May 19 I Thursday
1 Chronicles 7-9
“When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘I shall seek Your face, LORD.’” —Psalm 27:8, NASB
What is the purpose of fasting? The focus of fasting is always centered around God, but the reasons why we do it may differ. As we observe characters in the Bible who fasted, we find that they each have a different motivation. For example, when Moses was on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God, Deuteronomy 9:9 reveals that “[he] stayed on the mountain for forty days and forty nights; [he] ate no bread and drank no water.” Moses’s fast was to seek God’s guidance for him and the Israelites.
In 2 Samuel 12, David fasted for his infant son, conceived through his adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. Because of David’s contempt for the Lord, he was told his son would die. Yet, “David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted....” Finally, the child died and David stopped fasting. An attendant asked, “While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” David answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again?” (2 Samuel 2:16-23). David fasted for God’s mercy and healing.
In Esther 4, the Jews were exiled to Persia and there was an imminent threat to them of genocide. Upon hearing this news, Queen Esther called for a fast among the community of Jews against the racial injustice and religious persecution, saying, “Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day....When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). God heard their prayers and delivered them. In Jonah 3, after being in the belly of a large fish for three days and three nights, Jonah went to Nineveh preaching God’s judgment over them and “the Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed…” (Jonah 3:5). The Ninevites’ fast was a fast of repentance, asking God for His mercy.
In the New Testament, the prophetess Anna in Luke 2 fasted for the coming Messiah who would bring hope and salvation to all humanity. Her fasting was of faith and hope. Jesus also fasted in preparation of His mission of redemption and restoration for the world; He was in the wilderness for forty days without food or water, and was tempted by the devil, but remained steadfast upon God. There are numerous examples of fasting throughout Scripture; whether practiced individually or in community, the ultimate purpose is always to seek God.
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for examples throughout Scripture of individuals and communities who fasted as they sought for Your guidance, mercy, healing, deliverance, repentance, hope and salvation. Praise You!