Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Daniel Fast: Feed Your Soul, Strengthen Your Spirit, and Renew Your Body by Susan Gregory Book Review

I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers to facilitate this review. Affiliate links may be in this posting. Thanks for supporting my blog.

I know the importance of fasting, but it has always been difficult for me. In my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), Fast Sunday is a Sunday (usually the first Sunday of every month) set aside for fasting. This fast is typically an absolute fast (one without food and water) for two consecutive meals in a 24-hour period. When members of my church fast we give to the church a Fast Offering, money that would have been spent for the food that was not eaten (Isaiah 58:6-12).  This money is given to the church to be put aside for the poor and needy. I usually do not partake in the absolute fast, where no water or food is consumed, or normal fast, where you drink only water, often because my body can't handle it physically. I am underweight and petite. I have always been this way since I was born because of a heart defect (TAPVC) and heart operation to fix the defect when I was a year old. The Daniel Fast is a partial fast, where some foods are eaten while others are restricted, making it so much easier for me and so many others to participate.

The Daniel Fast: Feed Your Soul, Strengthen Your Spirit, and Renew Your Body by Susan Gregory is a book about fasting using the partial fast that is based upon the Old Testament prophet, Daniel, and standard Jewish fasting principals to become closer to God. The Daniel fast is a recommended 21 consecutive day plan (because of Daniel's 3 week fast in the Bible scripture, Daniel 10:2) that follows a vegan type diet with more restrictions and the only drink allowed is water.

Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Daniel 1:12, KJV  Pulse was food that came from seed, including legumes and fruit.

There are more suitable times to use the Daniel Fast than other fasts. The Daniel fast works well for both Lent and the Passover. There is also a corporate fast where some Christians start the New Year fasting for a 21 day period. In this case it is recommended to start the Daniel fast the Sunday after New Year's Day. It is appropriate to use this partial fast when you are fasting more than 3 days or when you have health or physical limitations that preclude you from doing the absolute or normal fasts.

Part one of the book introduces the author and the Daniel Fast. She talks about the different types of fasting, why we fast, and the biblical history behind fasting. She also talks about why Daniel fasted and how, providing a background for this spiritual discipline. She talks about the 5 steps for a successful Daniel Fast which are: Pray, Plan, Prepare, Participate, and Praise & Process. These steps are essential for any fasting regimen. I highly recommend them to help you gain a better understanding and have a more humbling experience while you fast.

Part two of the book consists of a food list, recipes, menus, and devotionals. The food list goes through and spells out what to eat and what not to eat while on the Daniel Fast. It also includes what to stock your pantry with. I have noticed that these food items that are recommended to consume are very close to the things I am moving towards stocking my kitchen with. I love vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and seeds anyway, so eating them comes naturally to me. The book also mentions quality oils and lists canola and grape seed oil on this list. I do not include these particular oils anymore in my kitchen. I have found in my studies that the healthiest oils to use are the ones that say unrefined cold pressed or expeller pressed. It also mentions soy foods to be on the foods to eat list. I would recommend only getting GMO free or organic soy products because most other soy contains genetically modified organisms. Even though some of the food recommendations are not perfect, they are a far cry from the normal American diet of prepackaged overly processed foods. In the foods to exclude list I think I would have the most trouble excluding dairy, molasses, sugar in the raw, and honey. I would also miss my Kombucha, 100% juice, and herbal teas since I am only to drink water for this fast. I see no reason why I couldn't flavor my water with a small amount of lemon and mint though even though it says "pure water".

The recipes in the book look fairly straight forward and some sound better than others. With this fast, I am reminded of Kurt Saxon's 3.3 cent breakfast which is basically, four ounces of untreated hard red winter wheat, sprouted for 48 hours, cooked overnight with boiling water and a little bit of salt in a thermos, and put in blender to make an easy, low cost breakfast. Add fruit like berries and/or bananas and it is the perfect healthy, delicious food. I love that The Daniel Fast book has menu plans for all 21 days with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. This makes it easier to focus on the Lord instead of what to make for food. The book also includes a blank meal planning worksheet template in case you want to create your own.

The devotionals for all 21 days have a themed title, scripture or scriptures to go with the theme, and a roughly two page pondering. These help us through our spiritual journey. Susan Gregory says in The Daniel Fast, "The definition of a biblical fast is to restrict food for a spiritual purpose." The sacrifice of fasting is so important. Susan Gregory says in The Daniel Fast, "The Daniel Fast is for the whole person: body, soul, and spirit." Fasting lets us purge the worldly substances from our bodies and cleanse ourselves. It improves our temporal well-being and gives us a greater compassion and desire to serve. It also lets us grow spiritually stronger and brings us closer to God.

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God. D&C 88:119, LDS scripture

I recommend this book to anyone wanting to get closer to God and eat healthier while doing it.


DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER:  Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers because I am a part of the Tyndale Blog Network for letting me know about this product and for sending me a free advance viewer copy of The Daniel Fast: Feed Your Soul, Strengthen Your Spirit, and Renew Your Body by Susan Gregory to read and review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

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