What did Jehoshaphat do when confronted with circumstances that threatened to defeat him? “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him” (2 Chr. 20:3-4).
First, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord. He determined that he would fix his eyes not on what he could see but on what he could not see (see 2 Cor. 4:18).
He was certain that the Lord had an answer and a plan that was more than he could ask or imagine (see Eph. 3:20). He would not entertain the lie that presented itself to his earth-sight. He resolved to inquire of the Lord.
Second, Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. What was the purpose of this fast? What did Jehoshaphat expect the fast to accomplish? “‘For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You’” (2 Chr. 20:12).
Can you echo Jehoshaphat’s declaration as you look at the situation that confronts you? Are you saying: “I have no power to face this situation. I do not know what to do”? Then follow Jehoshaphat’s example: Take your eyes off the circumstances and fix them on the Ruler of heaven and earth.
How did Jehoshaphat do that? How did he create an atmosphere in which God could give him His vision and His plan for overcoming the enemy? How did he put all his spiritual senses on alert so that God could get through to him? He proclaimed a fast.
The Lord had an answer. He had a plan in place. When the people fastened their hearts on Him, opening themselves to Him through fasting, He was able to tell them exactly what actions to take. Their obedience to His living, present-tense voice released His power and provision (see 2 Chr. 20:1-30).
Eating Spiritual Food
There are a few things you can expect to experience on a fast. First, you can expect hunger. Your physical body needs food and is trained to expect it. You will probably experience both a physical and a psychological craving for food.
If you do, turn your hunger into prayer: “Father, as my body craves food, I crave Your presence. My food is to do Your will” (see John 4:34). Let your hunger be a positive feeling because it will turn your heart to Him. “I have treasured the words of [Your] mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12).
Hunger and cravings for food will give you the opportunity to present an offering to the Lord. Each time you deny your craving for the sake of your fast, you are placing a sacrifice on the altar. The offering is your obedience (see 1 Sam. 15:22).
You can also expect to experience an increasing desire for the things of God. Just as your body has come to expect food, so your spirit will come to expect spiritual nourishment. God will begin to create in you a spiritual craving that only He can satisfy.
A fast is more than abstaining from food. It is replacing physical food with spiritual food. If you are fasting a certain meal, make that mealtime a time of prayer and study of the Word. If you are fasting for a period of time, fill that time as much as possible with concentrated, focused listening prayer.
Let the Lord set your fast. Don’t impose upon yourself a fast to which the Lord has not called you. He is likely to call you into minifasts in the beginning and train you for longer fasts.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by fasting in the power of your own flesh. What God calls you to do, He also provides the power for you to accomplish. The fasts to which He calls you will be prime training ground for learning to submit your flesh to the Spirit.
I pray that the Father will usher you into a new dimension of power as He calls you to incorporate fasting into your life. I believe that you have been drawn to these words because God has already placed in you a hunger for the deep things of God, and He is about to show you Himself. You will not be disappointed, for His Word assures us that “He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Ps. 107:9).
Jennifer Kennedy Dean is an author, speaker, conference leader and executive director of the Praying Life Foundation.
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