One of the most significant victories in the life of the prophet Daniel is recorded in Daniel 9. While studying the prophecy of Jeremiah, Daniel discovered that Jeremiah had proclaimed that the Babylonian captivity would last seventy years, then the Hebrew exiles would return to Israel.
Daniel looked at the calendar and discovered that the time was up – the seventy years had been fulfilled – but the Hebrew exiles were still in captivity. Daniel wondered, “What’s up?”
At this time, the Spirit of God moved upon him to engage in a devoted time of prayer and fasting, asking that God fulfill His promise for the restoration of the Jews to their homeland.
Daniel prostrated himself before God and began to confess the sins of his people. While he was praying, God dispatched the archangel Gabriel from heaven to tell Daniel what would happen to his people. The revelation he received placed a burden on his heart that weighed so heavily upon him that Daniel began to pray and fast until an answer came.
After 21 days of prayer and fasting, the angel of God appeared to Daniel and let Daniel know that God had heard his prayer the very first day he set himself to pray, but that unknowingly to Daniel, the angel had been engaged in spiritual warfare and it was Daniel’s persistence in prayer and fasting that ultimately brought a spiritual breakthrough.
Sometimes spiritual powers align themselves against governments, school systems, communities, families, individuals and churches. For these powers to be dislodged, spiritual warfare is required (Ephesians 6:12). A devoted period of twenty one days can make us sensitive to God’s activity in this world and allow us to appropriate the victory Jesus Christ has already accomplished in any and every area of our life.
Further, honoring God with 21 days of prayer and fasting can jump start your spiritual momentum at outset of a new year.
Why should I fast?
· Do you desire a deeper, more intimate relationship with God?
· Do you want to increase your spiritual sensitivity in regards to the heart of God?
· Do you need to break free from bondages that are holding you hostage?
· Do you have a friend or family member that needs to know Christ personally?
· Do you want to know God’s will for your life?
· Is there a dream inside you that only He can make possible?
· Are you in need of a healing or a miracle?
HOW TO BEGIN
Set your objective. Start with a clean goal. Be specific. Why are you fasting? Do you need spiritual renewal, guidance, physical healing, the restoration of a marriage or your family, grace to handle a difficult situation, a financial breakthrough? Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. This will enable you to pray specifically and strategically.
It is also important for you to prepare your body for the upcoming fast. Eat smaller amounts of food before starting your fast. Avoid high fat and “sugary” foods. You may want to eat raw fruits and vegetables two days before starting your fast.
The foundation of prayer and fasting is repentance. Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:
- Confess every sin the Holy Spirit brings to your mind. Accept God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
- Ask forgiveness from everyone you have hurt or offended. Forgive all of those who have hurt or offended you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3-4).
- Ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
- Surrender your life fully to the purpose and plan of God (Romans 12:1-2).
- Believe that God “rewards those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
- Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan will usually intensify his efforts when you devote yourself to prayer and fasting (Luke 4).
- Develop an accountability partner who will encourage you in your fast.
- Keep a journal during your fast. Write down specific insights God gives you from His Word, promises that you have claimed and answers to prayer that you receive.
DECIDING WHAT KIND
The type of fast you go on is between you and God. Jesus implied that all believers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14-15). For Him it was a matter of when believers should fast, not if they should fast.
Here are some options:
- A Normal (Full) Fast – Abstain from food, drink only liquids (water and / or specific juices).
Should you choose to drink juices during your fast, the best juices are from fresh watermelon, lemons, grapes, apples, cabbage, beets, carrots, celery or leafy green vegetables. Avoid any liquids containing caffeine, as they will stimulate your appetite and make fasting more difficult.
- The Daniel Fast – Abstain from meats and sweets, drink only water. (Unseasoned vegetables and most natural fruits are acceptable.)
- Combination Fast – Begin the first three days with a full or normal fast. Continue by observing the Daniel Fast for the remaining 18 days.
Note: If you are on medication or have a medical condition, you may want to consult your doctor before beginning your fast. Also, anyone engaging in a prolonged full fast should consult with their doctor.
Deciding on what kind of fast you will observe ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon your fast.
DANIEL FAST RECOMMENDED FOODS
WHOLE GRAINS: Brown Rice, Oats, Barley
LEGUMES: Dried Beans, Pinto Beans, Split Peas, Lentils, Black Eyed Peas
FRUITS: Apples, Apricots, Bananas, Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Cantaloupe, Cherries, Cranberries, Figs, Grapefruit, Grapes, Guava, Honeydew Melon, Kiwi, Lemons, Limes, Mangoes, Nectarines, Papayas, Peaches, Pears, Pineapples, Plums, Prunes, Raisins, Raspberries, Strawberries, Tangelos, Tangerines, Watermelon, etc
VEGETABLES: Artichokes, Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chili Peppers, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Garlic, Ginger Root, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Okra, Onions, Parsley, Potatoes, Radishes, Rutabagas, Scallions, Spinach, Sprouts, Squashes, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress, Yams, Zucchini
Seeds, Nuts, Sprouts
LIQUIDS: Water (as much as possible), Unsweetened Soy Milk, Herbal (caffeine free) Tea, Natural Fruit Juices (no sugar added)
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (small quantities), honey
WHAT TO EXPECT
When you fast your body detoxifies, eliminating toxins from your system. This can cause mild discomfort such as headaches and irritability as your body withdraws from caffeine and sugars. Naturally, you will experience hunger pains. Most individuals also experience bad breath. Avoid chewing gum or breath mints, as they will stimulate your appetite.
Limit your physical activity. Exercise moderately. Take time to rest.
Fasting can position you to experience miraculous results. You are following the example of Jesus when you fast.
IMPORTANT: For maximum spiritual benefit, it is important that the time normally devoted to eating be given to prayer, Bible study and being alone with God. Pray often throughout the day. Spend time in Bible Study. Make personal praise and worship a priority. Spend time in solitude and get away from every distraction possible (television, radio, cell phones, computers, etc.) The more time you spend with alone God, the more effective and meaningful your fast will be.
HOW TO END
Spend time in praise and worship… When you begin eating, begin eating gradually. Do not overeat. Suddenly reintroducing solid foods to your digestive system will probably produce negative results. Introduce solid foods gradually.
MAKING THE COMMITMENT
1. My purpose or reason for fasting is: _________________________
2. I will observe the following kind of fast: _________________________
3. I will observe this fast for this period of time: _________________________
4. My accountability partner during this fast will be: _________________________
5. Why is this the right time for me to fast: _________________________
I believe that God is the only answer to my request and that prayer without fasting is not enough to get an answer to my need. Therefore, by faith I am fasting because I desperately need God to work in this matter.
God being my strength and His grace being my basis, I commit myself to the above fast.
Signed / Date
Recommended Reading: A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Prayer and Fasting by John Piper; God’s Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis; The Beginner’s Guide to Fasting by Elmer Towns; Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough: A Guide to Nine Biblical Fasts by Elmer Towns.
CORPORATE PRAYER OPPORTUNITIES
Wednesday Evening Prayer – 6:00 PM
January 13, 20 and 27
Join us this evening for a special time of worship, God’s Word and prayer.