By ELIZABETH COOPER
Friday 19 February 2021
Beginning the period of Lent and looking at the subject of fasting and praying, it is interesting to read in the Bible who fasted and for what reason.
In my study today I found that there are many scriptures to look at, many occurrences when not only individuals but the whole nation of Israel fasted. These fasts were not the weekly, monthly, or yearly ones that were part of their rituals but were specific in their timing and reason.
In 2 Chronicles 20 v 1-3 we read “after this, the Moabites and ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Johoshapat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat ‘ a vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar. Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people came together to seek help from the Lord: indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek Him”
Jehoshaphat was alarmed, yes, naturally. But his instinct was to turn and inquire of the Lord – to focus solely on God for a solution. Not a quick prayer before a meal or an hour after lunch, but a removal of the daily itinerary in order to focus on the need for Gods help. And not just for himself but proclaiming that the whole nation should fast and seek God.
Here we see a leader setting an example.
David was confronted with his sin in 2 Samuel 12 which led him to fasting and prayer. The end result when God had spoken led David to worship.
In Ezra 8 v 1-23 we see Ezra declaring his complete dependence on God through prayer and fasting. Trusting God for protection Ezra leads others in the practice of fasting and we read in verse 23 “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.”
Jesus also fasted and prayed in the wilderness, at a time when He was tired, alone and vulnerable. There we find Him focusing on God and His word for strength, reminding us that “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”.
I was looking at one of the names of God – Elohim – creator God. Thinking about this name and the many others yet to be discovered reminded me of this song: What a beautiful name.