Sunday, May 6, 2012

Daniel Fast, Day 1: Off To A Good Start!

Daniel 1:12  “Please test your servants for ten days, 
and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.”

Daniel 10:3 KJV  “I ate no pleasant food, 
no meat or wine came into my mouth, 
nor did I anoint myself at all, 
till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”

Okay, so the last time I posted, I was setting out on a challenge for the sake of my health, spurred on by the love of a friend.  Wow, what a difference a year can make!  The close relationship I once enjoyed with said friend is gone, and I wish I could say the same for most of said challenges, but, alas! I still struggle.  The good news is that God is still good, and He's a much more faithful Friend than any of us deserve.  

So today I began that fast phenomenon that has swept the Church and is still going fairly strong, from all I can tell.  It's called the Daniel Fast.  From the combined resources made available by Susan Gregory, Kristin Feola, and Pastor Jentezen Franklin, the curious seeker will find that the concepts behind the Daniel Fast are based on passages taken from the first and tenth chapters of the Book of the Bible that bears that prophet's name.  

In Sum, the Daniel Fast is a spiritual fast, so it involves prayer, studying the Word of God as found in the Bible, dietary abstinence, and some specific spiritual purpose for observing the fast.  The abstinence part is what makes it so interesting, and doubtless so popular.  On this fast, one may eat and drink.  It is what one eats and drinks, however, that makes the fast distinctive and is the reason behind its name.  In the spirit of the aforementioned passages, one may eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and nut butters, seeds, legumes, whole grains, tofu and other soy products, salt, seasonings, herbs, and spices.  The only beverage is water: Spring water, distilled water, or other pure water.  To be avoided are all meats and animal products, fish and seafood, dairy, sweeteners of every kind, yeast and yeast-baked products, solid fats, refined and processed foods and food additives especially including artificial chemicals and colors and flavors and other such additives, white flour, white rice, fried foods, and all beverages other than water.  

When to eat and how much are not specified; but remember: It is a spiritual fast, and the pleasure derived from food is not the intended object! So the recommendation is to keep meals small and eat only what is specified, rather than trying to see what specifics can be worked around, or what palatable desires worked into the menu.  If you are trying, for instance, to justify drinking herbal tea by the fact that it is made with water and herbs are natural, then clearly that is the first item you need to eliminate. On the one hand, unmixed water is its own naked substance, whereas the addition of herbs, however natural they are, makes it a different beverage, and there is no Biblical record that Daniel or his companions had tea.  On the other hand, especially in the second instance cited in chapter 10, this was not about his pleasure but about his need to connect with God more than with his own physical needs or desires.  So if you are trying to work in your favorite beverage or food where it is specifically not allowed, then you have clearly missed the whole idea behind fasting and may as well say, "I'm adopting a diet based on the Daniel Fast," rather than "I'm observing the Daniel Fast."

So why am I doing it?  I did say that a year makes a lot of difference, didn't I :-)?  Well, in that year, I've grown spiritually, but that growth has not been without its challenges.  Perhaps the biggest has been to my determination to remain in right relationship with God in the face of my friend's equal determination to have me question the faith on which that Godly relationship stands.  The battles between us were frequent and frequently heated.  Ultimately my friend chose to "redraw the boundaries" of our relationship for that and other reasons.   At least, that's the human explanation of events.  My Lord God, as I was brought to understand, has His own mind about the matter.  

At any rate, the pages were turning in the Spirit as much as they were in the natural, and I find myself on the brink of a new season in my life.  Add to that the determination I made to dedicate this year to being better to myself and to pay more attention to my body.  And I began feeling the leading of the Lord some weeks back to begin this fast, and to do it at this particular time, when so many things are coming together to launch me into this new season, which is largely a season of Spiritual happenings for me.  So that's what I'm doing.

And I thought it would be instructive for me, and maybe interesting for you, to document this journey, so come along with me and we'll see what happens next.   And if you're so minded, I'd be ever so thankful for your prayers and encouragement.

So what did I eat today?  Breakfast and lunch were the same and quite simple:  A generous handful of raw almonds and a peeled and sliced yellow mango.  The water was bottled spring water, according to the label.  Another small handful of the same almonds preceded supper, which was white grits generously seasoned with Kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, and wa-a-a-ay too much garlic powder (that was a complete accident, albeit brought on by carelessness:  I didn't look at what I picked up before I started dumping it unceremoniously into the pot), and with the grits I had microwave-steamed whole string beans from the can.  The only ingredients were the string beans, salt, and water.  I rinsed them, put them into a covered microwaveable container with a made-up blend of Kosher salt, black pepper, and powders of onion and garlic. I drizzled on extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, tossed everything together in the container, and let the microwave do its thing on a "Sensor Reheat" setting.  Even with the overabundance of garlic powder in the grits, supper was quite tasty, I thought.

I'm just getting started, but I already have been a little irritable from lack of sugar.  It's okay, though; I don't have any resident heads to bite off, so no feelings were hurt in the living of this day.  I think, overall, that I'm off to a good start.

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