It all starts with the life of Daniel, from the Bible. Maybe you know Daniel from the famous encounter in the lion’s den or the fiery furnace. Or, if you are more of a Biblical scholar, you may focus on his life of prayer and his gift of prophecy to the church. Any way you slice it, his life was extraordinary. But what many people miss is that Daniel’s success was not only rooted in prayer but also his ability to guard his health. His spirit was strong but so was his dedication to eating the foods that nourished his body. That allowed him to have the mental and physical fortitude to carry out his calling. He was a mover and shaker in his time, just like you are in yours.
The Story Behind the Daniel Fast
The prophet Daniel and his three friends were handpicked to be taken into the king’s service for three years. There they were trained in linguistics and culture. The king required that all students be “healthy, handsome, smart, wise, educated, and fit to serve in the royal palace.” But he also decreed that they “eat the same food and wine that I am served.” Most historians agree that the king’s diet would have consisted mostly of meat and alcohol, which also may have been offered up to idols.
Doing It God’s Way
Daniel wanted nothing to do with idolatry, and he resolved to eat only what God wanted his people to eat. So he asked the king’s chief official for permission to be exempt from the royal dietary requirements. The chief official was uneasy about his request. If Daniel and his friends ended up looking worse than their peers, the official would be punished with execution. Knowing this, Daniel proposed an experiment: “for the next ten days, let us have only vegetables and water at mealtime and when the ten days are up, compare how we look with the other young men, and decide what to do with us.” The chief official agreed, and ten days later Daniel and his friends looked ten times healthier than their peers who had been eating the king’s diet. (Daniel 1)
The Benefits for Daniel
Daniel also fasted and refined his diet on another occasion, when he was greatly concerned for his people. (Daniel 10) Through these partial fasts, he and his friends gained wisdom, spiritual understanding/insight, answered prayer, Godly favor, as well as better appearance and health.
The Daniel Fast Today
Today, the church world-wide has adapted Daniel’s fast to a 21- or 30-day fast aimed at starting off the new year with prayer and fasting. Essentially, the Daniel Fast is a whole food plant-based diet. Read the article on what to eat on the Daniel Fast for more specific details. The Daniel Fast A Bridge to Healthy Living takes Daniel’s fast one step further by specially tailoring the fast to improve physical health through spiritual connection. The goal is the same as Daniel’s: being healthy for a purpose.
Some Things Don’t Ever Change
Daniel was only a teenager when he took a stand regarding his diet. Daniel’s early commitment to optimal health equipped him to carry out his purpose well into his 90s with spiritual and mental clarity. This is so relevant today! We still face challenges when we make decisions about our health and what we will feed our families. We’re also still tempted by unhealthy offerings. We still need our bodies to carry us through challenges both earthly and divine.
Why Should I Try the Daniel Fast?
Studies have linked the standard American diet to the crisis we face with chronic illness, which saps our ability carry out our purpose at our highest potential. To validate Daniel’s experience, studies have shown that a whole food plant-based diet can prevent, improve, and even reverse common chronic illnesses. Not only is it important to understand where the Daniel Fast came from but it is crucial to understand the meaning—where it wants you to go.
If Daniel’s story inspires you, challenge yourself and participate in the Daniel Fast. Have your own story to tell. If you feel overwhelmed, you can always start small: check out the 4-day challenge. The truth is that God has a purpose for everyone, but He needs us healthy.