We completed 40 days of prayer and fasting as a church on Easter Sunday. Todd and I decided to do the Daniel Fast for 21 days of that time. I had never done a structured fast like this before. I knew doing it together with Todd would help me with accountability, but I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to stick with it. Here's what I learned:
I never thought I had a food issue till I started fasting. I was shocked at how much I would think of eating or drinking something in response to a circumstance or as a diversion.
I've learned to view food as something I need and not as a hobby. I grew up in the Deep South. Food is a way of life. When you are eating lunch, you are talking about what you are having for dinner. It's just the way it is.
Our family ate more meals together and enjoyed grocery shopping like never before. Todd is an amazing cook. He loves to cook and experiment with recipes. I can cook, but it is not something that I enjoy like Todd does. It was fun to plan meals together and shop and really talk about what we were going to eat each week. My favorite thing was his sweet potato fries. The book has amazing recipes and Todd did some "tweaking" on his own!
I learned to replace my thoughts for food with prayer. When I would had those moments of really "wanting" something in the first week, I would turn my thoughts to God. After a week on the fast, my cravings for things not on the fast went away almost 90 percent. I began to not think about food in relation to my day and I had so much more "thought energy" to focus on God and my priorities.
It brought Todd and I closer to each other. We spent more time together and encouraged each other throughout the day. Doing this together gave us the opportunity to share what we were learning through it and prompted great converstation that I don't think would have happened without the fast.
We were able to teach our kids about fasting. We had the kids do the fast with us without some of the rigidness of no dairy. However, we did eliminate sweets and we cooked the same meal at night for them that we ate. It was a great learning experience for our family.
I'm going to make parts of it a lifestyle now. I made choices as best as I could on the fast in every environment. Not everything I had was "perfectly" in line with the fast, but I did the best I could. The Daniel Fast is not about legalism and following rules. It's about learning how to eat, making good choices, and focusing on God. I saw how I could live my life better, feel better, and have so much more of a focused lifestyle. I don't want to go back to my old way of eating and thinking about food. It changed my life and the way I think about food forever.
That's not to say I'm never going to have a cookie, candy, or dessert ever again. I just want to have the right perspective moving forward that I learned from this period of fasting.
This was a life-changing experience for me. I naturally lost some weight which was a nice bi-product, but it was never about weight loss for me. It was about surrender. It was about being willing to do something totally different in response to my desire to seek God. If you have never tried a fast, I would encourage you to do this one. Do it with a friend or a spouse. Be ready for your eyes to be opened to new things about yourself and new truths that God will be able to speak into your life. Spiritually, it was the best thing I have done to deepen my walk with God.