When it came to food choices for their family, Andy and Brooke Jagerson, like most Americans, often resorted to what was quick, easy, and convenient. But about a year ago, they decided their eating habits needed an overhaul. As followers of Jesus, they wanted every aspect of their lives to be pleasing to God, including what they ate. Brooke admits, “We knew that our diet, which consisted of large amounts of junk, wasn't working.”

One of their first steps toward healthier living was to participate in a Daniel Fast. They wanted their whole family to be involved, but their children were both under five years of age. Andy and Brooke knew it wouldn’t be realistic to expect them to follow the food guidelines.However, they still found ways to make their children a part of the fast. Brooke recalls: “While the kids (then ages 4 and 2) weren't participating by actually fasting, they joined in by praying together with us. We explained the concept of fasting to the boys and told them why we were doing it.”

Since that first Daniel Fast, the Jagersons are, in many ways, a completely different family. They eat more fruits and vegetables and have decreased their sugar intake. They avoid processed ingredients and eat out less frequently. Exercise has also become a priority in their lives. Andy and Brooke work out together, and Brooke walks with the kids to and from school each day instead of taking them in the car.

As a result of these lifestyle changes, Andy and Brooke have lost a combined total of 55 pounds. In addition, Andy, who suffered from foot and back discomfort for years, is now pain free. Spiritually, the Jagersons have grown closer to the Lord and to each other. Their marriage has been strengthened, and they’ve experienced victory over alcohol and food addiction. Andy and Brooke have experienced firsthand the benefits of seeking the Lord as a family. Brooke says, “We praise God for bringing fasting into our lives.” 

Fasting Defined

Fasting is a powerful discipline that allows you to have a deeper connection with God. When you fast, you deny yourself food, or certain foods, for a specified period of time as an act of surrender and worship. The principle of fasting is simple: When food intake is temporarily stopped, the body is provided a much-needed break from the constant demands of digestion, giving it a chance to heal and restore itself. What occurs during a fast is not starvation, but rather the body's burning of stored energy. Starvation occurs when the body no longer has any reserves and begins using essential tissues as an energy source. A therapeutic fast ends long before such a process occurs.

There basically four different types of fasts:

• absolute – no food or water.

• supernatural absolute – no food or water for a longer time than the absolute fast.

• liquid – water, fruit and vegetables juices, and/or broth.

• partial – eat certain groups of foods and restrict others.

The Daniel Fast
One type of partial fast that is gaining popularity among individuals and churches is the Daniel Fast. On this fast, commonly enjoyed foods are restricted for 21 days as you devote yourself to seeking the Lord.

The food guidelines for the Daniel Fast are based upon accounts of Daniel’s fasting experiences as recorded in the Bible. In Daniel 10, Daniel received a vision from the Lord that allowed him to see what would happen to the Israelites as result of their disobedience. Daniel was so grieved over what the Lord revealed to him that he entered into a state of mourning, or fasting. The Bible says that he ate no choice food and had no meat or wine for three weeks (10:2-3). Most commentaries agree that such desirable foods probably included bread and sweets. The English Standard Version of Daniel 10:3 says, “I ate no delicacies,” and another translation puts it this way: “I did not eat any tasty food (10:3 NASB).” Daniel ate simple foods, taking in only what was necessary for physical sustenance.