Within these first three weeks of 2014 we have been following a Daniel Fast to achieve a few things:
1) Detox from the poor nutrition running up to and during the festive season &
2) Lose a few vanity pounds but primarily
3) Know a closer-felt proximity to Jesus
The overwhelming reason for doing any Christian fast is homesickness – homesickness for heaven and homesickness for Jesus. When Jesus was asked in Mark 2 as to why His disciples were not fasting, He points John’s disciples and the Pharisees (who’d asked) to the day when the Bridegroom would be taken from them (us, the church) and when we’d then fast. We fast because we miss Jesus and we long to be sensitised to His presence and His voice. (Have a look at an article I wrote a few years ago here).
Fasting could involve laying down social media or DVDs or whatever but in its literal meaning fasting requires an abstinence from food…a covering of the mouth as the word literally means.
Over the last few weeks as things of the flesh have been stripped back, I’ve known a heightened awareness of His voice and His presence. I’m convinced that when we can move beyond a view of fasting that makes us shudder at just the thought (flesh focused) into an understanding of the gift that it is for us to become closer to our God (Spirit focused), we will long to fast and we will do so regularly.
Daniel fasted for 21 days, (see Daniel ch.10) and specifically that no rich food would pass his lips. This is part of the discipline of the Daniel Fast in that it interrupts your lifestyle for three weeks. You have to be:-
1) More selective about what you can eat (no sugar, caffeine, meat, dairy, yeast, alcohol)
2) More oriented around simplicity rather than excess (not over-eating)
3) More Spirit-led rather than eating for anaesthetising pain/emotional disquiets (we all do this)
What I love more than anything about fasting is that it reveals the reality of our life in Jesus Christ that we are often oblivious to. One of the main things I have noticed in the last few weeks is the moment by moment awareness of the presence of God that I would say is not normal. i.e. While chatting to a friend at work or leading worship in a thick time of praise – just an experience and awareness of how close He really is to us.
The simple truth, and Daniel knew it, is that He loves us. Surely forgetting some pizza and cuppas for a few weeks to know this more is worth it!
If you’re reading this, wherever you are, I encourage you to think about doing a Daniel Fast for these reasons here and to ask yourself whether you fast as part of your Christian life and, if you don’t, why you don’t?
Christian fasting is rooted in homesickness for Jesus.