Also, I struggle with the logic of fasting. What does it actually do? Does changing my eating habits actually motivate God to act in my life? I've studied fasting and what people say about fasting, and of course it's about prayer and surrender, but it's hard to pray when your stomach is growling and you have a pounding headache because you haven't eaten. And I know it makes us more in tune to what God's voice. And so on and so on. A few years ago I fasted out of desperation for my son, and this was a powerful experience, but even now, I think that doesn't make sense. I've read the Scripture. I've even written about the importance of fasting.
But that doesn't mean that I do it.
As I closed out the year, I began to think about things I want to do differently in 2011. I want to practice spiritual disciplines. I want to follow Jesus' examples. I want to learn to be dependent on God and his power instead of my own strength (or lack of it). And I began to think about fasting. And I mentioned it in a blog post.
Duane sat next to me as he read that blog, and he mentioned that men's ministry is doing a Daniel Fast in January, and he's thinking about doing it. Actually, he mentioned that to me about a week previously, but I really wasn't interested in fasting at that time. This time I told him that if he wanted to do the men's ministry fast, I would do it with him. Seriously, if Duane went on a Daniel Fast, and I didn't do it with him, he would end up not eating at all.
Depending on which website you resource, it's based on Daniel 1 or Daniel 10, and it lasts for ten days or twenty-one days.
In the first chapter of Daniel, Daniel and his friends are taken into captivity, but they don't want to consume the food provided for them. Instead, they beg the chief official, saying, "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink."
In Daniel 10, Daniel begins a fast in response to a disturbing vision. He mourns for three weeks and eats "no choice food; no meat or wine . . ." He also uses no lotions, whatever that means.
And the way it's interpreted today, Daniel Fast is essentially a vegan diet. No animal fats, meaning no meat and no dairy. No sugar. No coffee. No wine. Basically, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains. Nothing about lotion.
That's another problem I have with fasting. The "rules" for the Daniel fast vary according to websites. Yes, the basic idea is the same, but these websites have very specific rules, and I begin to wonder on what basis they made these rules.
At any rate, I want to fast. I want to follow Jesus' example. And his instruction. And I'm glad Duane and I are fasting together.
I thought about not writing about this fast in the blog. I'm not sure I think fasts are supposed to be kind of private. In the end, I decided to record my experience with this Daniel Fast as well as my doubts with fasting and what God does in the process. Also, I imagine that I'm not the only one who struggles with fasting. And so, here I am.
I made a list of things I want to pray about during this fast:
- Spiritual renewal. For myself. I want to get back to basics. Love God with heart, mind, and strength.
- Jason's revival. Honestly, I love my son so much, and his hopelessness breaks my heart. I just want God to step in and reveal himself to Jason.
- Newbreak Santee - spiritual growth. By that, I mean that those who attend love God increasingly, and that many are drawn to Christ through the ministry of this church.
- My life group. Direction. Growth.
- My family. Duane. Jason. Kirsten. Caitlin. And Patrick. He's not really family, but he feels like family right now.
I'm following a Daniel Fast Bible reading plan from YouVersion. (YouVersion.com is a free online Bible in multiple translations, and you can put it on your smart phone if you want.)
Today is Daniel 10. As mentioned previously, God gives Daniel a disturbing vision about an imminent war. The crazy thing about Daniel's visions is that he knows what's going to happen, but he can't change anything. And so he begins to mourn, and he begins to fast and pray.
At the end of his fast, actually 24 days later, he sees another vision. This time a great man, dressed in linen, with a gold belt and eyes like flaming torches and arms and legs like bronze appears to Daniel. The man's voice sounds like multitudes speaking. Only Daniel can see the man, but the others around him are terrified, and Daniel fall to the ground.
The man touches him and speaks to him, saying, "Stand up and don't be afraid. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them."
So, essentially the man set out to see Daniel as soon as Daniel began fasting. It took him over three weeks because he ran into a little spiritual warfare with the Prince of Persia.
And I don't think I'll be seeing any terrifying angels, but I do want to gain spiritual understanding. I do want to humble myself before God. I do want God to hear me. I don't understand fasting, and maybe that's my problem. I want things to make sense, but the spiritual things of this world don't really follow my logic.
And that's all I've got from this passage.
Seeking God - focused on him. Humility.
Maybe that's enough for today.