A Daniel Dare for the New Year
With another new year comes another fresh challenge of fasting and prayer for 21 days—just like Daniel did.
HARD TO BEAT
Make no mistake. Every excuse you may have not to fast and pray, Daniel had same and more. He was super smart, highly intellectual and well-trained—from Alchemy to Zoology (Daniel 1). He aced the national test to serve the king.
He was super gifted with insight to interpret dreams, mysteries and hard puzzles that baffled the most sophisticated magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners of his time—in fact, he was once appointed chief of them all in King Nebuchadnezzar’s era (Daniel 5).
Daniel was super busy—he was one of three senior ministers overseeing 120 regional ministers of the Babylonian kingdom—he wasn’t slack. Indeed, Daniel so distinguished himself among the ministers and senior ministers by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the entire kingdom as prime minister (Daniel 6).
He was super principled and ethical—his diet, motives, honesty, disciplines, integrity, convictions… He was a man of noble character. He served several successive kings—he outlasted them—even as an immigrant in high political office.
Super young, super good-looking, super liked and all the above, he still found the need to fast for 21 days, seeking understanding of an issue that he wanted to unravel. 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. (Daniel 10:2-3)
If you are satisfied with being super by earthly standards, then by all means forget about the pain of fasting and the work of prayer. But if you want to see the supernatural intervening in your earthly matters, then welcome to the school of fasting and prayer.
DO THE MATH
Every new year is a mystery, like Daniel’s, waiting to be unravelled. To take 21 days seeking audience with the Author, Executor and Perfector of all the 365 days laden with prospects and dangers is only a 6% investment of your year but worth 100% of the effort.
Since 2007 a number of us have done this math and figured an exciting time of seeking the Lord in 21 Fasting Days of Prayer, Purpose and Planning at the start of each year is so worth it. See my blog last year for some of the most important reasons why I personally do this year after year for over 10 years now!
Please plan to join us as we seek the Lord in fasting and prayer from January 2nd to 22nd. We will plan to meet together daily for corporate prayer times in person or via video call (Zoom) from 5 pm to 6 pm local time (wherever you are in the world) and 5pm to 6pm ET in North America in particular. You will find the meeting link and schedule of daily prayer topics below.
CHOOSE YOUR FAST
In fasting, we commit to denying ourselves of food, drink or other comforts to more fully focus on prayer and fellowship with God. There are many types of fasts. There are complete fasts where you deny yourself all food or partial fasts where you forego certain types of food. Food is anything with calories 🙂 so does not include water (which has zero calories). It is actually a healthy practice to keep hydrated since the body is 60% water. A dry fast (no water) isn’t recommended beyond three days. Usually, when people set out to fast for an extended time—like the 21 days in the Daniel Fast—they will choose to do a partial fast.
The Daniel diet during this fast (like he did) is mainly vegetables and denying yourself meat, drinks and other choice foods. Basically, nothing fancy. Some still have three meals a day but nothing fancy (as described above) while others go the whole day denying themselves breakfast and lunch and eating only in the evenings.
Here are three suggestions of different partial fasts you could choose this January:
1) Full day fast Type 1: Fast from breakfast and lunch and eat a normal supper in the evening for the 21 days.
2) Full day fast Type 2: Fast from breakfast and lunch and eat a Daniel fast supper in the evening for the 21 days.
3) Fast Type 3: Eat three Daniel Fast meals each day for 21 days.
Please prayerfully consider joining us for this exciting 21 fasting days of Prayer, Purpose and Planning for 2018!
LAND THE DEAL
“Do not be afraid…Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days…Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” (Daniel 10:12-14)
It is the same dude, Daniel, who was unequivocal in stating, “…the people who do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32b). Now you know. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Schedule: January 2-22 daily topics here
Zoom Link: Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android
Or Telephone: US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833 (Meeting ID: 248 246 747)
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=BWpwOmbBqIO9McEisO8aYDJSSz5Wzav_
How to Start the New Year Right
A laser focus on God and goals through a concentrated time of fasting, reflection, purposeful planning and prayer at the start of every year has done wonders for my family, friends and I over the last 10 years. Why change a winning strategy?
WHAT GOT ME GOING
“Are we doing it again in 2017?” is the question (in an email) I woke up to on the dawn of the last day of 2016. “Of course, of course!” is the summary of my response to this dear Chinese-Canadian mentee of mine who has tasted the power of starting the new year right for some years now.
Meanwhile, earlier that week a Quebecois friend visited our home in Montreal to interview me on how I get to set my goals for every year. As I pondered her questions it had occurred to me that it may be a good idea to put some of these thoughts on paper for a wider audience and then that email on December 31 just got me going. So here goes!
NOT WITHOUT GOD
It is true that the end of a matter is even more important than the start but it helps a whole lot how you start also. As a doctor, I know that a child’s early nutrition can even determine their intellectual rigor and physical height (stunting) in latter years. So yes, how one starts matters a whole lot.
For me, starting the year with a God focus is not only the right way—it’s the only way to go. “In the beginning, God…” Those are the very opening words of Scripture in Genesis 1:1. How else would anyone want to start a new year but with the Originator of all things? Over the years I’ve come to call it “the Proto Principle”—in all your getting get God first. So yes, how does one start the year right? Not without God!
NOT WITHOUT GOALS
If you aim at nothing for 2017, guess what? You’ll hit it: nothing! “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” (1 Cor. 9:26, NIV) To run with purpose in every step and not just shadowboxing your way through life, you need to set goals.
The way I go about it is to have a framework that enables me to set goals holistically—in every area of life. Otherwise what happens is that only “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.” So I set:
- Spiritual goals—worship, fellowship, discipleship, service, evangelism/mission
- Physical goals—health, wealth, work, others
- Social goals—family, mentors, mates (friends), minnows (mentees)
- Mental goals—knowledge, skills, others
So yes, how does one start the year right? Not without goals!
PATH OF PRAYERFUL PRAXIS
Although this is an amazing framework that helps me not to miss any important area of life how do I determine what exact goal to set in that particular sphere? This is where the interview with my Quebecois friend got really interesting.
First there must be good praxis. Praxis is a big word that simply means deep reflection on your practice for action. According to Wikipedia, “Praxis may be described as a form of critical thinking and comprises the combination of reflection and action. Praxis can be viewed as a progression of cognitive and physical actions:
- Taking the action
- Considering the impacts of the action
- Analysing the results of the action by reflecting upon it
- Altering and revising conceptions and planning following reflection
- Implementing these plans in further actions.”
So I take a good look at how I’ve done life, say regarding my health in 2016. In pondering how I could do things better and my desired outcome regarding my health in 2017 I write down a health goal (diet, exercise, sleep).
And why do this prayerfully? First of all, life is too busy yet too short to go chasing every good goal; I want the God goals. King David had a goal to build a temple for God. Was it not a good spiritual and physical goal? But was it a God goal? No! God had other plans.
There are many good goals that come into my head during my praxis but in order to find the specific one that my Creator and Sustainer has for me this year I want to do my goal-setting prayerfully. It always amuses (yet even scares) me whenever I remember how God referred to the ‘good’ visions of some people in Jeremiah’s day as “delusions of their own minds.” Is this just a good goal or a God goal you are setting for 2017? I don’t want to be deluded!
So “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)
Secondly, setting a God goal is one thing; accomplishing it is another. “Unless the Lord builds a house, the builders labour in vain.” I prayerfully set these goals for God power (ranging from anything from divine opportunities through intellectual rigour to physical strength) to enable me accomplish them to His glory and my joy.
For example, the circumstances surrounding the accomplishment of my family’s goal to purchase our first two properties—one in Ghana and the other in Canada—were nothing short of miraculous. Regarding the former, the landlord had literally laughed and sworn he was never going to sell that property when we first made the unsolicited offer. Later he would come literally ‘chasing’ us to buy it. Regarding the latter, God had kept it for two years on the market for us. All those who had previously made offers did not get the financing. Until we came along with God power…
So why bring God into this ‘purely human thing’ of goal setting for the year? For God goals and God power!
WAY TO GO
Thus since January 2007, for some of the reasons above (and more), an annual concentrated time comprising a 21-day fast with purposeful prayer and planning (P3) every January has wrought wonders for my family, friends and I. Now, it’s not even an option.
Why do we fast? That will be the subject of another entirely different blog but let me just put it this way, using an vehicular metaphor. Most cars on our roads are two-wheel drives (either front or back axles) and do a great job of taking us from point A to point B. When stuck in mud or snow however, you probably have seen those same cars spinning their two front or back wheels frantitcally yet making no progress. Those cars that are four-wheel drives (4×4), however, are able to engage an auxiliary gear which then gets all four wheels turning and off and away they go! Prayer is powerful in and of itself (like a two-wheel drive); adding fasting is like engaging the auxiliary gear in a four-wheel drive.
You may join my family, friends, co-workers and I, especially from The HuD Group and ISMC, from 5 to 6pm ET EVERYDAY from January 2nd to 22nd to pray together on the phone line +1-647-848-3378 with access code 1234577788#. In various countries there are organized groups congregating to pray at the equivalent local time as well.
Here is the schedule. The recommended fast is a 6am to 6pm full-day fast from food (or anything with calories) but not water.
“So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8:23)
Yes, how does one start the year right? Not without God goals and God power!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!