The Preparation of Fasting

March 17
Jonah 3

And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
Illustration by Gustave Doré

Illustration by Gustave Doré

In the beginning of the book of Jonah, God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh, and to call the people to repent from their evil ways. Because of Jonah’s fear of the city, he goes the opposite direction, which resulted in God getting Jonah’s attention. There were great consequences for Jonah’s actions, and Jonah eventually got back on track with the calling that God gave him. The preaching that Jonah delivered to the Ninevites resulted in their preparation through fasting. This time of fasting and preparation pleased God greatly, as the king of Nineveh commanded the people in Jonah 3:7–8, “Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call our mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.” The Ninevites feared God, and did not want to experience his wrath, so they submitted to Jonah’s warning, and believed in God.

This example in Jonah 3 shows us what truly pleases the heart of God. Just as God was pleased with the humility of the Ninevites, he is also pleased with us when we humble ourselves under him through the preparation of fasting. The whole purpose of fasting is humility before the Lord and to hear from the Lord, replacing food with more of God. Just as the Ninevites experienced, this time can also serve as a time of preparation. We hear the most clearly from God when we are still before him and cling to Him alone. Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:16–18 about how fasting is meant to be before God alone and not man. We do not fast to be impressed by others but to demonstrate to God our desperate need for him. What do you need to lay aside this lent season in order to better hear from God and draw close to him?

Reflection

  1. What is something in your life that you need to potentially fast from in order to hear from the Lord?
  2. Spend some time in prayer, asking God to speak to you about stepping into a season of preparation and fasting.
  3. Vintage has some previous resources on the topic of prayer and fasting that can be seen online at http://www.vintagechurchnola.com/prayer-fasting.