Let's Go Back the Basics
What is fasting?
The first mentioning of fasting was in the old testament. Many different kinds of Biblical fasts took place according to how the Spirit of God led the people. In Biblical times, fasting would only involve the abstinence of certain or all foods and/or water in order to spend dedicated time to prayer and reading God's Word.
What were / are the motives behind fasting?
Fasting can be regarded as an act of desperation for a move of God. In the Bible, the people who were led to fast needed something from God such as: divine wisdom, guidance, repentance, salvation, or victory in battles. Fasting told God, "I need You" and "I can't do this without You."
Today one may fast for the same reasons as listed above. People want their family to turn to Christ so they sacrifice a material value in their life to spend time with God for salvation to happen. Many people simply fast to be closer to God. There's nothing wrong with that. Fasting certainly will bring you closer to the Father, through time in prayer and reading and studying His Word. The Holy Spirit alone can give you the power and desire to start and complete a fast. Your eyes always have to be on Jesus and not on your own efforts; otherwise, the fast would be in vain.
Fasting and praying go together. In order to see a great move of God in your life, you have to wrestle with God, and the best way to do so is by getting desperate. Praying dangerous, biblically based prayers and fasting to spend more time in His word.
Examples of Old Testament Fasts:
In Exodus 34:28, Moses fasted 40 days and nights without food or water. This resulted in hearing from God and writing the Ten Commandments.
In 1 Samuel 7:6, the Lord pressed upon Samuel to tell the to gather in after repenting to God and putting away their idols. There they were told to fast for that day for their repentance.
In Esther 4:16, Queen Esther asked that Mordecai would gather all the Jews and fast along with her and her three days without food or water. Esther was desperate to save the Jews (her people) from annihilation.
Examples of New Testament Fasts:
In Matthew 4, Luke 4, and Mark 1, Jesus fasts 40 days in the wilderness with no food, but He did drink water. Jesus did this to deny His flesh and be able to overcome the of Satan.
In Acts 10:30, Cornelius fasted four days for the salvation of his family. An angel of the Lord appeared and told him that God had heard his prayers.
In Acts 14:23, two of the disciples, Paul and Barnabas, prayed and fasted in order to gain wisdom from God on appointing elders to the churches.
Question: "What is a Daniel fast?"
Answer: The concept of a Daniel fast comes from Daniel 1:8-14, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.’
Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.”
The background of the Daniel fast is that Daniel and his three friends had been deported to Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians conquered Judah (2 Kings 24:13-14). Daniel and his three friends were put into the Babylonian court servant “training program.” Part of the program was learning Babylonian customs, beliefs, laws, and practices. The eating habits of the Babylonians were not in complete agreement with the Mosaic Law. As a result, Daniel asked if he and his three friends could be excused from eating the meat (which was likely sacrificed to Babylonian false gods and idols).