The 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 our insane indulgence the day after the fast was finished. It was meant to be fun, although I guess it was informative, too.
I am amazed at the number of people who are still reading that post, and I am really amused at the search engine terms they use to find it: “Can I eat potato chips on a Daniel Fast?” “Is cheese pizza acceptable on the Daniel Fast?” “How much weight can I lose on the Daniel Fast?” (I also think it’s pretty funny that people type whole questions into the search terms box, rather than just key words, but hey, I guess it works!)
It didn’t take me too long to figure out that all the people fixated on Daniel’s fast were not intensely spiritually-minded types. I predicted to my family, right around Christmas time, “Watch. As soon as Christmas is over, people will be swarming to this blog, looking for another diet to overcome the extra Christmas poundage.” And sure enough, that’s the way it was. New Year’s, with all its resolutions to reshape the bod into movie star likeness, brought in another wave of seekers.
So, I thought it might be a good time to poke a little fun at everybody, and also do a little educating about the Daniel Fast. It is a biblical fast, and it had nothing to do with Daniel feeling he needed to lose some excess baggage around the middle. Let’s look again at what it says in the Bible:
In those days, I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine into my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all [the equivalent of modern-day hygiene tasks], until three whole weeks were fulfilled. — Daniel 10:2, 3
At the end of twenty-one days of fasting as mentioned above, an angel came to Daniel, and said this:
… Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to chasten yourself [afflict yourself by fasting and skipping the hygiene tasks] before your God, your words were heard, and I have come because of your words [prayers]. — Daniel 10:12
So there you have it. Daniel was praying, seeking the face of the Lord, not trying to lose weight. He was not concerned about what he could get away with eating and still make the fast “count.” He was going after God with all his heart, praying for his beloved nation of Israel. And God answered by sending an angel, which Daniel saw with his physical eyes. The angel went on to tell Daniel a whole lot about future events, some of which are still to transpire.
I don’t think any of us probably want to quit taking care of our personal appearance and cleanliness for twenty-one days. I haven’t heard that even one Daniel Fast expert is suggesting such a thing, but it was a common component of fasting in Old Testament times. King David did it, too. People meant business with God back then, when they fasted. I wonder how popular the Daniel Fast would be, if not “anointing oneself” were a requirement? Maybe everyone would just do the South Beach Diet instead, and call it a fast!
So there you have it — my little attempt to put the whole Daniel Fast fad in perspective. Happy cheese pizzas and potato chips to you!
For just a little bit more on the Daniel Fast, see my post, Weird Search Terms #4. (Scroll to the bottom of the post.)