At this time of year, a large contingent of Shiloh Church in Oakland, CA, takes part in a three-week Daniel Fast to get off to the right start on the new year.
The term Daniel Fast because it is was the choice of Daniel not to defile himself with the food of King Nebachadnezzar. The official assigned to give him food feared that he would lose his head because Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah would not be healthy, but this was the response:
Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink….At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.” (Daniel 1:12, 15)
Thus, a Daniel Fast means no meats (and for others of you raised in the Catholic Church, fish is a meat–everything in this world is animal, vegetable, or mineral, and all animals are meat), no sweets, and no alcohol–any wonder the four looked better than their counterparts?
However, what if someone is already a vegetarian and does not drink or eat sweets often? The purpose of a fast is sacrifice, so Pastor Patrick Kiteley had other options because we do not live in a one-size fits all society:
- Full fast: no solid food. This is only recommended if one makes sure enough fruits, vegetables, and proteins are comsumed in liquid form, as in smoothies and shakes.
- One meal a day: an alternative to the full fast that allows for one solid meal a day (nutritionally, this should be breakfast if possible) and liquids throughout the rest of the day.
- Media fast: giving up television, internet, video games, movies, etc.
- Negative words, shopping, or anything else that would take effort to give up.
Keep in mind that it does not pay to try to give up more than one can. If one needs the internet for work, perhaps instead of a full media fast, perhaps giving up just television is enough; if one is diabetic, perhaps that occasional candy bar is needed and only meat is given up. Do what you can so you do not fail and carry a burden of guilt that is not God’s intention for His people: “He sent not His Son…to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)
Also, a fast without prayer is called a diet, and there are plenty of those around the country and the world. The reason to do this is to be in alignment with God and to intercede in the world we are to be stewards over.
Especially in light of the hatred and intolerance that incites a shooting of a congresswoman and leaves the innocent dead, we know this country needs prayer. With the rejection of God that is going on in the Bay Area (much of which was brought on by intolerance within the Church), we know this region needs prayer and so does every church to make sure it is a beacon of light and not darkness.