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The Daniel Fast simplified: Explanation of the two biblical references

Daniel Fast: 2 stages
Daniel Fast: 2 stages

Many Christians go on the Daniel Fast as an offering to God at the beginning of the year. They should remember that the Daniel Fast is for 21 consecutive days while fasting during Lent is 40 days, excluding weekends.

While the Daniel Fast is one of the easiest for people to do, it is confusing to some because they do not realize that there are actually two stages to the Daniel Fast. Some people merely do the first stage while others mix the two stages.

The book of Daniel records two references to the fast.

Daniel 1:8-14

"But Daniel resolved not to defiles himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days."

Daniel and his friends ate only vegetables and drank only water for ten consecutive days to show the king they could do the work without eating rich foods from the royal table and drinking his wine. At the end of the ten-day testing period, Daniel and his friends appeared healthier than their peers who ate the rich foods and drank wine.

Suggestions for us for this type of fast may include the following:

All fruits and vegetables
All legumes
Whole grains
Nuts and seeds
Herbs and spices

Daniel 10:3

"I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over."

Daniel fasted a second time. The duration of this fast was 21 days when he ate "no choice food, no meat or wine." The second fast is basically the same as the first fast, but the text specifically names those three things to avoid.

Things for us to avoid during this stage of the fast include:

All meats and animal products
All dairy products
All deep fried foods
All solid fats
All sweeteners (including honey)
All leavened bread
All artificial and processed foods

People have made their own adaptations to the Daniel Fast while keeping in mind that the purpose of the fast is to hear from God during this time. The purpose of this fast or any fast is not to lose weight; however, you will more than likely lose some weight. The beauty of the Daniel Fast is that if you continue it for 21 days, you might decide to continue with healthy eating habits long after the 21 days are over.

This writer's church, New Canaan Worship Center in Richmond, Virginia, is participating in the Daniel's Fast from Jan. 4 through Jan. 24, 2015. Please join us, if you like.

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