Some of the best things come as a result of discipline. For example:
- Becoming debt-free requires choosing to live on less.
- Getting in shape means changing one’s diet and scheduling exercise.
- In starting a new business, one has to sacrifice long hours and assume some financial risk.
- Saving for retirement means modifying today’s desires for long-term security.
It’s the same in our relationship with God. Some of the simple disciplines we practice include worshipping together, prayer, and reading our Bible.
Other disciplines, however, push the envelope of sacrifice in our lives. Silence, for example, can be really difficult to practice in our loud world. When were you last still and silent so you could practice what God said in the Psalms to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Similarly, the discipline of solitude for many can seem like an impossibility.
Another spiritual discipline is fasting. A definition of fasting is a Christian’s voluntary denial of food for the sake of intense spiritual activity.
Fasting is a choice to humble oneself before God. It’s a self-imposed brokenness. Through fasting, we are communicating with God how much we revere and worship him. Fasting is an intensive opportunity to attune our hearts to hear God, to add extra emphasis to our prayers, and to deepen our worship individually and corporately.
On Sunday, January 14, The River Church is kicking off our annual Daniel Fast. The Daniel Fast is named after Daniel in the Bible. When he was taken into exile from Israel into Babylon, he didn’t want to defile himself spiritually by eating certain foods of the Babylonians. So he requested that he and his friends only be fed vegetables and water for 10 days. Then, if they were as strong as the other people from other countries who had been taken captive, they would be allowed to continue on that restricted diet.
“Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.” (Daniel 1:12)
A Daniel Fast isn’t doing without all food but instead eating foods that are pure and healthful for you. It’s a modified fast.
There is one other place in the book of Daniel where he fasted like this. In Daniel 10, he received a vision of a great war that was to come. It upset him so much that he did another partial fast this one for three weeks. He writes, “I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth…“. (Daniel 10:3) He ate, but only certain foods as a fast before God.
We’ve set up the Daniel Fast this year with three categories of participation, so you can choose what works best for you. The 5k (7 days), 10k (14 days) or marathon (21 days). Push and discipline yourself.
Perhaps a 7-day participation would be a HUGE win for you. Then start there! When you choose which category of participation you want, then at church put a “Daniel Fast 2018” sticker on the poster to represent your involvement.
The Daniel Fast is aligned with a vegan diet. You can take a packet we have at church or go online to https://hittheriver.com/events/daniel-fast-2018 and download the packet to your computer or smartphone.
Heidi and I choose to keep our meals pretty simple and repetitive. It gets boring to eat the same thing day after day, but we are never hungry. It’s a small sacrifice to make for a great reward!
I hope you’ll make the choice to discipline yourself this month through the Daniel Fast. My expectation is that God will accelerate your spiritual growth as a result of your fasting for Him!