Have you ever wondered what God’s will is for your life? Every day we ask ourselves questions like: Who should I marry? What school should I go to? Should I become a missionary or get a secular job? Where should I live? What is the next step for my life? A fast can help bring clarity when making these decisions.
One of my friends was trying to decide if he should romantically pursue a particular girl. He decided to go on a three day fast in order to seek God’s council. While God did not speak to him audibly, he did feel peace at the end of the fast about dating her. When I asked him why he felt he needed to fast, my friend explained, “I needed to hear from God. I did not know how to hear God’s voice and I knew I needed to have a few days of quiet so I could become sensitive to what He was saying.”
One occasion when fasting was used to seek direction was when the Israelites were at war. For two days, they had gone to battle and lost thousands of lives and now they are wondering if they should turn and run or stay to fight one more day. “Then the Israelites, all the people, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the LORD. They fasted that day until evening…And the Israelites inquired of the LORD…They asked, “Shall we go up again to battle…?” The LORD responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands” (Judges 20:26-28). On the third day, they completely defeated the enemy. Perhaps you have suffered a defeat in your business or job and you are wondering if you should throw in the towel or keep trying. A fast can help answer your questions
A similar situation occurred when “…Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast…” (2 Chronicles 20:3-4). In response to this fast, God gave King Jehoshaphat precise instructions on how to win the war he was facing. A time of quiet before God will silence the conflicting voices in our heads and amplify God’s voice. This makes God’s will easier to discover and follow. God often speaks during times of fasting.
For example, in the fifth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, a day of fasting was proclaimed for Judah. Throughout the fast, the people came to the temple with their petitions for God. It was during this time of fasting that Jeremiah the prophet finished dictating the word of the Lord to his scribe Baruch and sent him to read the divine revelation in the temple. Jeremiah told him, “…go to the house of the Lord on a day of fasting and read to the people from the scroll the words of the Lord that you wrote as I dictated” (Jeremiah 36:6). The day of fasting was the day God chose to reveal His will. Unfortunately, neither the king nor the people listened to what God was saying. They fasted and came to the temple with prayer requests, but when God began to speak, they did not listen. Sometimes, God may say what we do not want to hear, but before embarking on a fast we should make a commitment to hearing and obeying what God says.
For several years, I have made a habit of setting aside time in January for fasting. This gives me the opportunity to seek direction for the New Year and it serves as a “first-fruits” offering of my time to God.