Scriptures are full of examples where prayer was strengthened by fasting. There are also many references to the strength in numbers often referred to as "corporate prayer." That is why Shiloh Church of Oakland is joining many Christians worldwide in a Daniel Fast that is in its first full week on Monday, January 12.
If you are late, there is nothing wrong with moving the days back or even just taking part for 18 days.
It is named for Daniel 10:3: "I ate no pleasant food. No meat or wine came...until three whole weeks be fulfilled." For those that can make the extra commitment, Shiloh's site has defined this as foregoing alcohol, sugar, caffeine, meat or bread during the remainder of January.
However, one can take part on many levels. Some choose to give up just some of those things or replace them entirely with other sacrifices like social networking, television or something else they enjoy.
A fast is not starvation and certainly not a diet. It should neither come with too much cost nor be easy to do. A person that needs social networking or media for their job should not give them up, nor should anyone give up foods without coming into it with eyes open.
Someone who eats sandwiches every day at lunch should not deplete family resources to eat out, but learn to pack other kinds of lunches—wraps instead of bread with hummus instead of meat. Hopefully, this shows more people how to make healthier choices.
Most importantly, fasting in Protestant churches is only done to strengthen prayer. It is meant to draw Christians closer to God by clearing something else that gets our devotion, and that does not happen without reading scripture. Shiloh has specific passages that are being read, and that kind of unity can be powerful.
Many will be praying for Oakland, but every bit of this world on every level needs prayer for something. Together Christianity can stand against the oppression, fear, violence, greed and other sins that plague all God's people, including those in the faith.