Kristen Feola grew up in a small church—and never intended to be a writer.
She was a fitness instructor, and had also done some work in her field of marketing. But one day she sustained an injury, and couldn’t be active. During that same time, her home church, James River Church, Ozark, Missouri, announced a church-wide Daniel Fast. Kristen started doing some research. She came up with some recipes that would work for the fast, and decided to blog about them.
On the first day of the fast, Kristen began journaling. She posted her thoughts and recipes as a blog resource for James River Church attendees who were participating in the fast, never expecting it to be more than a journal of the experience. “The Holy Spirit empowered me, giving me momentum, energy, and drive,” Kristen says of that time.
Because her blog was so well-received, Kristen considered turning the experiences into a book. She attended a writer’s conference and found an agent, who helped her find a publisher. The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast, published by Zondervan in 2010, has become a best seller.
Now Kristen hosts an annual Daniel Fast online every January. This coming year, 2018, will be her seventh year to host this community of believers—over 6,000 strong—who sign up and walk through the 21 days of fasting together. Kristen provides weekly e-mails with tips on preparing for the fast, starting three weeks before it actually begins. January 7 will be the start date for the upcoming fast. Those who are registered also receive daily videos, 1-2 minutes long.
Kristen has received tremendous response from hosting the January Daniel Fast, from all denominations, and all countries, such as 40 people in Saudi Arabia who participated in the fast in 2015. Missionaries love the videos as well. People who are blessed by participating in the Daniel Fast send testimonies that Kristen posts online to encourage others.
“Unless you add the spiritual component of the Daniel Fast—the spiritual focus of denying yourself foods you like, or are comfort, then this fast is just like any other ‘diet.’ Prayer has to be the focus of the fast; health is a sidelight. As you eat more healthy, you start feeling better,” Kristen adds.
When the twenty-one days are over, Kristen often finds that people want to continue the healthy lifestyle. “Many have said, ‘I have more energy, I feel better, I feel closer to the Lord, I’m in the Bible, studying, reading, praying. This is fulfilling in a way that other plans aren’t. The spiritual focus helps keep me on track,’” says Kristen.
For 2018, Kristen published a new e-book, called “Lift Up Your Voice,” which is fresh content for the devotional aspect of the fast. “Each day, subscribers read through a chapter that starts with a personal story, a Scripture, and a call to action,” Kristen explains. Readers are able to give through it in three weeks. In 2015 Kristen also released a second book, called Spiritually Strong: The ultimate 6-week guide to building your body and soul, to help those who want to follow up on the original Daniel Fast with more discipline in their lives in these areas: Bible study, prayer, fasting, healthy living, financial stewardship, and serving others.
Kristen is waiting for the Lord to lead her into the possibility of publishing another book, but in the meantime, she says, “I am grateful for this assignment and this ministry.”
You can find out more about the Daniel Fast at Kristen’s blog here.