Tag: fasting and prayer
Scripture reading for May 15th: Esther 3-4
As God’s people, we try to be the best citizens we can be. We should be known as people who obey the law, serve and pray for those in authority. We should promote respect for those in authority and aide their proper rule. However, when a civil authority gives orders to disobey the law of God, we must respectfully decline and obey God!
Haman was exalted by King Xerxes to a place of honor above all others. All officials in the king’s palace knelt down and paid honor to Haman. (Esther 3:2) But Mordecai, Queen Esther’s Jewish uncle, would not bow his knee before a man because of his faith in God and God’s word. (Esther 3:4) This infuriated Haman and he devised a plot to eliminate all Jews from Persia. He offered the king 375 tons of silver to allow him to eliminate these disrespectful people. (Esther 3:8-9) For those in authority to feel secure, any threat must be removed!
Mordecai immediately began to fast and pray. (Ester 4:1-3) He called on other Jews to join with him. He even asked his niece, Queen Esther, to help. This was not going to be easy. She would have to exercise some wise “civil disobedience” herself if she were to approach the king. She asked for prayer covering as she prepared for the potentially life-threatening task of asking the king for help. (Ester 4:15-17) Her attitude was one of faith and of willingness to die to protect her people!
Queen Esther is a type of the Church. The Church has been placed by God in places of influence to be a witness for God and His people. The Church is to be submissive to the authorities of the world in all things except where that compromises faithfulness to God. The Church is to be willing to die for what is right, rather than compromise the truth for the passing pleasures of sin for a season. The Church must speak up or loose its place of influence for God! Ask God what other lessons might be here for you today as you read this story of God working through ordinary people to accomplish His purposes!
Scripture reading for May 8th: Nehemiah 1-2
Sometimes prayer is used as an excuse for doing nothing. “I’ll pray about it” is an easy answer when asked to serve in a ministry or do a project. I have used it myself! But, as we pray, God moves on our heart and turns us to do His will! (Psalm 37:4) This leads to exciting open doors and God’s provision!
Nehemiah was an Israelite who was cup bearer to the king of Persia. He held a position of trust and was a close adviser and bodyguard for the king. He heard a report from those who had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. They told him how the work was at a standstill, the walls were broken down, and the gates were burned with fire. He began to weep, fast, and pray before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4-11) Nehemiah prayed and confessed the sins of his own people. He reminded God of His covenant with Moses to bring the people back if they would call on Him. He asked for favor to approach the king. (Psalm 5:11-12)
As he was doing his job before the king, God opened the king’s heart to ask him about his sad countenance. Nehemiah again prayed quietly and answered the king. He asked for help in rebuilding Jerusalem and it’s walls. God granted him favor and his prayers were answered. (Nehemiah 2:7-9) Prayer often activates faith that brings action. Note that Nehemiah continued to pray about everything and there are 10 recorded prayers in this short book!
Is there something that really moves your heart with pity? Is there a need that you see or an injustice that is calling to you for help? Why not begin praying and fasting and opening your heart to the Lord about that situation? As you do, be open for action to bring about change, healing, or a godly answer. The Lord wants to move our hearts through prayer to godly work. The result will be a joyous celebration when we realize what the Lord has accomplished as we prayed and worked! In the end, Nehemiah had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days!
Scripture reading for March 17th: Luke 2:36-52, Psalms 60:1-12, Proverbs 11:15
The Bible tells us that by the mouth of two witnesses shall every fact be established. Luke took the testimony of the devout Simeon as one witness in the temple as Jesus was dedicated. He also made note of a devout woman who was led to the temple to see the Christ.
“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38)
Women play a prominent part in Luke’s record of the story of Jesus Christ. God is no respecter of persons nor does he discriminate between men or women. God cares about all, and especially tender towards those who may be hurting, lonely, or rejected.
Anna was a widow for many years. There is no record of whether or not she had children in her seven years of marriage. From the record that we have here in Luke, it appears that she spent her lifetime following marriage in prayer and fasting. She was know as a prophetess who was faithful to the temple. She prayed there day and night in a place mainly known for the Levites and priests. Anna was of the tribe of Asher, not even a Levite woman! Anna was quick to recognize Jesus as the One who would redeem Jerusalem and told others prophetically about this Child! Luke gives record of her faithful testimony, adding to the story of Jesus Christ’s supernatural entrance into the realm of men.
The story of Anna should bring encouragement. God appreciates those who are faithful and cling to a relationship with Him. He reveals Himself and His will to these faithful believers. He gives them honor and allows them insight into His plans! “Let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” (Proverbs 3:3-4)
Greetings again this first day of a new week! Hopefully, you are spending it gathering with God’s people to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the first day of the week. He began a new day, called ‘today’, a day of salvation and good news for all mankind! He is alive and we have the hope of eternal life in Him alone! There is no other name given under heaven among men by which we must be saved! (Acts 4:12)
As I reflect back on this week’s readings, I am quickly brought back to the prophet Daniel. His life of dedication and prayer lived out in the country of Babylon in the midst of pagan culture is amazing! His world was radically changed with the captivity and move to a strange culture. He kept his spiritual bearings by praying three times a day. This habit got him into trouble later in his life. He was probably nearly 90 years old when this habit caused him to be thrown into the lion’s den during the reign of the Persian king Darius. His faithfulness to pray stopped the mouths of hungry lions. (Daniel 6:19-22) He got to share with this king about His God and brought Him honor! (Daniel 6:26-27)
Another time, Daniel was reading the Book of Jeremiah where he saw that the captivity would last 70 years and realized that it was almost over. He began to seek the Lord by fasting and prayer, confessing again the sins of the nation that took them into captivity. (Daniel 9:4-19) This beautiful prayer of repentance brought a swift answer from God by means of Gabriel, the Archangel! The amazing answer was the word concerning the “Seventy ‘seven’s” which tells the number of years until the Messiah would come. Prayer is an awesome privilege and God loves to share with His servants.
God’s House is to be a “house of prayer” for all nations! (Mark 11:17) We gather to worship and to pray for His kingdom and will to be done. There is power when God’s people gather together and agree together. Don’t miss out on gathering today and take time to pray! Read the Word of God and pray for it’s completion in you and your family! God hears and will answer! What a privilege we have!
Have a great week in Jesus! In His Love, Pastor John