Fasting can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Fasting is simply a period of time that you give up food (or something else you depend on) so you can turn your focus toward God.There are multiple ways to participate in the fast. You might choose to do the Daniel Fast—which is basically no meats, no sweets, and no treats— or you may decide to fast all entertainment—Netflix, social media, YouTube, and news outlets. Whatever your fast looks like, remember, it’s not about what you’re giving up but what you're going to gain.
Here are some options to help find a type of fast that works for you:
Avoid meats, sweets, and treats—usually for 21 days. Instead eat fruits, vegetables, rice, and beans. Avoid dairy, bread, meats, and alcohol. See FAQs below for more details about the Daniel Fast.
A partial fast is usually from sun up to sun down—drinking juice and water and eating a light dinner at night.
Drink liquids only for a set period of days (please consult your physician before beginning a full fast).
You may not be able to fast for 21 days. Choose a 3-day or 7-day fast. This can be a partial fast, full fast, or Daniel Fast.
Food isn’t the only option when it comes to fasting, especially for those with specific health conditions. We all have little things in our life that take up our time, like TV or streaming platforms, phone apps, digital devices, video games, books, or even music. Whatever it might be, setting distractions aside for a time can create more space for connection with God.
If you’re wondering, “Where did the Daniel Fast originate?” That’s a great question. The Daniel Fast was first observed by the prophet Daniel in the Bible. On one occasion, Daniel was greatly concerned for his people and sought the Lord’s wisdom during a time of prayer and fasting.
Daniel 10:2-3 says, “At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips.” The meaning of “choice food” is not clear; however, most commentaries conclude that Daniel avoided bread and sweets. The Message translation sums up Daniel’s eating habits during that time: “I ate only plain and simple food.”
The idea behind the Daniel Fast is not to replicate Daniel’s menu but to imitate his spiritual hunger. Daniel’s passion for the Lord caused him to seek spiritual food rather than physical food, which should be the desire for anyone doing the Daniel Fast.
Foods You May Eat
Foods To Avoid
Fasting sounds easier in concept than it proves to be in practice. It can be surprising how on-edge we feel when we miss a meal. Here are some simple pieces of advice.
Plan what you’ll do instead of eating. Fasting isn’t merely an act of self-deprivation, but a spiritual discipline for seeking more of God’s fullness. This means we should have a plan for what positive pursuit to undertake in the time we normally eat. We spend a good portion of our day with food in front of us. One significant part of fasting is the time it creates for prayer and meditation on God’s Word.
Before diving headlong into a fast, craft a simple plan. Connect your fast to a specific purpose, or something you are believing God for. Identify what that is and design a focus to replace the time you would have spent eating. Without a purpose and plan, it’s not fasting; it’s just going hungry.
So as you plan your fast, consider how it will affect others. If you have regular lunches with colleagues or dinners with family or roommates, assess how your abstaining will affect them. Consider letting them know ahead of time instead of springing it on them in the moment.
Fasting from food is not for everyone, especially those with certain health conditions. But fasting is not limited to abstaining from food. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose.”
If it is not wise for you to go without food, consider fasting from television, computers, media, or some other regular enjoyment that would bend your heart toward greater enjoyment of Jesus.
Scripture References for Fasting: Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 9:14-15, Luke 18:9-14
Relation to Prayer and Reading of the Word: 1 Samuel 1:6-8, 17-18, Nehemiah 1:4, Daniel 9:3, 20, Joel 2:12, Luke 2:37, Acts 10:30, Acts 13:2
Corporate Fasting: 1 Samuel 7:5-6, Ezra 8:21-23, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Joel 2:15-16, Jonah 3:5-10, Acts 27:33-37