In the Bible, people fasted and prayed in different ways for very different reasons. One thing was the same. They all came in humbleness, to the Father, to receive a word from God related to their circumstance. When they were sincere in their hearts, God answered. Today, in 2022, we have world-wide circumstances to deal with personally and collectively. This is the reason Christians everywhere are considering fasting in the new year. We need answers.
One of my favorite fasting passages is in 2 Chronicles 20 when Jehoshaphat declares a fast after hearing that a huge army from Edom was coming for his people. He resolved to seek the Lord and then declared a fast for all of Judah. When the people came together from every town, they sought help from the Lord. After a time of fasting, Jehoshaphat made a plea to God on behalf of His people and claimed God’s promise to give Israel to Abraham’s descendants. He laid it all in the hands of God knowing that he could not possibly defeat the enemy coming for them. The Spirit of God moved in the crowd of fasting, praying people and through Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah, a word from the Lord was spoken. Jahaziel’s heart had been touched by God and he was given these words in verses 15-17 “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah, and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”
After this, Jehoshaphat thanked God with his face to the ground and so did all his people as they worshiped the Lord together. Then others from neighboring cities stood up and praised God. The next day they left to meet their enemy. Before leaving, he appointed people to sing and praise God in early thanksgiving. As this singing was taking place, God sent an unknown team of people to ambush their enemies. The war continued until they destroyed one another completely. When Jehoshaphat’s men of Judah got to the place where the battle was to take place, they saw their enemies completely defeated! They returned home and went immediately to the temple with instruments and praised God! When the surrounding kingdoms heard how the Lord had fought for the land of Judah the Bible says, “Vs. 30 – And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace for his God had given him rest on every side.” It’s an amazing account of what corporate fasting and prayer can do for a nation!
This is exactly what we need today, unyielded devotion to God to get some answers by giving up something that consumes us in order to become full of God as we meditate on His word and listen to Him speak to us or or through a Jahaziel about direction, circumstances, or steps to take.
When choosing a fast, remember that fasting is not giving up something that doesn’t matter or something that is easy because it is the dependence on God that puts you in the humble position to receive from Him. In Old Testament times, food was not in abundance. To give up your portion for a meal or for a certain time was a sacrifice to people. So, in order to feel a fast, it’s important to choose wisely.
As a reminder, no where in the Bible did God say to harm yourself during a fast. So, if you suffer from a medical condition that requires a special diet, your recommended food list is not something to fast. Be wise and consult your Dr., if necessary. On the other hand, there are many medical benefits to fasting, depending on what you decide to fast from. A fast from everything except water, vegetables and fruit for a short period of time brings detoxification to the body and normally you will experience some side effects at first such as headaches and light headedness, but then physically you will have an energy increase, many aches and pains will disappear, and your mind will gain clarity and focus. In my field of study, intermittent fasting is huge and reaps much reward for those who participate.
There are a lot of great resources for fasting on the internet as you are trying to decide when and how you would like to conduct your personal or corporate fast. One I really like is the International House of Prayer’s Guide to Fasting. It includes: the benefits of fasting, physical preparation for your fast, medical information to consider, physical and spiritual helpful hints, breaking your fast, and a great list of other Biblical resources.
2022 will bring challenges, but with fasting and prayer there is nothing that God won’t do for people who love Him and seek His face. His divine will is waiting to be revealed to those who call upon Him and are humble in his presence.
Philippians 2: 5-11
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.