Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Daniel Fast

Courtesy of the Internet
 From the beginning of our relationship it was clear that Joel and I would remain most closely united if we were grafted to the Spirit through which our love was nourished. 

We decided this meant that we both needed to start by embracing spiritual disciplines together. Our first attempts at learning to become spiritually disciplined were experienced through a study of fasting. 

After reading scripture and pondering Jesus replying "When you fast..." to his Disciples, we started to venture into the taboo  and give it the respect it deserved. 
Starting January 1, 2010 we decided that we would both enter into a time of fasting together with the intention of becoming better spiritually prepared for our upcoming marriage. 

After lots of prayer, discernment and research we discovered The Daniel Fast.

Joel and me a few moments after we became engaged.
 We were fascinated by the Daniel Fast because it was created on behalf the Daniel we both knew well from scripture. Yes, you know, Daniel and the Lions Den. This is the same guy. Perhaps you will recall that when Israel was taken over by Babylon and while all of the nation was besieged, Daniel and 3 other men were taken to Babylon to learn the ways of those people. They were chosen because they were the best of the best. 

Daniel would not eat or drink the food of the palace. It was rich with meat and wine and he would not pray or live the way he was ordered to as he entered into the Babylonian assimilation program. He even bet that he and his friends would become stronger and in better shape if they were allowed to eat the way they were taught by the people of Israel.
The day we got our marriage license.

Daniel and his comrades only ate vegetables and drank water for ten days and sure enough, they were in better condition their their peers who lived under the King's orders and thus the King changed the diets of all his men to veggies and H20.

Joel and I began the Daniel Fast and stuck with it for the recommended 21 days. At first it was very difficult and the cravings were intense. By the end of the first week there was finally a calm from the desire to engorge ourselves with gluten and sugar. Once our bodies had been cleared of the addictive, processed goodies we were used to eating, the fast became a gift. 

We both took on a spiritual practice in the place of the foods we would limit from our diet. I decided to read "The Artist's Way" while I was fasting and enter into the discipline of "Morning Pages" which was creative, flow journaling meant to inspire new outlets for expression. 

The result of our period of fasting has forever changed our lives and our eating habits. Physically, we both lost weight but the amazing thing was that we were never hungry and we did not miss the sugar and gluten we were so accustom to eating. I didn't even miss cheese which was formally my favorite thing on the planet. Then my skin cleared up for the first time in my life. Mentally, we were more alert, more motivated, more excited to greet the day than ever before. We cared about what we were putting in our bodies and became more intentional about nutrients over cravings. It was amazing to ask myself "What do I need to eat?" rather than "What do I want to eat?" Spiritually, we both were so open to God's daily movements in our lives. We were tuned in to the whole body that we occupy and became fully aware that the practice of eating IS a spiritual practice. Since we fasted together we both were also drawn together spiritually. We experienced many mutual visions and answered prayers regarding our futures lives and call to our marriage.

People have a hard time understanding fasting and in a world with eating disorders and body image distortions. We have become really sensitive about how and when we put food into our bodies. Would you consider going back to the roots of this tradition and embrace a very old understanding that eating is a spiritual practice? Perhaps you would then decide for yourself that a fast might be a beneficial move for your spiritual growth. After all, the purpose of the fast is to fill you up with God... so make some room.