Todd and I completed a 40-Day Daniel Fast this weekend. If you are not familiar with a Daniel Fast, CLICK HERE. The spiritual discipline of fasting is something that, I admit,was not a part of my spiritual journey until the last four years. I had friends who did 40 days fasts from all food and frankly, that scared me. I go a few hours without food and I turn into a...well, not a very nice person.
The first time I fasted, I did a Daniel Fast. Water only and food must be from a seed or from the ground...basically, if God made it, I can eat it. Todd, being the gourmet chef that he is, loved the challenge of cooking all naturally and trying different foods. We had done two, 21-day fasts before at different times, but never 40 days.
Honestly, we weren't prepared as much as we should have been when we started, so we got off to a little bit of a rough start. We got into and the road of 40 days seemed impossible. We chose different times to break the fast for a meal because life happens, but we remained true to the intent of the fast. That was to break free from the bondage of "I got to have..." in our physical appetites and turn that energy and desire toward God and what He can provide.
The main purpose of a fast is to learn that you CAN resist temptation. By learning to control your appetite, it gives you the tools to do that in every area of your life and how to stay away from behaivors and poor decisions. You learn that you "CAN" help yourself and through prayer and relying on God, you can say no to things that you should.
One thing I love about doing a Daniel Fast is that you are encouraged not to fixate on the boundaries of the fast but the rather the purpose or person that you need to be focused on during the fast. It is wonderful detox for your body to just be eating such healthy, nourishing foods as well. There is weight loss although a Daniel Fast is not a low-calorie fast. It's about eating what God has made for us to eat - fruit, nuts, vegetables, rice...you get it.
As we ended our fast and "broke the rules," I discovered something this time that I did not before. Yes, my first cup of coffee in many weeks was something I looked for to and the first sip did taste good. Yes, the chips and cheese dip at La Parilla were great, too. But, I felt an absence. A sense of loss is some ways. I had grown used to not eating these things and praying through the smell of breadsticks at Olive Garden. Breaking the rules was fun for a moment and then, well, it was just...over.
Reflecting on that today, I was reminded of the faith chapter and this decription of Moses, "24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward." - Hebrews 11:24-26
It was not sin that I ate cheese dip. The fast was over. The truth that I got from breaking the rules was exactly what the verse meant. Eating the cheese dip was such a fleeting pleasure. There were so many times during the fast that I thought about how WONDERFUL it would be when it was over to eat the things I love so much again. Sadly, it really wasn't that great.
I learned so much during the fast about my faith in God and my weaknesses, oh yes, my ridiculous obsession with being satisfied instantaneously. But, now that it's over, I have to say I learned more in breaking the rules. I don't want my life to consist of fleeting pleasures. I want to resist those things and look toward the reward like Moses did. The best things God has for me in my life, not the fleeting ones.
I'll do a fast again. Don't know if it will be for 40 days...this was tough. But, I see the power and the transformational process that occurs in my life in every area when I practice this discipline.
Okay, now I want some cheese dip...