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Fasting Day 14: Fasting Affects a Nation

Fasting Affects a Nation

Fasting is a discipline that offers countless personal benefits.  For most of us, our motivations in fasting are personal.  But the promises of fasting can also impact your community and your nation.  In the Bible there are two cases where fasting literally changed a nation and changed history!

Nineveh Finds Mercy

According to the Bible, the city of Nineveh was in trouble. It was full of wickedness and headed for destruction. Jonah took God’s message of impending destruction to Nineveh and the people took God seriously. Their only hope was to cry out to God through prayer and fasting…and that’s what they did:

“So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them” (Jonah 3:4).

They repented and fasted before God as a nation. The king of Nineveh decreed:

“Let neither man nor beast,herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water…Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?” (Jonah 3:7,9).

God listened and relented.  Their repentance through fasting and prayer turned His judgment of their sin:

“Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said he would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).

God changed His mind because of Nineveh’s prayer and fasting. Their corporate fast released God’s mercy, turned away His judgment and preserved their nation.  The course of history was changed because of the prayer and fasting of Nineveh’s citizens.  Apart from repentance and fasting Nineveh would not have been saved.  The city was not judged for another 200 years after that time.

A Fast That Saved The Jews

The Jews were on the verge of annihilation because of the evil plot of Haman, one of the king’s advisers. Haman was “enraged” because a Jew named Mordecai “would not kneel down or pay him honor” (Esther 3:5).

“Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes” (Esther 3:6).

Haman succeeded in issuing a decree that called for the annihilation of the Jews:

“Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews–young and old, women and little children–on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.  A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as a law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day” (Esther 3:13-14).

Mordecai went to Queen Esther, his niece, for help. His request meant that she would have to risk her life. It was dangerous for her to approach the king unless she had been summoned.  So Esther called a fast:

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 3:16).

Those three days – a mere 72 hours – of fasting changed the history of the world! When Esther approached the king she received favor.  She obtained favor not only for herself, but for her people.  Instead of destruction and death they received but honor and promotion – because of three days of fasting and prayer.

What This Means for You and Me

You and I can help change the history of our own nation through fasting and prayer.  Yes, we are rapidly becoming a secular nation who is forsaking her God. But we don’t have to accept this as our fate!

I challenge you to make a habit of regular prayer and fasting for our nation. Here at the Concert of Prayer, we have made Thursdays our day to pray for the nation.  Throughout Pursuit 21, as we are fasting, Thursday is the day in which we unite in prayer and fasting for our cities, our state and our nation.

Beloved, the responsibility is yours and mine – not another Christian’s, not another church’s, not another generation’s responsibility. It is yours and mine. When Esther was concerned about the threat to her life in approaching the king, Mordecai exhorted her:

“Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

Who knows but that you and I have come to this nation, to this generation, to this hour for such a time as this.

Counting on Revival

Christians as a whole are counting on God to send revival…without fasting, repentance and prayer.  We presume that we are a nation of His favor and it will always remain that way.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

God is sovereign and holy. He cannot bless a nation that has turned away from Him.  America’s cup of iniquity and idolatry is overflowing – even within the Church.  We are guilty of committing the same two sins as Judah:

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water…return to me oh faithless ones and I will heal your faithlessness” (Jeremiah 2:13).

Repentance through fasting and prayer is necessary! We cannot expect God to hear our prayers if we aren’t going to honor God as God. He comes to us on His terms.

Contrast Nineveh’s response to that of Judah. God gave Judah warning after warning through prophets and they refused to repent. Nineveh received one warning and instantly they were moved to repentance, from the highest to the lowest among them.

Even as the people of Judah tore down their houses to be used against siege ramps in the fight against the Babylonians, God urged the people of Judah to turn to Him:

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

In spite of the desperate hour, Judah still did not turn to God in repentance with prayer and fasting. The price they paid was high! The Babylonians overtook them and carried them away captive. Seventy years later, Daniel turned to God in fasting and prayer on their behalf:

5We have sinned and done wrong.  We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your command and laws…13Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth” (Daniel 9:5, 13).

I urge you to make fasting and prayer for our nation a regular part of your lifestyle. Fast and pray for our leaders. Fast and pray for our religious freedoms. Fast and pray for those who have been blinded by the god of this age. Fast and pray and repent for the abortion in our land – the shedding of innocent blood pollutes the land (Numbers 35:23).

When natural disasters occur…when the economy is in trouble…when our security is threatened by hostile nations…when our sons and daughters are overseas fighting for our freedom…we should call a solemn assembly and fast and pray.  We have the life of Christ in us and the power of God released through our prayers – we can affect change!

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

Afterward

In the book of Joel, God promised an end-time outpouring of His Spirit. “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29).

That promise begins with the words “and afterward” – after what? After repenting in fasting and prayer. This latter day outpouring – and all the blessings mentioned in Joel, blessings of restoration and provision  – only come after fasting and prayer.

“Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of your God and cry out to the LORD” (Joel 1:14).

Will you join God’s people in crying out for His Spirit? Just like it was for Nineveh and for Esther’s people – our fasting and prayer could affect our nation and change the course of history!

When we enter the chosen fast, God promises,

“You will call and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Isaiah 58:9).

Question: How do you plan to make prayer and fasting for your city and your nation a habit?

 

FROM THE ARCHIVES


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One Response to “Fasting Day 14: Fasting Affects a Nation”

  1. Rachel says:

    This is a very naive nationalistic view of America. America jas been all anoit blood shed way nefore abortion was legal. America was and is a hostike nation, before middle eastern terrorism gained traction, America taught them how amd gave them weapons. And honestly, "religious freedom" happens inside amd no law for or against it is an excuse for not worshipping the One True God. Daniel is a perfect example of it. Also, we need to pray that America repents of flatout spiritual laziness, thinking that persecution is somehow not our cup, wanting the watered down version of a redeemed life where we get to enjoy patriotic luxury built on theft, lies and hatred, validated by our secured Christian status instead knowing the Father through the Son and needing/wanting nothing more or less than what He has for us, truly repentant of the gaping injustices this nation was founded on. Has America even repented of slavery? Ask any American group of Christians about repentance of oir treatment od the indigenous people and they make a lot of vague excuses as to why its not necessary. This is not nor has ot ever been a nation surrendered to His Holy will of love and compassion, justice and order. Anybodu can quote some verses. We're idiots if we only listen to what people say and ignore the glaring contrast of their behavior.

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