Even if you are planning to do a corporate fast with your local church, what you experience is between you and the Lord. Not everyone will have the same experience so do yourself a favor and don’t compare your experience with others.
What I’ve learned:
Be intentional. Have a plan. If you do not know where to start, do an internet search regarding Biblical fasting. There are too many resources to list. The one book I use year after year is the Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola. This book explains the reasons why fasting is so important for Christians. It includes a daily devotional reading plan and over 100 recipes. If you are not intentional with your fasting, you run the risk of just being hungry. Below are some examples included in my 2019 Daniel Fast Plan.
Restrict food intake- stick with Daniel fast guidelines for food
Fast from other distractions such as social media, internet use, sex, or binge-watching Netflix . Fasting is sacrificial. Therefore, I deny myself and seek the Lord.
Believe God’s promises and maintain high expectations of growth and communion with Jesus
Praise and thank the Lord daily
Praying often throughout the day
Read Bible daily- devotions, scriptures
Accountability- prayer partner. Accountability is important in our spiritual walk especially when we are seeking to grow in our faith. We are not meant to fight these battles alone, but rather we are called to be in relationship with God and with one another (Matthew 27:37-40). Even the angels came and ministered to Jesus during his fast and temptation (Matthew 4:11). For more information on why accountability is so important read my blog article Accountability .
Journal-ing- recording my prayer requests, goals, and answered prayers for 2019.
Seek: scripture for the year, word for the year, guidance for ministry opportunities, and opportunities for growth
I value organization; therefore, lists are helpful for me as I plan out my fast. I list out my prayers so that I am sure to mention each one during my morning prayer time. I list out my goals for 2019 (spiritual, physical, family, and career). I will plan out meals and only purchase fast friendly foods. I ask my accountability partner to schedule a regular/consistent time to check-in with and pray together. And I schedule time on my calendar to journal each day. To maintain this type of fast requires discipline and self-control which I will be tapping into Jesus for-daily.
Plan but be flexible and open to what God wants to do in and through you. I have specific prayer requests and desires I am seeking God for, but he may have something different in mind and I must be open to that in order to receive it. Ultimately, my desire is to grow spiritually and know Jesus more intimately and that happens when I deny myself and seek Him. I must be willing to set aside my agenda and be open to the move of the Spirit. Every fast has been a different experience for me, but God has never failed to honor the sacrifice. He has blessed me every time exactly with what I needed when I needed it.