Daniel Fast


Our church family just finished a 21-day Daniel fast and time of prayer.  For those of you who may not know, a Daniel fast is patterned after how Daniel in the Bible fasted and prayed:

Daniel 10:2, 3In those days, I Daniel was mourning [probably repentance prayer for his nation] three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

At the end of the 21 days that Daniel fasted, an angel came with revelation from heaven for Daniel.  His prayers were answered.

It’s amazing what people do with a small passage in the Bible like that.  There are umpteen web sites that will tell you exactly how to do a Daniel fast.  Supposedly, the web site authors have done research, and have discovered exactly what Daniel ate and what he didn’t eat during that time.  But the web sites do not agree with each other, so either several somebodies’ research is faulty, or else they are making it up as they go along.  (Can I say this, and get away with it?)

One web site declares that on a Daniel fast, we must eat all whole-grain bread, fruits and veggies galore, no preservatives, no sugar, no meat, no dairy, no oil of any kind.  Another site allows dairy, including butter (but not margarine).  Another says sugar is bad, but honey is acceptable.  Still another says we cannot eat any bread.

I did not think the verses in the Bible were as hard as all that to understand — No wine and no flesh is pretty straightforward: we weren’t going to be eating meat, and we don’t drink wine anyway.  No pleasant bread tells me just that — the cookies, sweet breads, and goodies of that ilk gotta go.  Some translations say “no pleasant food.”  OK, so fruit is a pleasant food in my book, so shouldn’t that go, too?  (But we ate fruit.  We had to eat something.)

My family obsessed over food for two weeks leading up to the fast.  I never saw my husband and child so preoccupied with their stomachs before!  They were wringing their hands about what in the world they were going to eat.  Now, you have to understand how serious this was to them.  My daughter is a growing teenager, and teenagers need a lot of fuel.  My husband is six feet tall and weighs about 150 pounds on a good day.  He has a high metabolism and a high-energy job.  He eats constantly, just to keep going and maintain weight in the process.  We call him The Hummingbird.  I, on the other hand, do not need more fuel.  Maintaining weight, for me, means not blimping out and breaking the scale.  I saw this fast as a marvelous opportunity to lose a few pounds and not have to cook!

It was very interesting hearing from our church friends how they were doing the fast.  They ran the gamut from hard core fruit-and-veggies-only people to letter-of-the-law types who tried to get as close to the line without stepping over it as possible.  One family in our acquaintance finally decided that cheese pizza would fit the fast criteria, since there wasn’t any meat on it.   They managed to find one with a whole wheat crust.  Hmmm.  Some spent many hours in the kitchen, coming up with gourmet bean delights that were as tasty as any meat dish ever thought of.  I rather thought this might be defeating the purpose.  I thought we were supposed to suffer a little, and use the time we would normally spend preoccupied with eating on prayer.  Well, what do I know?

Several of our people suffered horribly without their Starbucks or Mountain Dew fix.  The caffeine withdrawal was enormous.  My sympathies to them.

My daughter decided she was going to fit into the get-as-close-to-the-line group.  She read all those web sites, and picked the most appealing “acceptable” foods from each.  On the first day of the fast, I caught her eating white bread with honey on it.  I think potato chips (a veggie) would have been next on her agenda, if I hadn’t put my two cents’ worth in.

“This is a fast, after all, Beebee!  It’s supposed to be a little hard for you.  Somehow I don’t think honey bread is fast material.”  I noticed that the next day she was dutifully gagging down the whole grain bread with no sweeties on top.

It was a challenging three weeks.  We were not hardcore.  I would describe our eating patterns as moderate.  We drank milk and ate some butter on our bread.  We popped pounds of popcorn in olive oil.  We ate a few baked potatoes.  We will be paying off the credit card debt for the fruit and veggie grocery bill for the next year!  (Daniel fasts are an expensive way to eat.)  My child refused to eat beans under any circumstances.  We were hungry a lot; the food was just too boring to care about eating it, starved or not.

I reminded my family that things could be much worse.  What if the angel hadn’t come to Daniel at the end of 21 days?  We could have been on this fast for three months, or a year, if the angel had taken that long to get to Daniel!  So, I heard a few thanksgiving prayers from our teenager, “Thank You, Jesus, for not waiting 52 days to send the angel to Daniel!”  It’s amazing the things you can find to be thankful for.

Yesterday was the first day off the fast.  You want to know what we ate, don’t you?  We had been carefully planning the menu for a week, and it was outrageous.  I had a Toaster Strudel for breakfast and potato chips for midmorning snack.  Also part of a chocolate candy bar.  Beebee ate a fat-laden store-bought muffin as big as a softball.  We had milk and an apple, to assuage our consciences. We had Dairy Queen ice cream cake for lunch.  I did not feel well all afternoon.  I prayed my gall bladder would hold up!  This did not stop the excess at suppertime, however.  We indulged in a Little Caesar’s pizza.  We controlled ourselves a teeny bit and did not eat quite the whole thing.

Today, we will climb back out of the abyss of indulgence and eat with more sanity.  The junk we ate yesterday is not typical for us.  I think I’ve bought Toaster Strudels only once before in my whole life, and if the potato chip companies had to depend on people like us, they’d all be bankrupt.  Ditto for Dairy Queen and Little Caesar’s.  It was fun for a day, but will not be a trend.  (And my gall bladder prayers were answered, by the way.)

So yes, thank You Lord, for coming to Daniel after 21 days instead of 60, thank You for the answers to prayer You are sending our way — and thank You for potato chips!

Sequel: Daniel Fast Revisited  
Additional Sequel: Weird Search Terms #4  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] most popular blog entry ever at Over 50, Still Kickin’ has been the one on the Daniel Fast.  In it, I joshed about my daughter thinking a potato chip counted as a veggie, and about a family […]


  2. […] My most popular blog post ever, by the way, was on the Daniel Fast.  Read the original here. […]


  3. Wow, this was awsome. Thank you so much for posting your Daniel Fast Experience. I started the Daniel Fast about 2 weeks ago and you are so right about all the differen sites saying different things that one can and/or cannot eat. Like the honey for instance, and even the butter. I saw a site that suggested margerine in a recipe. I myself use honey. Don’t think that I can go another day eating oat mean with no sweatener. Your post has been very helpful. There were many days I spent feeling bad because I was not sure if I was going against some devine rule of what to eat and what not to eat. I did the same thing your family did before the fast. Days leading up to the fast I had sweetpotato pie, and two slices of pound cake…get this…for breakfast. That is so not me. Two weekd in now, I must say that I feel pretty good, have lost a couple of inches and feel closer to the divine power (God) that many speak about. Thank again for such a great post. Most importantly, I appreciate you being honest.


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