By Cricket Criscione-Kimbrell
We were encouraged to fast before going on a mission trip, which left our team with some questions:
What is a fast ? Why should we fast? Which fast should we do? How long is it good to fast?
Our ministry team had focused on these queries in preparation for our upcoming training and mission. First, what is a fast? A fast means to abstain from something such as a particular food, solid food, TV, music, etc.
And why should someone fast? The purpose of a fast is when you desire the food or area you are not indulging in, to turn your focus to God by reading the Bible and praying providing strength not from yourself, but God. This echoes the words of Job 23:12: “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” This strengthens your faith.
What kind of fast to do and for how long? We have been doing a 30-day fast, and it ends tomorrow. I chose the “Daniel fast” based on what Daniel ate in the first chapter of the biblical book bearing his name. Daniel challenged King Nebuchadnezzar’s royal foods and ate vegetables and water for 10 days saying if in the 10 days he didn’t look better than the ones eating the royal foods, then they could do with him as they saw fit.
Daniel stepped out in faith believing God had called him to eat such a diet and would protect him. God did just that and Daniel’s skin looked healthier than those eating the choice royal foods. Daniel 1:17 verifies that God rewards obedience by opening doors for young Daniel. Daniel continued with his diet and worshiping God while growing in favor with the Babylonians, and God was glorified! All because one guy decided not to eat certain foods.
On the Daniel Fast I have been eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains only – basically eliminating meats, dairy, sweets, fried foods, sugar, soda, etc. Eliminating cheese has been the hardest as it is a staple of my diet. I wanted to stretch myself by giving up something I truly enjoy–trust me, everyone who knows me knows what a challenge giving up cheese is. This also caused me to fully rely on the Lord for strength to be obedient to this time of fasting.
So what have I learned through this process? The Daniel fast has shown me several things: God always provides for us, and God does not want us to fail. He wants us to succeed in everything He has planned for us. He honors His word. In Jeremiah 29:11 He tell says, “For I know the plans I have for you, to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Also in 1 Corinthians 10:13, He tells us, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
During the fast, we went out to a new Thai restaurant that serves whole grain brown rice, only you have to give them a four-hour notice since not many people in my area request this. Not knowing this, we showed up for dinner and thought I wouldn’t be able to have rice with my meal-just the cooked vegetables. But God is so good and the table next to us had ordered the whole grain rice, and there was one order left–just for me. This showed me God truly desires and provides for me in the smallest of circumstances in everyday life to honor Him.
Several times during the fast, there have been luncheons, cookouts, free food, etc., and honestly, I have been bummed not to be able to participate. However, every time God has surprised me with providing fruit or vegetables I didn’t expect to be there so I could participate. I shouldn’t be surprised but I have been. It shows me just how much I take God for granted and limit Him on the smallest of details. If God provides for me in something as trivial as a meal I know He will provide for me in the biggest of circumstances. God cares enough to handle all of our concerns.
Actually, the longer I go without foods I am used to, the less I want them. At first, I wanted them all the time and thought about how long 30 days was. I decided to just focus on it one day at a time and not think about how much was left. Really, in the grand scheme of things, what’s 30 days?
So, how does that relate to everyday life and God? What I experienced was the more I indulge in my selfish desires, the more I want them. But the longer I go without them the more I can grasp at how much of a want they are versus a need. Also, I find that the indulgences don’t always fulfill me in the way I had hoped for in the first place. The only thing that can truly fulfill me is an active relationship with the Lord. A lot of times I find myself in a passive relationship caught up in the busy nature of my schedule. It is not God’s responsibility to “catch up” to our busy pace, but our responsibility to be still, quiet, and listen to Him. A fast will make you do that.
The last thing God showed me during the fast was that in being obedient and not giving in to the delicious food available to me, I have been given many opportunities to share with people why I am on the Daniel fast and about our ministry project. When we are obedient, God will open doors for us to minister to those around us. We just have to see, be available, and embrace each opportunity.
Cricket ‘s real name is Heather, but her closest friends and family call her Cricket. She was born and raised in South Carolina and is the oldest of two girls. Her passions are missions, traveling, and experiencing new cultures. She left the mission field a few months ago because of a family emergency and recently got married. Read her blog here.