The Mighty Angels of Daniel 10: Fasting
By Nathan Jones
The Christian’s Call to Patience
Vic Batista: I love Daniel 10:1b which says, “The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.”
Isn’t that the reality of Bible prophecy? The appointed time often drags slowly along. People get impatient and keep on asking, “When is this going to happen?” And, “When are all of these things going to be fulfilled? I have been hearing about these for a long time and I’m tired of waiting!” But, when it comes to God’s master plan being fulfilled, Christians must live by patience.
Nathan Jones: Indeed, we do! The reason Christians need to be patient is because God is patient. Peter tells us that the Lord is patient because He doesn’t want anybody to perish and go to Hell. God is waiting until all the elect, that is all those who will accept Jesus as Savior, to do so, and then the end will come. Sure, we have been waiting 2,500 years since Daniel was given this Seventy Weeks prophecy, which is an amazing amount of time for humanity to have to wait. To us mere mortals, waiting for these prophecies to be fulfilled seems to drag on forever, but for God who is eternal, the centuries are merely a blip on the map of history.
The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting
Vic Batista: Daniel 10:2-3 reads, “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
While God’s faithful patiently wait for His will to be fulfilled, we are to being preparing ourselves for God’s answer. Verse 3 explains one of the preparations Daniel made. Daniel didn’t eat any pleasant food, nor meat, or wine came into his mouth, meaning Daniel fasted. Nor did Daniel anoint himself until three whole weeks were fulfilled. Daniel abstained from skin rejuvenating oils, a necessity in the Babylonian desert climate. What we are seeing here is that not only was Daniel a man of prayer, but also a man dedicated to deprivations in order to focus better on God. Daniel was a man who prepared himself before the Lord.
Nathan Jones: Daniel 10:2b indicates, “The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he [Daniel] understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.” So, Daniel says he understood the Angel Gabriel’s message and vision concerning the Seventy Weeks prophecy, but did he really? It sounds like Daniel understood in part, but clearly he didn’t understand all of the message. In fact, we will read in Daniel 12 that Daniel responds to the angel basically by saying, “I just don’t understand.” And, the angel replied to Daniel that he really couldn’t understand. Events had yet to play out that would provide the necessary comprehensive understanding. At times, unfortunately, Christians just have to live with the knowledge that we will not fully understand God’s will until events play out.
Undaunted, Daniel would do what he had always done. He would break out his spiritual disciplines, especially fasting. The prophet would fast and pray until the Lord finally sent him a more detailed answer. Daniel was willing to wait for weeks. Daniel is a great example to Christians today. When we are imploring the Lord for direction in our lives or organization, we turn to the Bible for wisdom, the Holy Spirit for guidance, and we live out the personal spiritual disciplines such as fasting and praying.
Vic Batista: Personal spiritual disciplines are a skill that is very lacking in today’s Christianity. Often times God calls us to achieve a difficult task, but that’s because He wants to draw us deeper into a saving relationship with Him.
Nathan Jones: God always wants us to grow deeper in Him. A great modern example of the personal spiritual disciplines Daniel practiced is what your congregation is living out, Pastor Vic. Calvary Chapel Aventura is going through a number of transitions, and you are encouraging your congregation to fast and pray along with you in seeking God’s guidance.
Vic Batista: Absolutely! My church takes on the Daniel fast as a challenge, sometimes for a week, sometimes even for ten days. When times are tough, we’ll fast for 21 days. Fasting affords us a great opportunity to go before God and seek His face when we are going through a difficult time, or maybe just to thank Him for all the great deeds He is working through our church.
Nathan Jones: In seeking the Lord’s will for big transitions, how should Christians be fasting?
Vic Batista: Fasting can be practiced in various ways. According to the Bible, there are different types of fasts. In the Daniel 10 fast, Daniel was still eating fruits and vegetables and drinking water. He abstained from certain kinds of heavy foods such as meat, and likely other delicacies. My church fellowship basically follows Daniel’s example and eats fruits, vegetables, and wholesome grains. During that time, we ask the Lord to not just fill us when we’re without food, but to fill us with His Spirit, wisdom and direction. We use that time to learn where God wants us to go.
Nathan Jones: So, Daniel wasn’t starving himself to death. He was just cutting out the good stuff.
Vic Batista: Pretty much! In our day, Daniel would have given up on the In and Out Burgers. Certainly Daniel wasn’t starving himself, but he was depriving himself. Fasting involves some form of sacrificial deprivation, with the act used to honor the Lord.
Nathan Jones: Doctors have stated than people can survive 40 days without food and three days without water. In Daniel’s case here in chapter 10, when he fasted and prayed, he hadn’t stopped eating altogether.
Back in my seminary days, I had a professor named Dr. Don Whitney. He wrote a book on personal spiritual disciplines called Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. I would recommend that book to anybody who really wants to understand how to better grow in the Lord. He not only wrote the book, but as our class professor he made his students live out the different spiritual disciplines.
Think of engaging in personal spiritual disciplines this way. Imagine yourself as a decathlon trainee and you are preparing to run a grueling race. In training you put your body through the rigors in order to become the best. Likewise, personal spiritual disciplines such as Bible study, prayer and fasting condition the Christian to run the marathon of living the Christian life.
Vic Batista: We often have no compunction of working out physically. For Christians, though, we also need to discipline ourselves spiritually in order to strengthen the spiritual man. Jesus taught us to do that in Matthew 4. Jesus often prayed and fasted. He exercised via spiritual disciplines. If the Lord worked out spiritually, then I think I need to follow His example.
Nathan Jones: Sacrificing shows the Lord how dedicated we are to getting an answer. There are different types of fast, like you said. You abstain from your favorite foods. Dr. Whitney made us endure a three day fast where we couldn’t eat any food. We just drank water. That was one of the hardest thing I have ever done. I don’t know why, but I really craved apple butter, and I don’t even usually eat apple butter. Food was on my mind the whole time.
That was a hard three day fast, and yet, I learned a lot from it. I learned that sometimes we need to give up those comforts that seem important to our lives, which we take for granted, and which can get in the way of our relationship with God. Fasting takes us out of our comfort zone so that we can discern the will of God better.
Vic Batista: So, what does personal spiritual disciplines have to do with Bible prophecy? If you desire to understand prophecy, then like Daniel, sometimes we have to get serious in order to listen to God speaking. Christ has called us to be more like Him, and the Holy Spirit speaks to us best when we’re focused on Him.
Other Spiritual Disciplines
Nathan Jones: Besides fasting, what other spiritual disciplines can Christians practice?
Vic Batista: Focus also on prayer. When you are fasting and your body is craving certain foods, prayer redirects our thoughts by drawing us to our knees. Pray from your heart, “Lord, please show me the direction.” If you’re having trouble focus, then pray through a Psalm.
Spending time in the Word of God is also vital. When not eating, substitute that time by going before the Lord in prayer, reading your Bible, and just spending time with Him.
Nathan Jones: One of the other practices that Dr. Whitney taught us when it came to spiritual discipline is the need for Christian fellowship. Christians need to gather around one another for accountability, Bible study, and to worship together.
Being around other Christians has become a major concern for many churches in this digital age. A lot of people, worryingly enough, are only making friends online. I’ve encountered many Christians online who have totally cut themselves off from actual Christian fellowship. They are worried about the doctrinal soundness of the local churches, so they give up looking and just cut themselves off from Christian fellowship. I praise the Lord they are getting fed spiritually online, but they are getting only second best. The author of Hebrews says that believers in Christ need to be involved in Christian fellowship that involves one-on-one interpersonal relationships with other Christians so that we can best grow in our faith. Accountability helps us better to not fall into sin and temptation. If not a church, then find other like-minded Christians and form a home Bible study.
Vic Batista: My church concludes our fasting with a 24-hour prayer chain. Our members get together for a half an hour to pray. We actually pass a baton to the next person to call them into prayer. It’s a way to keep us together and moving along.
Nathan Jones: Another point Dr. Whitney made involves serving one another. Christians should serve each other and those in need. We serve each other to share Christ’s love.
Vic Batista: Serving has become a lost art. People often excuse themselves from church by saying they can do church at home. I’m glad they can listen to teachings online, but there is nothing better when you have a need than to have someone come and lay hands on you, and pray with you, and hug you, and serve each other.
Nathan Jones: The early Christians behaved in that manner. Like Daniel in the Old Testament, Jesus and Paul and the Early Church all participated in living out personal spiritual disciplines. I agree, the Church today for the most part just doesn’t want to live like that. We are undisciplined. We are too comfortable. We read our Bible occasionally, and we might pray once in a while, and we go to church when we feel like it, but that’s really not enough. If you were on a football team, and that was your training regiment, why you would be the lowest ranking team out there! But, if you want to be great in the Lord, then engage in the spiritual disciplines.
Vic Batista: The Prophet Daniel has left us this amazing passage that challenges me personally to engage better in the personal spiritual disciplines.
In the thirty-fifth segment of this series on the mighty angels of Daniel, we’ll attempt to identify the magnificent man who appeared to Daniel.