Why You Should Try The Bible-Based Daniel Fast

Recently, actor Chris Pratt gave the age-old Daniel Fast a popularity boost when he posted a now-expired Instagram story, saying, “Hi, Chris Pratt here. Day Three of the Daniel Fast, check it out. It’s 21 days of prayer and fasting.”

Our social media feeds are plastered with articles and videos about different diets and health regimens. We’ve heard all about the keto diet, intermittent fasting, and of course, our tried-and-true plant-based lifestyle, but what’s the Daniel Fast? Why does this diet include prayer as part of its protocol?

What is the Daniel Fast?

The Daniel Fast originated from a story in the book of Daniel which is part of the Old Testament. In the story, Daniel decides that he wouldn’t take part in the rich, indulgent foods that surround him in the royal court and instead asks to be served, “nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink” for ten days. Later, in chapter ten of the book of Daniel, he takes up the fast again, this time for three weeks. Both instances were inspired by Daniel’s desire to deepen his relationship with God in a trying time, and both led not only to better health, but increased knowledge and understanding as well.

It’s important to note here that no verse in the Bible instructs us to follow the fast that Daniel undertook. However, Daniel’s story acts as a powerful example of what can happen when you choose to eat simply and live prayerfully and mindfully.

Here’s a breakdown of the Daniel Fast:

  • 21 days
  • Exclude alcohol, caffeine, meat, dairy, sugar, fats, and processed foods
  • Include foods grown from seeds, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains
  • Drink lots of water
  • Oftentimes, people will dedicate their Daniel Fast to spending more time in prayer and Bible study

Broken down like that, the Daniel Fast seems to be a very healthy, low-fat, plant-based diet, which has been shown to do the following, and much more:

Don’t ignore the “prayer” part of the Daniel Fast

And yet, it’s easy to focus on the food element and completely disregard the spiritual factor. After all, even in this age of information and sensory overload, the simple topic of food still dominates. Cheerful recipe videos populate our social media feeds, meal subscription packages turn every one of us into proper home chefs, and new, modern restaurants pop up every day, turning food into art. It’s easy to turn even the Daniel Fast—a diet plan designed to bring your focus to God—into an obsessive hunt for the perfect non-GMO, organic lettuce and a race to eight glasses of water per day.

In this age of plenty—plenty of healthy food options, plenty of workout DVDs and fitness classes, and even plenty of TV shows and articles about all of the above—the Daniel Fast is a reminder that you need spiritual health, too. We believe spirituality and health go hand-in-hand. Many of us don’t like to eat healthy because our hearts are lacking a sense of purpose, and so the cycle to an unhealthy lifestyle begins.

If you’re planning on giving the Daniel Fast a try, don’t forget about the spirituality part. Because you’re eating clean, healthy food, your mind should be clear and ready to practice some mindfulness. If you’re not sure how to pray, or if you don’t have a relationship with God, here are a few ideas that can get you there:

  • At the end of each day, write down 2-3 things you’re thankful for.
  • Be intentional about helping people around you that you might have overlooked before.
  • Check out a short devotional that you can read in the morning to get your day started on a positive note.
  • Get yourself and a friend started on a Bible study. We love this self-guided one.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for low-fat, plant-based recipes and spiritual encouragement, please visit the links below:

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Sarah Yoo

Sarah Yoo is the associate director of Life & Health but wears a few dozen hats as other this-and-thats, as is the norm in non-profit work. Her favorite part about working at Life & Health is meeting the people that Life & Health content has helped. Ultimately, Sarah dreams of doing humanitarian work in a developing country with her family.

  1. I seriously doubt that 21 days of the Daniel fast will reverse type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and symptoms of depression and other mental disorders. Moreover I doubt that it will prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s and lower your risk for many other life-threatening conditions including BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1c.

    1. The article states that “it [Daniel fast] seems to be a very healthy, low-fat, plant-based diet.” In fact, a low fat, plant based diet has been shown in clinical, peer reviewed studies to do all of those things (reverse diabetes, reverse heart disease and in fact most metabolic diseases). As well, a study published in the peer reviewed journal “Archives of Neurology” showed that a low-fat, plant based diet actually lowered the levels of beta-amyloid, a substance thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s compared to people who ate meat and a high cholesterol diet. The point of the article is that the Daniel fast promotes a low-fat, plant based diet and all the benefits that come with eating such a diet. The spiritual elements also help.

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