Friday, March 20: fasting and prayer
“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
Calling all fellow christians: I feel compelled to call for a day of fasting and prayer! This Friday, March 20, 2020 is a day when we can put aside our personal desire for food, and instead, hunger for our Lord God!
We cannot live a day without the Lord’s hand in it. This global virus, earthquakes, droughts, tornados, and plagues of locust swarms, must stir us to humble ourselves and seek the Lord!! He alone can alter any of these crises, or use them for His glory.
“The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
God did relent, and spared all of Ninevah as a result of their humbling themselves and repenting.
So how can we get God’s attention? Well, in biblical days, the leaders would call for a time of fasting. The time spent eating food would be substituted with time spent in prayer and feeding in the Word of God. This act, a most sacred and sacrificial act on our part, will emphasize our hearts’ desire for communing with the Lord, will express our dependence on the Lord, and will hopefully soften his heart with this world-wide pandemic.
My hope is that you will be encouraged to spend this day by fasting along with many others. It will not be by our choice of not eating that something changes, but by the Lord Himself responding to our submitting to Him by giving up what we hunger for – food.
How do we do this time of fasting? For each person, it is an individual responsibility. Biblically, they only drank water. But to obstain from something, whether it be food or alcohol or electronics or sex, relinquishing something temporarily that we desire shows the Lord God that we want to put Him first. Whatever you feel called to do and are able to in a healthy way, then do it with all all your heart.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Jesus fasted when times and circumstances called for it. Now, we must remember that HE is the bread of life. So if you’re truly hungry, join me and countless others as our feasting becomes fasting in seeking God the Father for mercy, healing and hope of this calamitous tide turning.
Food for thought: Here are three common types of fasts:
- Partial fast – Daniel, for three weeks, abstained only from “delicacies,” meat and wine (Daniel 10:3).
- Supernatural fast – These are total fasts–no food (solid or liquid) and no water. Paul went on an absolute fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:9). Moses and Elijah engaged in a supernatural absolute fast of forty days (Deuteronomy 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8). Our bodies cannot go without water for more than three days.
- Complete fast – Water or juice fasting. Juice fasts will provide you with more energy than water-only fasts and still lead you into the humbling experience of denying your desire for solid food.
Fun facts: A list of biblical people who fasted: Daniel, Darius, David, Elijah, Esther, Ezra, Jesus, Moses, Paul, and many N.T. church elders.
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Bible and water