Monday, January 14, 2013

Fasting Like Daniel

Anyone that has spent time in a Christian church and attended Sunday school is familiar with the story of Daniel and the Lions Den.  It’s a fascinating story and the author of Hebrews indicates that “faith stopped the mouths of lions.”  Basically, Daniel was tossed into a pit with lions and was not eaten.  If you believe the Veggie Tale version they ordered pizza and had a slumber party.  Anyway, I digress.
Now the same people that grew up seeing Daniel on awesome, high-tech, flannel graphs and hearing about his buddies Shadrach, Meschack, and Abednego are finding other reasons to celebrate this ancient Hebrew book: a 21-day fast.
This fast is different than one that requires total elimination of food and drink.  From what I understand from Daniel 1, he ate only vegetables (also translated as food grown from seed) and drank only water.  During the fasting time he mentions that he ate no meat, drank no wine, and did not anoint himself.  Some translations state he used no lotions rather than didn’t anoint himself. This time of fasting was 21 days.  How many ladies would go 21 days without their Oil of Olay? Okay, I’ll leave that one alone.
I like the first chapter where he tests the King’s steward by having him serve them only vegetables and water. If they look worse they’ll eat the king’s unclean food.  If not, they’ll continue on their plant-based diet. 
What I don’t like about fasts such as this is the legalism that comes out in full force.  If one is fasting for a specific purpose (and believes in the power of fasting) why would they want to skirt the danger zone?  Another question I have is why anyone would want to return to eating a “non-Daniel” type diet?  It’s apparent from chapter 1 that a plant-based diet with water is ideal for our health and well-being. 
People that advocate the Daniel fast also make exceptions for pregnant women and "allow" them to eat fish or chicken to “get the protein needed”.  This odd, unfounded, and ridiculous claim seems to have permeated every area of society.  HELLO! Plants have protein.  If one is eating grains and beans they are filled with protein.  Anyway….
I like what the orignators of this fast (well I guess not the originators, that would’ve been Daniel) that this is still a spiritual discipline not a diet.  If you’re interested in the idea of fasting I recommended reading Isaiah 58. 
People, it is only 21 days.  Eat fruits, vegetables, and grains for 21 days and drink water.  It’s not complicated.  You can do it.  If you’re on prescription drugs you need to check with your medical practitioner prior to starting any type of radical change.
This is a great time to discipline your body and exlore your spirituality.  Listen for the voice of God during this time.  Pray and commune with the Holy One.  Bare your soul before the Lord of Glory.  Each day change will come and you will not be the same after 21 days.

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