Beginning January 1, our church started the Daniel Fast as a congregation. I work on staff at our church, so I’ve had a while to think about and prepare for this. I’ve been pinning recipes, creating meal plans, researching, doing everything I could think to do. However, I was not prepared for how hard it actually is to fast! The Daniel Fast is based on Daniel’s fast from the Bible where he basically tells the king that he and his men will eat nothing but vegetables and water for 21 days to show that God would sustain them. And not only sustain them, but sustain them as well as the king and his men, who ate rich and pleasant food. Traditionally, fasts are used in order to grow closer to the Lord while we deny our flesh and try to live more in the Spirit.
The guidelines for this fast are pretty stringent- we cannot consume any animals products (Vegan), plus we can’t have any sweeteners, fried food, processed food, leavened bread (yeast, baking powder or soda), preservatives, etc. All grains must be whole grains (no white flour). We can also drink only water. This means no coffee. Let that sink in for a minute. NO COFFEE, PEOPLE. Have you read the title of my blog? We like coffee here.
Right now, we are about two weeks into this fast, and it’s been tough. Food-wise, the first few days were the worst. I had already weaned myself off of coffee by the week before because I had no desire to die of caffeine withdrawal while starving to death. In all fairness, I was actually pretty excited to start, not only for the spiritual aspect, but because this felt like a bit of a culinary challenge for me. I love cooking (and food), and I am glad that I do because, man alive, I have never spent more time in the kitchen out of pure necessity. The fact that we can’t have processed food or preservatives, plus the added bonus of no yeast and no sweeteners has removed almost every single convenience food from our diet. I’ve made everything from scratch imaginable: Indian Naan bread, hummus, whole wheat tortillas, Vegan “Alfredo” sauce, and the list continues. It is safe to say that I have never used my food processor so often as I have in the past ten days. Here’s some of what we’ve been eating (and recipe links…always assume that I leave out the ingredients I can’t have, like sugar):
One Pot Mexican Quinoa (this stuff is off the chain, seriously. I’d eat it even if I could eat meat)
Veggie LoMein using whole wheat pasta
Whole wheat tortillas. Y’all. Surprisingly simple and very good.
Bean burritos (using said tortillas) with “refried” beans inside and topped with a red sauce and cilantro (good, but needs queso SO badly)
Our new nightly snack- a bowl of fruit
Veggie Burgers- I just made these up (refried beans, pinto beans, black beans, corn, rice, oats, whole wheat flour, seasonings)
This is the face Brody made when he asked for a taste of my burger:
Vegan Alfredo with Roasted Asparagus (shockingly good considering the sauce is made from cashews):
Apple Pan Cake (uses dates and apples to sweeten, bananas instead of eggs)- it’s Daniel Fast-tastic.
This is my go-to Daniel Fast lunch of a baked potato, salad with balsamic and olive oil and some sliced avocado (inspired by my friend, Karie, who made this for me on our weekly lunch date):
Before you ask, yes, I have lost weight- between five and eight pounds, I think, but that’s not the point of this. It’s not a diet, it’s a fast. It’s hard to remember that sometimes during this process!
One preconceived notion that I had was that fasting was somehow going to make it easier to pray and devote time to God. Well. Let’s just squash that thought right now, shall we? There is ALWAYS something to take your time away from God. Always. You can count on it. Fasting has not changed that at all. It requires extreme diligence and intentionality to really take 21 days of a fast seriously. I haven’t done a stellar job, either. The first few days, I really did set aside more time to read, pray and sit alone with the Lord. Then, the hungrier I got, I kind of fell off the devotional wagon. I have tried to pray a lot during the day, regardless of what I am doing. The past few days, I’ve really kicked myself in the butt and tried to read some more devotional material and get into the Word more during the day. I just keep praying for revelation and a hunger for the Bible (to replace my physical hunger for some cheese!).
Our prayer focus during the fast is Knox. We’re praying for some other things, too, but our main focus is him. We are praying that God would remove the struggle of Autism from Knox’s life. We’re praying for clarity of mind, ease of speech and joyfulness of Spirit. We’re praying that Knox would desire to have friends, to communicate and to follow directions. A big part of the issues Knox has (the ones that are keeping him from being “mainstreamed” in school) stem from his incredible stubbornness and independent streak (I don’t want to hear it, I know EXACTLY where he gets that). When he wants to do well, he does. A huge part of this struggle is aligning his will with our will- and that is all about helping Knox succeed!
As parents, we want our children to grow up, have families and really be a light for the Lord in whatever they choose to do. A verse I pray for both of my boys often is Proverbs 3:4 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” In a nutshell, that is what I want for my children, so that’s what I am fervently praying for during these 21 days.
It has been amazing to see the notes, emails and comments pouring in over the past week-and-a-half about the change in Knox. You guys, I can’t explain to his teachers and therapists in any other way aside from “I’m praying really hard for him.” He’s been more attentive, more talkative, more compliant. I have no doubt that prayer works, but I have to say, it still blows my mind when I am literally watching it work before my eyes. I just pray that this great progress continues. It’s just really amazing to hear stories of God’s faithfulness and watch Him work.
I know that Knox may never be totally free of the struggle in this life, but it is a comfort to know that God has a plan for him- and it’s a really good one. While I continue to pray and hope that Knox is able to overcome the hard things that Autism brings to his life, I know that we’ll be okay, regardless. We love both of our boys unconditionally, and while sometimes I wish more than I can stand that I would be able to just converse with Knox and hear it, I know he loves us back in the same way.
So I’m looking forward to this last week of the Daniel Fast, and I have high expectations for what God is going to continue to do for Knox and our family. He is good, all the time.