On January 1st, I kicked off an annual fast. This January makes my third time bringing in a new year with the Daniel Fast and, experience aside, I’ve been feeling really nervous about it. I ended 2017 on a pretty rough note and, no matter how hard I’ve tried to ignore it, my confidence is shot and my stamina is at an all time low. Even though I’ve completed the fast before, I can’t seem to forget all the times I wanted to quit in years past!
For a bit of context, the Daniel Fast is a pretty strict 21-day vegan (plus more) fast based on Daniel’s fasting during the three weeks of Passover. While the list of permissible foods seems incredibly short (learn more here), I commit to fasting each year as a means of 1) intentionally engaging in God’s word and 2) starting the year off on a healthier note.
I completed the fast for the first time in January 2016, two months after I was baptized. I’ll spare you the details, but I had a dramatically difficult time—I basically survived on pickles, crackers, and rice cakes could barely focus on anything other than my constant hunger. Last year, on the other hand, I fasted like a boss, wiping together a ton of tasty Pinterest recipes and making time for prayer and meditation.
This year (these past five days), however, has been way more difficult than I could have imagined. This time around a lack of fast-appropriate food items isn’t even the problem—it’s my mindset! Before the fast even began, I fell into a pattern of excuses for why I would fail. Most notably, “I’m traveling for work this year and eating healthy on the road is nearly impossible.” Needless to say, this week has already been a bit of a struggle: I’ve eaten pita bread on two occasions already!
Fasting can be really hard, which I knew all along. But what I figured would be a physical challenge has already proven to be more of a mental one for me. I know that taking time away from drinking and eating all the foods I say I want to stay away from but never do (DAIRY PRODUCTS!!!) is going to do my mind and body some real good. And if I want to keep it up like I say I do, I must fix my attitude and get excited about the 17 days I have left.
Fasting without a purpose is basically just dieting…which I don’t do! It’s time I focus more on my “why” and the way I align my actions to it. Otherwise, I’ll be looking back on this month wishing I’d gotten it together instead of celebrating what I was able to accomplish.
Now excuse me as I try to get my life…
Lord, as I struggle to find my focus and remember my purpose, please stand with me. Through every season of stress and uncertainty, You’ve proven yourself to be faithful, patient, and perhaps most importantly, available to me and I know this season is no different. Yet, while I am more experienced—in fasting and in living—than I have ever been, I find myself struggling this year.
God, help me find the strength I need to resist temptation, push away negative thoughts, and focus my gaze on You. This is not the first, nor will be the last, time that I’ve struggle to keep working toward my goals so help me use this time of fasting as evidence of my strength and determination. During this time of abstinence, I pray that I will bring renewed purpose to my life, my goals, and my first days of 2018. I know there is a lot in store for me this year and I cannot wait for You to reveal what all you have planned. Thank you in advance for walking me through this period of fasting and helping me overcome my self-doubts and shaky spirit.
I ask this prayer in Jesus’ name,