HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
To understand the length of time for the Daniel Fast we have to have a general understanding of the Book of Daniel.
Here’s a quick rundown:
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had seized Jerusalem and wanted to take some of Judah’s strongest, healthiest, and brightest young men back to Babylon as captives. Daniel and three others were chosen and were to be trained for three years in Babylon. After the three-year period, they would then would enter the Babylon royal service.
Daniel was determined to not “defile” himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. Instead, Daniel asked for permission to not eat these unacceptable foods. However, his request was denied because they were afraid Daniel and his friends would become pale and thin compared to the other young men their age.
Daniel then spoke with the attendant and asked to be “tested” for 10 days on a diet of vegetables/pulses (“pulses” = vegetables, fruits, seeds, and grains) and water. At the end of 10 days, they were to be compared to the other men who were eating the king’s food. The attendant agreed to the test, and at the end of 10 days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better nourished than the other young men. From then on Daniel and his friends only ate a diet of vegetables (pulses).
I know what you’re thinking, what about the 21-day fast?
So, fast forward to the 10th chapter of Daniel, where he says the following;
“At that time, I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips, and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.”
The context of this passage is when Daniel receives a vision from God and is so troubled by it he mourns and prays for understanding for three weeks. By “choice foods” we can assume this is most likely bread and sweets. Nonetheless, during this period, Daniel chose to restrict his food intake down to the basics; only vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and water. The purpose was to not indulge in tasty foods so he could focus on God.
However, a fast can be for any specific period of time. It can be as short as only a day or two, and for as long as you choose. Moses and Jesus even fasted for 40 days! I personally like to do the Daniel Fast twice a year; once during the New Year for the full 21 days, and again in June for one week. I find this is perfect for me to have a bi-annual renewal and spiritual reset.