The spiritual discipline of fasting receives relatively little attention in American churches today. Many Christians are unaware of the purpose or practice of fasting. We often read in Scripture about people who used fasting as part of their spiritual devotion in times of great challenges (see Ezra 8:21; Esther 4:16; Ps. 35:13). They saw a relationship between reliance on the power of God and a refusal to rely on the power of food and drink. Like Nehemiah, they understood that their success rested in the hand of the Lord alone (Neh. 1:11).
In our text today, King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah were facing a coalition far too strong for them to defeat. In response to this great challenge, the king called for a corporate fast across the entire nation (vv. 3–4). This fast was followed by a gathering to pray, calling upon the Lord to defend His people. Judah was crying out to God in distress and trusting in His faithfulness to hear and save them (vv. 5–12).
The Spirit of God responded to their prayers and fasting: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v. 15). Notice how the people responded to this glorious promise—they fell down in worship and erupted with praise. What a beautiful picture of the joy when God’s people rely on and trust in Him! And indeed, God provided them with a miraculous victory that was above and beyond anything they could have engineered on their own (vv. 22–25).
Overwhelming challenges grant us opportunities to look away from any prowess, cleverness, or preparedness that we might conjure within ourselves. We need to remember that Christ has given us the weapons of fasting, prayer, and praise to access His power.
In conclusion of our prayers for the Public Safety department, please include Marc Lazarescu, Michael Ashfield, Renan Malafaia, Stacey Craelius, and Steven Cascio in your time with God. Ask the Lord to give them strength to carry out their numerous duties.