What God delivered in my Daniel Fast

It’s funny re-reading this post from 2012 today as I would probably entitle it “When Things Don’t Go So Well During Your Fast”. There are plenty of reasons to feel agitated – some of which are physical, particularly at the beginning when your body is going through caffeine and sugar withdrawal. If you read my previous post about What You Can Eat on the Daniel Fast, you know I had to make some adjustments in order to hear from God and get out of my own deprivation mindset … that and the whopping headache that left me without focus or a clear thought in my head, except for COFFEE! But there are other things that come up even when you’ve handled the food part of the fast well. As God shows you things He perhaps wants to change in you or develop in your character, the view isn’t always pretty. And even though God’s intentions and desires are wholly for you, don’t forget there is an enemy that absolutely hates you fasting and trying to get closer to God. So be aware, be gentle with yourself, ask God what he is telling you through this, and cast out the enemy from your thoughts, your home, and tell him in bold terms to stop messing with you because you are His!

I began the Daniel Fast on January 8th for two reasons: to know what God wanted to accomplish through me, and to ask Him to spread His wide hand of healing through a family that has been on my heart.

At the end of last week, I was feeling antsy, disappointed, and unsettled.  I was not feeling the same deep personal connection with God during this fast as I did last year, I wasn’t really hearing anything from Him about what He wanted to accomplish through me, and I confess I had growing doubts that healing was happening or would happen for the family I was praying for during my fast.  I have to acknowledge that God had certainly done alot with personal relationships in my life the past few weeks, but that’s not what I was going for.  Did you ever just feel like saying to God “Nice, but that wasn’t the question!”?

Saturday morning I got so worked up about a voice mail message from Pat at Verizon Wireless.  I had submitted an online contact form 2 days earlier explaining that I had not received an electronic copy of my Verizon statement for the last two months, and asked that someone look into it and reinstate it.  Well Pat left a message saying that she was following up on the email contact form I submitted, however she could not assist me because I did not provide the account password in my email.  Seriously? If they wanted the password, they should have asked for it – even required it, on the submit form, right?

I was already annoyed, but Pat had left the 800 customer service telephone number as well as her direct line for me, so I decided to call her right back and get the issue taken care of.  I dialed her number and it immediately went to voice mail, and it didn’t even give the courtesy “I’m assisting another customer …” message – it sounded like she wasn’t even planning on answering at that number.  Well, I just flipped out.  Seriously, that triggered something in me, that just set me off in an uncontrollable rant.  And in my mind I heard a voice saying Don’t do it, but I couldn’t stop myself from leaving an angry voice mail message.  I tried to soften the blow of my wrath by starting, “I’m sure it’s not your fault” … but even that was lost in what followed, “if a password is needed to assist me, the contact submit form should have stated that, and by the way, I didn’t get the response within the 24 hrs.  promised, so I’m a little frustrated that I’ve waited two days, and I wasn’t expecting to get your voice mail when I called right back, I didn’t change anything on my account to stop the electronic bill from coming, so now I’m at the same place as I was before I contacted you online.”

I ended the call, steam coming out of my ears by then I’m sure, and an email notification popped up on my phone – guess who?  That’s right – Pat from Verizon sent me a confirming email that she had attempted to reach me but could not assist me with my account because I did not provide the password, so she suggested I resubmit the contact form.  I was livid, so angry at being dismissed without the issue being resolved – I had to calm down.  There is nothing worse than being all jacked up about something and knowing at the same time that you are being totally irrational.

How do I spell relief? FOOD! I went to the kitchen to stuff down the rage and self-comfort with something to eat, but big problem – I’m on the Daniel Fast so there is absolutely no chocolate in the house!  Like a prowling cat, I opened cabinets, the frig, scanned the countertops – nothing sweet, nothing naughty, only fruits, vegetables, boring whole grains & nuts, …. I was beside myself!  I mean you have to get the irony of this moment – I am fasting to hear from God about what He wants to accomplish through me.  I have pledged obedience, I have said “I will make disciples of all the nations, I will go to the ends of the earth for You” … and then “but please don’t make me deal with the incompetence of Verizon Wireless!”

I plopped in my green chair and wrote in my journal LORD, SHOW ME, WHY AM I SO UPSET?  With everything (food) stripped away, sitting alone with my anger before God, I BECAME that wounded 10 year old girl, the middle of 5 kids when my mom died, who lost any consistent connection with an adult in my life, and I felt small, overlooked, unseen, insignificant.  And then I BECAME the wounded 40-year old woman and wife who felt like my opinion didn’t count, like I didn’t matter, when my husband took a job in Boston against my will, and I isolated and became disconnected from friends because I was ashamed that I didn’t want to follow my husband to Boston.  God brought me then to just a month ago when I BECAME that 58-year old Community Group leader feeling unimportant, not valued, and abandoned by members who attended small group regularly last year but hadn’t made it a priority this year.

So with Pat from Verizon Wireless, I responded and did what I did with every other relationship over the years when people weren’t available to me as I wanted them to be – I got mad, and I decided “If you don’t need me, I will not need you either.  I will find someone else who will value me.” And I shut them out, made them wrong for letting me down, for making their attention inaccessible to me.

I don’t know what God wants to accomplish through me on a grand scale or in the days ahead, but I do know this for today:  God often wants to do something IN us before He will do something THROUGH us or even FOR us.

Maybe you’ve been fasting and feeling discouraged, too, if you haven’t heard from God.  Or maybe you feel like your prayers are not being answered, or even heard.  I can assure you, dear one, that with His tender heart and craving for you to draw close, He is listening, He is longing to heal you, to grow you into all He designed you to be.

Is there something God wants to do IN you before He can do something THROUGH you or FOR you?

We must remember that the enemy hates our prayers and fasting, and wants nothing more than to distract us from our growing relationship with God by planting doubt and lies where we are most vulnerable.  The chorus from Demi Lovato’s hit “Skyscraper” runs through my mind in response, and reminds me that our victory is in Christ – that is the truth for which there is no doubt.

You can take everything I have, you can break everything I am, like I’m made of glass, like I”m made of paper.  Go on and try to tear me down, I will be rising from the ground, like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper!

What can you eat on the Daniel Fast?

This is a repost from 2012, but the most asked question I get every year … I know what I can’t eat on the Daniel Fast, but what CAN I eat? So here you go ….

What is it about the human mind that always goes to that negative place,  to what we can’t have?  Whenever I tell someone about the Daniel Fast,  I always lead with the restriction “no meat, no dairy, no sweeteners, no processed foods, no solid fats, no beverages except water”.  Sure, I am quick to follow with what foods are included: all fruits and vegetables, all whole grains, all nuts & seeds, all legumes, all quality oils.  But the best most can conjure up from merging these two pieces – what’s in, what’s out –  is a picture of consuming large quantities of raw vegetables, bananas, apples & the staple of all restrictive eating plans – the salad.

The question I’m asked more than any other is:  So what CAN you eat on the fast?  Let me give you a few ideas,  and share some recipes that go a long way to get you through a fast week.

Staples that I keep in the house: olive oil, vegetable broth, variety of nuts, apples

Favorite snacks: Sage Valley Lite Organic Popcorn, peanuts, almonds, SPIKES Salsa & Scoops, celery with peanut butter or almond butter, peanut butter on warm (microwaved) whole wheat tortilla.  REMEMBER TO READ LABELS – you will be amazed that there is sugar in almost everything!

Favorite Meals

Breakfast – Quaker Oats Old Fashioned Oatmeal made with cinnamon, ground flax, dash of sea salt, & walnuts.  Sometimes I add chopped apple to the mix.

Lunch – I take a lunch to work where there is a microwave available, so one of my favs is Black Bean Chili (recipe below) with Scoops.  I love to make a pot of the chili over the weekend, so it’s available to pack for lunch or have for a quick dinner throughout the week.

Dinner – any kind of vegetable oven roasted with olive oil & sea salt is probably my #1 choice: eggplant, brussels sprouts, potatoes, asparagus, or a mix of potatoes, yams, mushrooms, carrots.

Other dinner ideas –

  • Barley & Mushroom Pilaf – recipe below
  • Stir fry of broccoli, cherry tomatoes, garlic & olive oil over whole grain shell pasta
  • Baked potato – white or sweet with mix of vegetables oven roasted with vegetable broth added over the top

Favorite Treat – baked apples with cinnamon and chopped pecans

Black Bean Chili Recipe

Using 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, saute the following ingredients together until softened:

  • Red onion, chopped
  • Garlic, minced
  • Red & green bell pepper
  • Whole kernel corn (bag of frozen corn)
  • Portabella mushrooms diced
  • Can of petite diced tomatoes
  • Chili powder
  • 1 tsp. chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

After sauteing the vegetables, move them to a large saucepan and add 1 can (150z size) of Goya black beans – blue label.

Add 1 or 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth or water, and salt & pepper to taste.  Simmer on low to medium heat for a minimum of 15-20 minutes – the longer you allow the chili to simmer over low heat, the more flavorful it will be.

Serve with tortilla chips, or over brown rice.

Barley & Mushroom Pilaf Recipe

Ingredients: 1/2 cup fresh sliced mushrooms, 2 tsp. olive oil, 1 cup pearl barley, 3 cups vegetable broth, 2 tbsp. chopped green onions (scallions), 1/4 tsp crushed dried rosemary, 1/4 cup pine nuts

Heat olive oil in a saucepan; add mushrooms and saute until limp. Add barley, vegetable broth, green onion, and rosemary.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Bon appetit!  Be blessed in your fast!

TOP 10 Ways to Prepare for the Daniel Fast

It’s that time of the year again when many churches embark on a corporate fast together – often the Daniel Fast. Whether you are doing it as a faith community or as a personal retreat, I thought it might encourage you for me to repost some posts on the Daniel Fast from 2012. Praying that you will be blessed and hear from God in big ways.

Whether you have committed to the Daniel Fast as part of a corporate fast with literally tens of thousands of men and women joining in the January movement, or you have decided to “give it a go” on your own, there are countless online resources available to help you understand the basis for this 21-day spiritual fast, and provide everything from study tools to recipes to equip you for a successful fast.  Preparation is essential!  Think about it … we’ve just come out of the season of Advent, having prepared for 4 weeks to receive again the birth of our Lord & Savior.  Doesn’t it make sense that we should prepare fully to receive the birth of something magnificent God wants to do in our lives through the fast?  May I share with you my TOP 10 list of important ways to prepare for the Daniel Fast?

  1. Decide on a purpose for your fast – actually,  I’d like to suggest that you come up with a dual purpose – a reason for fasting for yourself, and a purpose in fasting  for someone else.  Do you have a specific need, situation, or decision that you want to hear about from the Lord?  Are you seeking wisdom, discernment, revelation of God’s will in a particular area of your life? Are you, or someone close to you, struggling with a physical or emotional health issue that you desperately want God to heal?  What keeps you up at night?  What do you go to bed thinking about and wake up with still on your mind?  Take some time to boldly consider what you would most like God to to do in your life and in the life of someone else – that is your purpose for the fast.
  2. Examine your heart to see if there is anything standing in the way of God responding – do you believe that God can and will perform miraculous healing, that He speaks to us today, that He does answer prayer, blesses obedience … ?  If you have any doubts, meditate on Mark 9:24 and ask God to help you overcome your unbelief.  Is there a broken relationship you have not tended to, a grudge you are holding on to, are you living outside of God’s will in your daily life?  Matthew 5:34 says “leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”  Share your purpose in fasting for someone else with that person. Let the person know when you will begin, how long the fast will last, specifically how you will be asking God to intervene in their life.  Depending on your relationship with the person, you may want to check their level of belief that God will answer your fasting prayer for them.  This may be an opportunity to share your reasons for believing that our God can do what seems impossible and ask the person to trust you in this fast even if they are not up to trusting God yet in their life.
  3. Become familiar with Daniel Fast food guidelines, and “customize”- determine what foods you will include and exclude in your fasting eating plan.  There are many sources of information for The Daniel Fast Food List, but here are the basics: Foods to include in your diet during the Daniel Fast – all fruits, all vegetables, all whole grains, all nuts & seeds, all legumes, all quality oils.  Foods to avoid on the Daniel Fast – all meat & animal products, all dairy products, all sweeteners, all leavened bread, all refined and processed food products, all deep fried foods, all solid fats, all beverages except water.  Ask yourself which Daniel Fast food guidelines you can commit to and follow without legitimately compromising your health or your ability to work, serve, or relate to others in a God-honoring way. For example, I attempted to do my first Daniel Fast by adopting all of the standard food guidelines associated with the 21-day fast, including no caffeine.  I am a regular morning coffee drinker, having 2 full mugs of coffee during my “freestyle prayer” in my quiet time with God, and the absence of the caffeine burst washing over me brought on a whopping, debilitating headache by Day 2 of the fast.  I felt seriously handicapped, I could not focus on my purpose for the fast during my prayer time, I was muddle headed at work, indecisive about what to do when I got home, and was ready to “go off” on anybody at the smallest infraction or hint of incompetence.  It was clearly not working for me to eliminate caffeine no matter how badly I wanted to do the fast perfectly.  When I made the decision to reduce instead of eliminate, allowing myself one mug of coffee in the morning the first week, then cut that further to 3/4 of a mug week 2, and 1/2 a mug the final week, I experienced the restrictive discipline of fasting along with the freedom to notice and claim what God had for me in the fast.  Remember that the goal of fasting is not just to do without food – it is to draw closer to God, and while there should be some level of discomfort in the abstinence you choose, different fasting combinations work better for different people.

    4. Assemble a prayer team – 3 people to pray for one week each about your purpose, and 3 people to pray for one week each about your purpose for fasting for someone else. You’ll want to share your purpose for fasting and be very specific about what you are asking God to do, so be sure to select prayer warriors that will keep your fasting purpose for someone else in the strictest confidence. Ask those you’ve chosen to pray specifically for your fasting purpose on set dates for weeks 1, 2, & 3 so you are covered in prayer for the entire fast.
    5. Make a grocery list of Daniel Fast foods you will include in your eating plan. Research recipes from websites and blogs about the Daniel Fast, or do a google search of vegan recipes and eliminate any ingredients to be avoided in the fast. Add ingredients for any recipes to your grocery list. If you work during the day, be sure to plan for meals and snacks you can take to work, and put those items on your grocery list. Wait to shop until 1 or 2 days before your fast begins so fruits & vegetables are fresh.
    6. Cut down your food intake and start weaning yourself off of sweeteners, dairy products, meats, and other non-fast foods you usually consume a large quantity of in the 3 to 5 days before your fast start date. Use the foods in your refrigerator and cabinet that will be on lock-down once the fast begins. You may find that you don’t have a desire for these foods any longer after the fast ends.
    7. Decide on and gather your quiet time prayer and study tools. Plan what time and where you will meet with God daily. Purchase a journal or download a fasting prayer journal from one of the Daniel Fast blogs or websites. You will want to chronicle all that God reveals to you in this journey so find a way to capture it in print. You may have an amazing testimony to share when it comes time to break your fast.
    8. 1 Day before your fast begins, make a pot of vegetarian chili, vegetable soup, mushroom barley pilaf or other dish so something is available for a quick meal to get you started eating the right foods, or to have on hand when you can’t think of anything to eat and you’re hungry. I was surprised how often I craved roasted vegetables upon awakening (remember you can have olive oil so roast away!) and often had them for breakfast the last time I did the fast.
    9. Take inventory – a “BEFORE” picture of your physical and spiritual health. Spend some time in your journal crafting your “before” picture … physically – how much do you weigh? how much energy do you have? how do you feel? what physical limitations do you have? what health concerns do you have? what medications do you take regularly? does your physical health support all you want to do in life, what God is asking you to do? what about stress? do you feel convicted to get more sleep, drink less alcohol, stop smoking, eat healthier foods, get some exercise, or change other habits to honor the body God gave you? … spiritually – do you have a daily discipline of prayer and time in the Word? do you involve God in the decisions you make? do you call upon God throughout the day in even the smallest of matters? are you growing in your spiritual journey or stalled out at the same place as you were last year? how do you live out your faith in your family, at work, with friends? do you seek revelation of God’s will or move forward with your own agenda? are you connected with other believers? can you see evidence of God working in your life? are you pursuing a deeper relationship with God continually? are you serving God by serving others? do you take seriously and act on the charge to make disciples of all the nations?
    10. Pray for this period of preparation. Father, I want to draw closer to You. I want to know You and experience You. In a few days I will start on the Daniel Fast. I ask now that You open my heart. Prepare me. Show me the things You want me to see about myself. Teach me more about You and Your Word. Help me to see Your wisdom, Your grace, and Your purpose for my life. Amen. (From Susan Gregory’s “The Daniel Fast for the Body, Soul and Spirit”). Pray a Prayer of Dedication on your fast start date. Father, I am starting the Daniel Fast today and dedicate this time to You. Your word says that if I will draw near to You, that You will in turn draw near to me. Father, I want to experience You. I want to increase in my relationship with You. I want to learn more about how I can delight in You and submit to You more than ever. I want You to be Lord over all my life. I thank You for bringing me to this very moment, and I look forward to being with You each and every day during this consecrated fasting time. Amen. (Also from Susan Gregory’s “The Daniel Fast for the Body, Soul and Spirit”).

    I pray that each of you will hear from God in mighty and miraculous ways during your fast, and that this will be a time of unparallelled intimacy with Him. Be blessed and nourished by El Shaddai, All Sufficient! He is Emmanuel, God with us.