The Daniel Fast – What I Learned

daniel fast,encouragement,

My wife and I completed our Daniel Fast this past weekend.  I was honored when she said she would undertake the fast with me and I truly could not have done it without her love and support.  Having your spouse by our side as you make a major diet change for a period of time is a huge benefit in terms of moral support, encouragement and accountability.  Although we struggled some days with cravings and feelings of being limited in our food choices we also learned a great deal and generally felt more energetic and excited to be undertaking this particular spiritual journey.

“In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed.” (Daniel 10:2-3 NASB)  This is the verse that the Daniel Fast is based on.  It comes from a time in Daniel’s life when he was sincerely seeking to hear a word from the Lord and he decided to set himself apart by his dietary choices for three weeks.  Daniel chose only the most healthy and most natural food choices he could and today we understand his choices to be centered around fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seeds, herbs, spices and water for drinking.

I believe wholeheartedly in living and eating in a healthy, wholesome manner.  My wife and I try to stick to a low fat, low cholesterol diet on a daily basis.  In terms of using a lot of fresh, natural ingredients the Daniel fast was not that much different from our normal diet, with a few exceptions.

1. We love breads and crackers, and especially bagels with cream cheese.  Nothing leavened may be consumed on the Daniel fast and animal products like dairy and meat are also given up.

2. I’m a coffee lover and both of us frequently enjoy a cup of hot tea in the evenings.  Only water or natural fruit juices may be consumed on the Daniel fast.

3. Sugar.  Sweeteners.  Honey.  We both have a sweet tooth although we try to keep it reasonable.  This was probably the biggest challenge of the Daniel fast, especially in finding items at the grocery story that did not have some form of sweetener added to it.  It seems like sugar is in everything these days!

4. Additives and Preservatives.  It must be completely natural to be consumed on the Daniel fast and the very great majority of packaged foods that you find in the grocery story have at least 1 (and sometimes many more) additive or preservative.  Seriously, have you read the ingredient list on a taco or burrito shell recently?  It’s a little bit frightening.  Fortunately, Food for Life, the Ezekiel 4:9 company, came through for us there.

With all of that said, the benefits, both spiritual and physical, more than made up for what I gave up during our Daniel fast.  I can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve ever been as grateful and as thankful for food as I was during those three weeks.  Something about the process of pairing down our choices for sustenance to the bare essentials really made me think about and appreciate each ingredient and realize just how blessed we were.

God provides.  We say it all the time.  During the three weeks of the Daniel fast I felt it acutely.  I perceived anew that it was only through God’s provision and His blessing that we ever have food to eat and water to drink.  Man may recombine the basic ingredients and build on what God has already provided but he cannot create.  It is God who really does the providing and I am so very thankful.

The last thing I’ll say, and I found this really surprising, is that I really don’t need any added sugar to be satisfied.  Once I had been off of processed sugar for a few days I found myself naturally eating more sweet fruits like apples, bananas, grapes, raisins and watermelons.  “Ice Cream” made out of blended frozen banana and blueberries is very good.  Rice cakes with natural peanut butter and raisins sprinkled on top is delicious and I will keep right on eating them even now, when I could choose something with sugar.  For a guy with a sweet tooth I found out that the sweet things that God provides us naturally really don’t need any additional help to be delicious!

Have you ever fasted or considered fasting?  If so, I would like to hear about your experience!

Miscellaneous Monday

daniel fast,encouragement,Welcome to Miscellaneous Monday!  First of all, I am glad you are here.  Monday’s can be difficult for the best of us, but if we encourage and pray for each other, we will get through it.  Let us put encouragement into practice today, just as it says in God’s word.  “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”(1 Thessalonians 5:11 NKJV)

Be encouraged.  God is for you and is working for your good even when it doesn’t seem like it!

Speaking of encouragement, this week begins a 21 day Daniel fast for my wife and I.  We are going to need a lot of prayer and encouragement!  We both feel like the Holy Spirit is leading us to undertake this fast, and although we’re not sure why, we’re both praying that God will speak to us in a special way.  I am excited to hopefully get to know my Lord in a new and more intimate way.  If you’d like to know more about the Daniel fast then please check here.

In Other News

I apologize in advance but today’s post is going to cover several topics, hence the title.  I have a few miscellaneous items to cover today so please bear with me.

As you may have noticed, there is now a “Subscribe” box to the right of the post area.  I am working on a weekly newsletter and if you leave me your name and email address I would greatly appreciate it.  The newsletter will allow me to summarize the week’s posts in a short email for folks who have been too busy to visit the site.  It will be a great way to see what’s going on throughout the week in a quick and easy to read format.

Just above the “Subscribe” box is the “Find Me On” widget which allows you to connect to my Twitter, Google Plus or Facebook profiles.  I post updates on Facebook regarding the site almost daily and that can be a great way to see what’s coming up while allowing for more personal interaction.  I use Twitter primarily to note when I have made a new post so that’s a great way to be reminded if you are a fan of the service.  Finally, Google Plus is a fairly new service by Google that has some Facebook like features but is in some ways, even better.

All of those services allow me to connect and communicate with you through Matthew515 more effectively, so I would appreciate your help with that.

New Theme Coming

Matthew515 is a site that runs on WordPress and that means the look and most of the functions of the site are controlled by what is known as a “theme”.  The current theme has some strong points but is not very flexible in terms of layout or fonts so I am building a new version of Matthew515 on a new theme.  The color scheme and logo will remain but I am experimenting with just about everything else.  My goal is to increase readability by using better fonts while also improving the look and layout of the site.  I don’t have an ETA on when it will be ready but I will make an announcement here and on Facebook before I do the final upload.  As Matthew515 grows, the new, more sophisticated theme will be extremely beneficial so I hope it is well received.

Words to Live By

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV)  This is the way to get through Monday.  Make Philippians 4:8 your goal today and not only will it encourage you and help you through your day, it will also help you be an encouragement to someone else.

What verses and thoughts help you get through a difficult Monday or any other day?