Thursday, November 15, 2018

Prayer and fasting



Often, people talk about fasting because they want God to answer a request or give them some direction. This is only partly correct. Yes, prayer and fasting facilitates the ability to hear God clearly. But fasting is not a trigger for hearing God. When you need something, the solution is not to skip a meal and ask God to show up. That would make God our servant rather than our Lord.

Fasting does, however, begin to prepare your heart, which is a trigger for changed motives and behavior. When accompanied by prayer and Bible-reading, fasting prepares you for dramatic change. It clears your mind and heart to receive wisdom from God and hear His voice.

Notice the passage below (it's not one of the typical fasting passages):

Jeremiah 36:6-7
So you go to the house of the Lord on a day of fasting and read to the people from the scroll the words of the Lord that you wrote as I dictated. Read them to all the people of Judah who come in from their towns. Perhaps they will bring their petition before the Lord and will each turn from their wicked ways, for the anger and wrath pronounced against this people by the Lord are great.”

Perhaps.

Perhaps something will happen. Perhaps hearts will change. This is the reason to fast--for my heart and for other people's hearts.

The Jews were in rebellion against God. Their prayer, fasting, and listening to God's words provided an intentional act of repentance, after which God was willing to hear their requests and not punish them for their sin. 

If you keep reading, you'll find that the people responded to God's words and asked their leaders to take the Lord's warning to the king. They wanted to change. The king, incidentally, said "no" and searched for Jeremiah to imprison him. The king had not prayed and fasted. Although he heard God's words, he did not respond with humility and repentance, like his people did. He said "no." and God fulfilled His promise to punish the king with exile and death. But God promised the people they would be returned to their land one day.

Their prayer and fasting--their listening hearts--would redeem future generations.

Perhaps we can affect change for future generations as well, if only we would deny ourselves and listen to the Lord.