Daniel Lent Fast


Today, we begin our Lenten season with a passage from the book of Daniel, specifically Daniel 1:12-15. In this passage, we see Daniel and his companions making a request to their overseer, asking to be allowed to eat pulse (legumes) and drink water instead of the portion of the king’s meat.

They propose a ten-day test, during which they will consume pulse and water, and at the end of the period, their countenances will be compared to those of the children who ate the king’s meat. If they appear healthier, then they request to continue with their chosen diet.

Let’s take a closer look at the significance of this passage within the context of the Daniel fast. The Daniel fast is a dietary practice that is undertaken for two primary physical purposes: as a therapeutic measure during illness and as a preventive measure to safeguard against sickness and disease.

During Lent, many Christians choose to observe a variation of the Daniel fast by abstaining from certain types of food for a period of time. This practice is meant to deepen one’s spiritual connection with God and enhance self-discipline.

However, it’s important to note that the Daniel fast is not solely about physical health or weight loss. Instead, it emphasizes the spiritual aspect of self-control and reliance on God. By choosing to follow a simpler and more restricted diet, individuals are reminded of their dependence on God and their commitment to spiritual growth.

In the case of Daniel and his companions, their request to eat pulse and drink water was not only motivated by their desire to adhere to their dietary restrictions but also by their commitment to their faith. They wanted to remain faithful to their beliefs and demonstrate their trust in God’s provision.

At the end of the ten-day test, Daniel and his companions appeared fairer and fatter in flesh compared to those who had consumed the king’s meat. This outcome demonstrated that their chosen diet had not only sustained them but had also resulted in improved physical well-being.

So, as we embark on our journey through Lent, let us reflect on the example set by Daniel and his companions. Let us remember that the Daniel fast is not just about the physical aspects of our health but also about deepening our spiritual connection and relying on God’s provision.

7 Things to take home:

1. Daniel maintained a positive attitude and viewed his training in Babylon as an opportunity to learn and serve the Lord. Daniel could have been sad or bitter. The Babylonians deported him from his home and later laid siege to and destroyed Jerusalem. Daniel could have viewed the Babylonians as his enemies. Instead, he adopted the attitude of a learner and a servant, trusting that God had a good plan and would protect and guide him throughout his studies.

2. Daniel identified temptations and sins that could affect his relationship with God and his ability to learn and live well. Daniel recognized that what he put into his body was important. He saw that the royal food and wine that all the other students were taking could defile him and prevent him from living in right relationship with God and others. (see also Proverbs 23:1-3)

3. Daniel resolved and resisted (v. 8). Daniel set personal goals based on his faith and made firm commitments and decisions. He chose to avoid temptations and resisted peer pressure.

4. Daniel reached out to others and formed a small group of believers to encourage one another in faith, to hold each other accountable (v. 10), and to pray for one another (2:17). He developed strong friendships that lasted even after “3 years in college.”

5. Daniel asked for permission and sought favor from the local leaders (v. 8-9). Daniel didn’t isolate himself, but he built relationships with the Chief Official, the Guards, the Commander of the king’s guard, and eventually with King Nebuchadnezzer, King Belshazzar, King Darius, and King Cyrus. Daniel respected their authority, but he didn’t shy away from his faith. He knew that God was His ultimate Authority. In Chapter two, verse 14 we see that Daniel addressed his supervisors with “wisdom and tact.”

6. Daniel practiced spiritual disciplines in order to grow in his relationship with God. He fasted (v. 12), prayed, and studied the Scriptures (Chapter 6). These things were so important to Daniel that he persisted even amidst intense pressure and the threat of death.

7. Daniel learned and grew in his unique talents and gifts. Daniel was faithful to God throughout his time in “college.” He learned and grew in “all kinds” of ways (v. 17). By faithfully developing and using his gifs, God eventually used Daniel to advise and influence four different kings. Daniel also prophesized the future kingdoms of Mede, Persia, Greece, and Rome and predicted the coming of the Messiah!

During this season, let us seek to grow in our self-discipline, trust in God’s guidance, and cultivate a deeper relationship with Him. May the Daniel fast serve as a reminder of our commitment to spiritual growth and our reliance on God’s grace.