Fasting isn't one of the facets of Christian life that many people like to practice. But author and nutrition expert Kristen Feola is working to change that.
She recently finished a three-week Daniel Fast, and is preparing to launch a new one, along with her online followers. The "Choose to Live" fast starts March 18 and will lead up to Easter Sunday.
"Easter is a high time for Christians to fast and pray," she told The Christian Post. This fast is going to be centered around praying for the lost.
Fasting ties in well with the season of Lent, when many people give something up in preparation for Easter, she noted. During this season, it can help people go deeper in their faith, she added.
Feola told CP that many Christians are intimidated by fasting. In a recent blog post she talked about overcoming those fears and the benefits of the practice.
"Fasting is a unique opportunity to know God in a deeper way and to hear His voice more clearly. When you fast, you deny yourself food, or certain foods, for a specified period of time as an act of surrender and worship. Those who have participated in this spiritual discipline can testify to experiencing an increased sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, greater awareness of their dependence on the Lord, and a stronger compulsion to intercede for others."
The upcoming "Choose to Live" fast is based on Deuteronomy 30:19-20 which talks about choosing life. Feola got the idea for it when she was roller-blading, a time when she says she gets a lot of ideas for her ministry.
"God brought that verse to my mind and I said that is perfect. As Christians we have a choice every day to experience abundant life from Him or death if we try to choose our own way. This fast is going to challenge people [to] choose life," she said.
During the first Daniel Fast, Feola had over 2,145 people sign up to follow the 21-day fast with her. On the second day of the fast, her website logged 16,759 first-time visits and 65,864 page loads, a record high for her website.
The Daniel Fast, which is typically a 21-day fast, is based upon accounts of Daniel's fasting experiences as recorded in the Bible. After receiving a disturbing vision from God, Daniel 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.
"When I invited people via my website to begin 2012 with a Daniel Fast, I was completely blown away when more than 2,000 decided to join me," said Feola. "Providing participants with a theme proved to be extremely helpful. It gave people direction for the fast and served as a constant reminder of why they were seeking God.
She also provided daily encouragement for her online followers, and recipes they could follow while on the fast.
Foods that are allowed on the Daniel Fast are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and oils. Foods to be avoided include dairy, meat, sugar, all forms of sweeteners, yeast, refined and processed foods, deep-fried foods, and solid fats. Since the Daniel Fast includes solid food, it's much less intimidating than a liquid-only fast.