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…Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.” (NKJV)
The prayer life and the character of Daniel comes shining through in these verses. Daniel prayed and fasted three weeks in order to understand a vision given to him. Let us examine the lessons brought forth from this passage of Scripture.
I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth. Daniel was a man of prayer. Prayer to the Living God takes our burdens and places them upon the Burden Bearer, the true God of our hearts. When we transfer our burdens to God we are transferring the kingdom from ourselves to the kingdom of heaven. We saw that earlier when the first dream of Nebuchadnezzar occurred:
Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, about the matter, so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. (Daniel 2:17-19, NASB)
We also see Daniel’s prayer life in the story that leads to Daniel in the lion’s den:
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. (Daniel 6:10, NKJV, emphasis added)
In addition to prayer Daniel takes part in a fast. This is not a complete fast from food and drink, rather a fast of pleasant food, the food he enjoyed eating. It would be like me giving up pizza and fast-food for three weeks to draw closer to the Lord. Thus Daniel’s character was shaped by his prayer life and fasting transforming him into a man who was poor in spirit. Our lives too can be transformed when we practice prayer and fasting when directed by God.
Whenever you fast…But when you fast… (Matthew 6:16-17, HCSB)
Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it (a demon) out?” (Jesus replied) “However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:19 and 21, HCSB)
From the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard. We are told that the Lord heard his prayer from the very onset of the prayer and fasting. God did not answer the prayer because Daniel prayed and fasted, but because he was a man poor in spirit as the passage says he humbled himself. When a man is poor in spirit the communication lines remain open between him and the loving Father.
Schedule into your time the disciplines of fasting and prayer, directed by the Holy Spirit, and do some character transformation in your life. You will be glad that you have.