When Queen Esther and the Jews in captivity were in danger of being destroyed, they fasted and prayed. It was this threatened disaster that led them to such burdened, importunate prayer that they did neither eat nor drink for three days and three nights.
Days of trouble such as the world has never known are upon us too. It is a summons from God to call upon Him, an ever-present help in trouble (Jeremiah 29:11-13). It is His call to us to fast and pray, laying everything else aside, to seek the Lord till He comes and rains righteousness upon us (Hosea 10:12).
In all ages God’s people have found deliverance from their enemies when they sought the Lord’s mercies through fasting-prayer. The Saviour not only fasted, He taught His disciples to fast. The only restriction the Saviour put on fasting was that it be without hypocrisy.
When a Christian fasts, he is putting God first. When we fast and pray for revival and the worldwide outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it means we are determined now to give the whole heart and the whole man to prayer and waiting on God for revival. Thus fasting and praying wholeheartedly for home, loved ones, church or nation, means to put these needs before the needs of food and all other things that would divert from an intensity in prayer for the Spirit’s outpouring.
All through sacred history, when threatened and in peril, God’s people have sought Him so earnestly that they fasted and prayed. They ever triumphed. When Nineveh sought God’s mercies in repentant prayer, neither beast nor man did eat or drink for a time (Jonah 3:7). In the reign of Ahasuerus when the Jews were imperiled with extinction, for three days and three nights they neither ate nor drank. Thus mercy triumphed over judgment in that day and will also in ours if we will humble ourselves and seek the Lord with all our heart for Divine intervention.
Today Jew and Gentile are in times of fearful urgency. The world is being invaded by the forces of evil. These hell-driven forces must be challenged and repulsed by the forces of righteousness. We must now seek the Lord with all our heart till He comes and rains righteousness upon us!
We must want revival in our homes, churches and nation more than we want food, want sleep, more than we want business, relatives, friends. We have let things drift too far and now in the extreme urgency of the extreme need we must set aside duty and pleasure as doomed Nineveh did, while both ministers and members of the Body of Christ, with one heart and one mind, seek the Lord for the worldwide outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Oh, let all the heart within us go out to God in praying, “God, save our nation!”
“Turn Ye Even to Me…”
“Therefore…saith the Lord, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning…Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people…assemble the elders…Let the ministers of the Lord weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them…then…the Lord will answer and…remove far off…the Northern Army…and the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow” (Joel 2:12-32).
Before revival will come, God’s people everywhere, in this intense way, will have to definitely seek Him in fasting-prayer for the Spirit’s outpouring. Joel 2:1,12-17 shows this to be so. May each one of us now, without excusing ourselves, set our faces to seek the Lord, as did the people of Nineveh in their day of doom, until the very current of our times is changed by the impact of our united prayers and fastings.
Prayer for revival like this will, for the glory of Christ, receive answer and we will see the evil forces overthrown as the purified and empowered Church of God wields the sword of the Spirit and handles the dynamite of the gospel and thus accomplishes God’s purposes in grace and judgment for the end of this age. See Ephesians 5:26,27; Mark 16:15-20).
“Lament Like a Virgin Girded With Sackcloth”
As we now search our hearts for the removal of every sin in us hindering revival, we do well to fast as we turn to Him and confess our failures and faults and seek to make restitution. The radical and righteous kind of praying we must do now calls for rock-bottom repentance and deep, true sorrow for our sins of omission and commission.
Some mercies and blessings are never obtained from the Lord except “by prayer and fasting.” Revival is one of these things. Something is wrong with us when revival does not come and the way to find out what displeases Immanuel so that His power and presence is not manifest among us is–like Joshua and his elders–to go down on our faces before Him and stay there from morning until evening till by fasting-prayer, He reveals why the forces of evil are triumphant and we–His people–are defeated and powerless.
Genuine repentance often involves fasting and prayer. Let us not be guilty of confessing our sins and not repenting and forsaking them. Can it be our pretended turning to God is insincere with no real sorrow for sin, no effort at restitution, and no real change of heart? The ghastly wickedness of sin is hidden from us light-hearted moderns. The Lord is calling upon us in these critical days to take time apart to search our hearts and find out what it is in you–in me–that is holding back revival. If we spend enough time now in fasting-prayer and heart searching–the fallow ground of our hearts will be broken up and the Lord will come and rain righteousness upon us (Hosea 10:12).
“Rend Your Heart”
Fasting and prayer leads to victory over sin. Everywhere you go you find Christians who are constantly falling under the temptation of Satan. They cannot love one another. They cannot forgive one another. They have no love for souls, no zeal for the Lord. Is there victory for such defeated Christians? Blessed be God, there is! Christian Victory is gloriously found in times of fasting and prayer and waiting on God–laying aside every duty, every pleasure, and wholeheartedly seeking the Lord in repentant fasting-prayer till the full assurance of victory over sin and self is given.
“He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). It requires faith to pray. It requires more faith to fast and pray. To seek the Lord in fasting-prayer shows greater desire, greater determination and greater faith. Our prayers for revival without fasting are too often shallow and insincere. Fasting is potent proof to God that we are willing to pay the price in sincerity, in fervor, in single-heartedness in our prayers for His rulings and overrulings, in the affairs of this and every nation.
The all-important things for us to do now is to turn our hearts unreservedly to the business of obtaining from the Lord, without delay, the promised worldwide outpouring of the Spirit. If great deliverance came to God’s people in Esther’s day, by three days and three nights of fasting without food or water, will not deliverance come to us in the same way? With God is no respect of persons or places.
Our weapons are not carnal but mighty through God to the tearing down of strongholds. Prayer is our super-weapon. Nothing can long withstand the sustained, united impact of fasting-prayer. Whole-souled, surrendered, fervent, determined, fasting-prayer will open the way swiftly for God to rule and overrule in the power of a glorious Heaven-sent, Spirit-given, worldwide awakening. Nothing but this holy violence will serve to repulse Satan’s violence in the earth today.
God glories in revelations of Himself as He who keepeth mercy and covenant with His obedient people. If we in this predicted Age of Laodicean blindness will anoint our eyes with eyesalve so that in Joel we can see God’s commands and promises for this hour, when the Day of the Lord is at hand, and if we will ask of Him the full enabling of grace to fulfill our part of the Covenant of Rain in the time of the Latter Rain, and thus seek Him in a way that is acceptable to Him in fasting, in prayer, in weeping, in mourning, in confessing, repenting, forsaking our sins of omission and commission–this, Joel declares, will open Heaven’s floodgates and the torrential spiritual floods promised in the Former and Latter Rain to end this Age–will inundate the whole earth, while Christ takes out a people for His Name–all glorious within and without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. See Zechariah 10:1; Hosea 6:3; Hosea 10:12.