Looking back for answers (fasting revisited)

asking questions

It’s a fantastic promise. In context it was given to the Israelites but with faith, and taken that all the promises of God in Christ are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’, we lay siege to the astounding promise that God gave;

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chron 7:14)

Let’s be fair – this was a promise for Israel, a people who by covenant cut by God alone, belonged to God. It was promise to be remembered and recalled in the deepest time of despair. As the Chaldeans, the Babylonians and even the Romans advanced against Israel over the centuries, there was always something they could do about the predicament they found themselves in – no matter how hard, compelling, crushing, discouraging.

It was simple – humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face and repent.

God never makes it difficult for us to approach Him, and He constantly encourages it. The promise thrust deep into the heart of God’s people to call upon Him in the time of trouble because He will hear and deliver (Psalm 50:15) still managed to be neglected and forgotten. Jeremiah prophesying in tears and heartbreak cries out to God’s people, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jer 33:3)” knows it will fall on deaf ears and cold hearts.

When the LORD spoke to Solomon in the night and gave him that promise he meant it. (2 Chron 7:14) Behind the promise and perhaps clearer than we can imagine, is a subtle but dynamic challenge. “Humble themselves…” Don’t you think that it sounds a little bit like ‘fasting’? Certainly, if you have fasted for any duration you will agree, fasting never promotes self. It’s very focus is on God. And it is humbling, no one enjoys it – and you were never meant to.

Let me take you on a wild ride of words for a moment.  Three men stand out in scripture because of their fasting activities. Three men went after God by  fasting for 40 days, seeking God with courage, determination and faith. They also did what they did because it was what was needed. Moses encountered God, deeply, significantly. As he staggered down the mountain with the tablets of the law, face alight with the glory of God he then set about encouraging Joshua.

Elijah on his forty day fast headed for Horeb, the Mountain of God. God came to him, spoke with him, answered him. Then Elijah came away from the mountain and called Elisha – passing on the baton of ministry.

A few centuries later Jesus also headed for the wilderness and entered into that same encounter, waiting on God for 40 days without food. We know His story well, it is embedded in our hearts. As He came out of the wilderness Jesus gathered around him not one but 12 disciples, through whom he would begin to impact the world.

Have you got a fire raging in your heart? Do you want people to come to know Christ as you testify to them about Jesus so much that you have fasted about it? Are you aching for the gifts of the Spirit to be openly manifest in your church that you fast and pray about it? Is there an intimacy with God that you so long for that you have sought God with fasting and prayer?  If not, why not? Do you really want it?

Oops! I have been naughty.

Those words can sound so driven and legalistic. I know you want God – but I wanted to stir you to realise, just how much do you really want God to do these things? I know people who have fasted 2-3 days, some for three weeks and even 40 days. My friend even dug up his garden whilst on a 40 day fast!

Is God not calling you to fast and seek His face?

Just do it, and remember fasting is about not eating, not going without your hobby, tv or other distraction. Do that as well! Email me and let me know how you do!

Read #1 of this topic on fasting.