Many churches and small groups use the start of the new year as a platform to do a group fast. It can be a great time to refocus on your relationship with God but eliminating distractions.For some they chose to fast from television or social media and for others they do a Daniel fast. Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church developed took the Daniel fast and developed the Daniel Plan with a team of world-renowned doctors and wellness experts to help transform the mind, body and soul.
The Daniel Plan is a healthy lifestyle program founded on biblical principles and focused on The Essentials: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends. The program offers a comprehensive approach to achieving a healthy lifestyle where we get better together by restoring our health in each of these life areas. The best part is that each essential supports and influences the others, offering a practical step-by-step approach that anyone to follow.
The essentials of Faith and Friends are what we call the “secret sauce” that makes The Daniel Plan so effective. The program benefits are accelerated when done in a supportive community of friends because God designed us to thrive in relationships. With the support of God and your group, you have far more than willpower helping you to make positive changes so you can be consistent and sustain your new healthy lifestyle.
Warren reflects in his book why he was inspired to start the Daniel Plan.
“Wow! Everybody’s FAT! That shocking thought kept reverberating in my mind one bright spring day as I was baptizing 827 adults. I’ll admit it wasn’t a very spiritual thought for a pastor to have, especially while baptizing! But I was getting tired, since our church baptizes the way Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River — by lowering people under the water, then lifting them back up. That day, based on the average weight of Americans, I lifted more than 145,000 pounds! I had read plenty of articles about the growing epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in America, but that day I actually felt the weight of America’s health problem in a dramatic way. While my first thought was that everyone I baptized was over- weight, my second thought was more personal and pointed: But I’m fat too! I’m as out of shape as everyone else is! In that moment of clarity, I realized the terrible example I was giving with my own health. How could I expect my congregation to take better care of their bodies if I was such a poor model? I had ignored my own growing problem for thirty years.”
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Fast from distractions. Take a step back and ask God what is distracting you from being fully committed to following Him. It might be watching television, scrolling through social media instead of reading your Bible or just having so many activities and commitments that you can’t go to church or small group. Sometimes it can be helpful to do a time audit. Write down how you spend your time each day. Do this for an entire week. Reflect on how much time you are pursuing God and then look at areas where you might need to make some changes. It can be helpful to do this with a friend or small group and share your results. Then once you decide what you are going to fast from share it with each other so you can hold one another accountable.
Fast from food. Make sure if you have any health restrictions that you consult your doctor prior to doing a fast that involves food. There are several food fast plans including the Daniel plan, fasting from sweets and fasting from food altogether. Remember that the focus of the fast should be spending time with God instead of eating. If you are just skipping a meal and not spending time reading the Bible or praying you might need to adjust your fast or schedule.
Set your focus. It can be helpful to find a book or devotional that you want to read or listen to while you are doing your fast. You might be praying for something specific so your devotional might be centered on that. It can also be good to ask a small group leader or pastor if they have recommendations. As you go through your fast write down what God is teaching you.
For more information about the Daniel Plan, click here. http://www.danielplan.com