Daniel 10:2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. 3 I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.
Yesterday I made reference to those who are ‘prayer warriors.’ A prayer warrior is someone who is committed to pray until the answer comes. Most prayer warriors pray because they are bearing some kind of a heavy burden. Daniel’s burden involved his fellow Jews who had returned to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the city. Reports indicated that the progress was slow and many of the Jews had given up. This affected Daniel so deeply that it caused him not only to weep, but also to fast and pray.
We all know what it means to pray, but what does it mean to fast and pray? Simply stated, spiritual fasting is abstaining from food while focusing on prayer. Some have said that fasting helps the believer to clear their mind of the things of this world so that they might focus more on God. In addition, we should say that by fasting we are demonstrating our desperate need of God’s help and guidance.
In the Bible we see that fasting sometimes involves a complete abstinence from all kinds of food. Matthew tells us that Jesus fasted for forty days before He began His earthly ministry. (see Matthew 4:2) From Daniel’s example we see that we can also fast in other ways. Daniel fasted by not eating meat or certain delicacies, nor drinking wine. In addition, he abstained from pampering his body with fragrant oil. Today some practice fasting by turning off the TV or avoiding the use of the internet for personal entertainment.
How long should we fast? Some fast for an entire day or even multiple days, while others fast by skipping certain meals. The type of fast and the length of our fast is not as important as our reason. Spiritual fasting is not for the purpose of losing weight, but for the purpose seeking God. It is for that reason that fasting is often associated with prayer. We read from the book of Acts –
Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Jesus taught us that the decision to fast is to be personal between us and God, and not something to be publicized before the church. We read from the Sermon on the Mount – “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)
One of the reasons Daniel became such a great prayer warrior is because he fasted while he prayed. Daniel wanted nothing more than a word from God. One wonders what might happen if more of us became like Daniel.