Read an Excerpt
THE daniel fast WORKBOOK
A 5-WEEK GUIDE FOR INDIVIDUALS, GROUPS, AND CHURCHES
By susan gregory
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Susan Gregory
All rights reserved.
Preparation and Purpose
READ IN The Daniel Fast:
Chapter 1 ("Who Is the Daniel Fast Blogger?")
Chapter 2 ("Dusting Off an Ancient Spiritual Discipline")
Frequently Asked Questions
Review food list, recipes, and meal plans
Why have you decided to participate in the Daniel Fast?
Have you ever fasted before? If so, what challenges and rewards did you experience? If not, what are some anticipations or concerns you have about embarking on the Daniel Fast?
Fasting is known as a "spiritual discipline." What does that phrase mean to you?
What questions do you have about the fast? (Don't try to answer them all now, but write down any questions and come back to them at the end of the session.)
CORE TRUTHS: DEFINING YOUR PURPOSE
The better you prepare for the Daniel Fast, the better your experience will be. During this week of planning and preparation before you begin the fast, you will accomplish the following practical steps:
Decide what you will and will not eat on your Daniel Fast.
Plan your meals for Week 1.
Shop for and prepare some of the make-ahead meals for Week 1 of the Daniel Fast.
While much of this week's preparation is focused on food, you'll find the key to a successful fast actually lies much deeper. Here is the most crucial thing you will do this week:
Ask God to speak to you about your purpose for the Daniel Fast, and invite Him to show you His purpose for your life.
When it comes to fasting, a well-established purpose or goal may be the most important thing to get you started on the right track and help you stay there. Your purpose is what will carry you through when your body (or mind) shouts, "Eat!" That's why it's important for your purpose to be personally meaningful. If your goal is not significant enough and compelling to you, it's easy to be tempted to quit or cheat when the going gets tough. But a targeted purpose can carry you through. Here's the simple truth: The more committed you are to your goal or purpose, the more successful you will be on your fast.
Take time during this session to ask God to show you a compelling purpose or goal for your Daniel Fast.
SETTING THE SCENE
Read Daniel 1:5-16 and 10:2-3 and reflect on the experiences of the prophet Daniel upon which we base our fast.
The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.
6 Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. 7 The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:
Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.
8 But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. 9 Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. 10 But he responded, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded."
11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 12 "Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water," Daniel said. 13 "At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king's food. Then make your decision in light of what you see." 14 The attendant agreed to Daniel's suggestion and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. 16 So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.
* * *
When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks. 3 All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.
1. What do these passages show us about obedience to God—and God's provision for us?
2. How did Daniel's relationship with God inform his decision to request a different diet than the one provided by the king? How does your own desire for a deeper relationship with God inspire you to pursue integrity, boldness, and faithfulness?
3. Daniel had a clear, specific purpose in fasting. What does this tell us about the importance of being intentional about our motives and goals as we fast?
4. What evidence do you see in these passages that God can use our time of fasting to speak and make Himself real to us? What can you do to prepare yourself to listen to what God may want to say to you during your fast?
POINT TO PONDER
"Even though you can eat during the Daniel Fast, it is no less effective than a complete fast. The power in fasting has less to do with food than with setting yourself apart for a specific period of time to focus more on the Lord, prayer, and worship. In other words, the power of fasting is found when you consecrate yourself to the Lord and discipline yourself to focus on Him. That's how your spiritual experience is enhanced." (The Daniel Fast, Chapter 2)
Read Psalm 139, Jeremiah 29:11, and James 1:2-5. As you begin to define your purpose for doing the Daniel Fast, what do these verses reveal about God's investment in your life?
Here are some suggestions you may find helpful in determining the purpose for your fast:
1. Ask God to show you what your purpose should be. After you have prayed, be attentive to how the Holy Spirit might answer you. For example, over the next few days, He may bring some issues or relationships to mind—or you may find yourself in a situation or a conversation that points you toward a compelling purpose for your fast. One thing is for certain: If you ask God for help, He will be faithful to guide you.
2. What are the top three issues in your life that cause you stress or concern? Ask yourself, If I could change three things about my life, what would they be?
3. What five things would you like to accomplish over the next twelve months?
4. What three new habits do you want to form?
5. What fears do you have that you want God to help you conquer?
6. What unforgiveness do you harbor in your heart that you need to deal with?
7. What areas are "out of order" in your life that you need to address?
Now consider your list and select one or two goals as your focus for prayer, study, and action during your Daniel Fast. This will be the purpose for your fast. What goal(s) have you selected?
Write your purpose on a card (or cards) and post it where you will see it regularly throughout the day. You may want to post a card on your bathroom mirror, so it's one of the first things you see each morning, or on your computer monitor, where you can see it as you work. Maybe post a card on the refrigerator or the pantry door. Keeping your purpose firmly in mind will help you stay on track with the Daniel Fast.
DISCOVERING AND DOING
When we're fasting, it's easy to focus on what we're not eating or what we don't have. The enemy of our souls, Satan, will do everything he can to disrupt and derail our fast. One of his favorite tactics is to combine temptation with subtle suggestions of compromise. Just as he tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden by asking, "Did God really say ...?" he may try to tempt you to start questioning the boundaries and principles of the Daniel Fast. That's why it's important to plan your fast and stick to the plan. It's also critical to have your purpose clearly defined and visible throughout the fast.
The more you can prepare in advance— either by planning simple, easy-to-prepare meals or cooking ahead and freezing meals—the easier the twenty-one days of the fast will be. Don't become so concerned with meal plans and recipes that they become the primary focus of your planning and preparation. Remember, the key to a successful fast is getting your mind off the food and onto God. By establishing your food list and planning your meals in advance, you can eliminate a lot of the day-to-day decisions you'll have to make during the fast. The more you have planned in advance, the more productive the days of the fast will be.
Too much emphasis on recipes and meal plans can make the whole process seem daunting, but don't forget that the Daniel Fast lasts for only three weeks. If you simplify your menu by focusing on easy-to-prepare fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the planning process shouldn't be difficult. And if you have identified and committed to your purpose, you will find yourself relying on God's will for you to get through the "valley" moments of fasting and enjoy the "peaks" of its many rewards.
1. What plans will you make this week for choosing and eating the right foods? (See The Daniel Fast for recipes and menus.)
2. What foods will you eat? Which ones will you avoid? Which recipes sound like ones you might want to try first?
3. What practical steps do you need to take this week (meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking ahead of time) to make sure you are well prepared to begin on day 1 of the fast?
4. One of the benefits of fasting is that it takes us out of our normal routines and creates an opportunity for us to reflect on our relationship with God and better connect with Him. But it won't just happen. We need to decide. How will you pray, meditate, and study during your fast?
5. Your plan should include establishing a specific time and place to have a one-on-one interaction with God, where interruptions and distractions are minimized. What is your time and place for Bible study and prayer?
6. It's not helpful to focus your attention on how you're feeling during a fast. But you will be feeling things (especially if you're new to fasting). Prepare for this by anticipating where you might be weak or vulnerable—and have a plan in place for how you're going to deal with it. For example, you may want to ask a friend to encourage you to "stay the course" if you are tempted to quit or cheat. Who might that person be? Will you reach out and ask him or her to be available to you over the course of your fast? In addition to being a "phone call away," your accountability partner should be someone who will pray for you as you fast.
7. What will you do during the twenty-one days of the fast to supplement your healthy eating with stretching and exercise? Write a specific plan.
8. What will you do during the twenty-one days of the fast to reduce your stress and get plenty of rest? Write a specific plan.
Father, as we prepare our bodies and minds for a time of focusing more deeply on You, we pray that You will clear the path for us. Help us to continually choose You as we make our daily decisions about what to eat and how to spend our time and energy. Equip us this week with the gift of preparation as we think ahead to the next twenty-one days and consider them a special and holy time set apart. And bless us with a strong sense of Your purpose—both for the goal that will carry us through the fast, and the abiding knowledge of Your will for our lives. Amen.
Starting today, begin tapering off your consumption of caffeine, sugar, and other foods not on the Daniel Fast. For example, you may want to progressively reduce the amount of coffee you drink each day or switch to half-caff or decaf.
Each day, be sure to drink at least half a gallon (sixty-four ounces) of pure, filtered water.
Get plenty of rest and a moderate amount of exercise.
You may find it helpful to remove items from your pantry that you won't be using during the Daniel Fast and put them in a secure place out of the way. I call this "locking up our weaknesses." When trying to change or control the way we eat, the first line of defense is always availability. It's often easier to avoid temptation altogether than to rely on our ability to resist it. Also, planning your meals and knowing what you will eat plays a significant role in complying with the fast.
To receive free resources, including the Daniel Fast Food List and Guidelines, the Daniel Fast Weekly Meal Planning Worksheet, and other helpful tools, go to www.daniel-fast.com. Enter your name and e-mail address in the form provided, and I'll send you the information right away.
Excerpted from THE daniel fast WORKBOOK by susan gregory. Copyright © 2013 Susan Gregory. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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