On Sunday this week, my pastor called for a church-wide fast, calling it a “Daniel Fast.” Now this is quite “unusual” for me and not something I’m used to in my personal church background. This is how it’s explained through the website:

The purpose of the Daniel Fast is to gain a healthier life and/or healing [Isaiah 58:8]. Daniel and his friends fasted meats, bread [sweets] and wine. Some can’t do all the items, but we encourage you to do at least one. Daniel entered a fast that included prayer for 21 days. However the Daniel Fast doesn’t have to be food, it could be TV, Facebook or any other activity you enjoy. The Daniel Fast is more than just withholding food or other things, It involves a spiritual commitment to God. God gave Daniel knowledge and understanding. Withholding food does not make us smart, but God gives wisdom to those who have the self-discipline to withhold food and take that time in praying and reading His Word.

Beginning on January 3, join us as we enter a Daniel Fast through January 23. Pray about what the focus of your fast should be and make that decision for yourself.

Why Fast? The purpose of the Daniel Fast is to gain a healthier life and/or healing (Isa. 58:8). It is a time of spiritual commitment to God.

How Long? 21 days, beginning on Monday, January 3 and ending on Sunday, January 23.

Who Can Fast? Any believer in Christ may participate. We do this together as a church, but fasting is a deeply personal experience. It does not benefit to compare your fast with others. However, it is good to encourage one another to remain committed to the fast.

I wish I could explain it as well as the pastor did, and unfortunately the recording isn’t up on the website yet, or I’d link it here.

I have personally committed to giving up all sweets and dairy (but still keep whole grains and lean meats etc). I was planning to re-start the South Beach Diet anyway, so this will fall right in line with that. And I really love the idea of bringing the spiritual aspect in to this.

I am always a HUGE fan of setting New Year’s goals, and will share here one day how I go about doing that. But one thing that is really getting through since we began attending this church is how the pastor has been harping on giving God your “first fruits” not just “leftovers.” How giving back to God the first of your money redeems the rest, so that it all can give glory back to God. He specifically made a point yesterday that we are to give God the “first fruits” of EVERYTHING: our first thoughts in the morning, our first words that we speak, and that is why he has called for this Daniel fast now, so that we as a corporate entity are giving God the first weeks of our year. Redeeming everything we have and are and do so that everything can be redeemed and be fruitful back to God.

So, today is Day 1. I am entering my own little devotional time, and was trying to figure out how to begin. Then I remembered this verse from yesterday:

Now while I (this is Daniel) was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God, while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. Daniel 9:20-21(nasb)

So, to truly begin this spiritual fast, I must begin by praying and speaking (or writing this blog, as I translate that for myself into modern day) and confessing my sins and the sins of my people. So, that’s how I’m gonna start.

I also want to point out that to those who might be new at this to take a good look at the book of Daniel. You’ll notice that he spent a lot of time confessing, very specifically. And also here in verse 21, it does say that Gabriel doesn’t come to him until “the time of the evening offering.” So it would appear that Daniel had been in prayer all day, every day for 21 days, before he got a message from God. I’m not saying that I expect Gabriel to appear to me, or that it might take 21 days for God to give me the words He needs me to hear. I just want to make sure that you and I understand that this isn’t a fix-it-quick kindof prayer, and that we must be patient and wait on the Lord’s timing.