For the past few weeks 2 Chronicles 17-20 has captured my attention during my study in the Bible. I love when God leads me to a passage and asks me to sit with it, digest it, and allow His Spirit to meet with me through it.
What have you read lately in the Bible? How are you sitting with it, digesting it, and allowing the Holy Spirit to meet you in through it?
Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah teaches me as I read and reread the account of his story. What a name, right?! Try saying it five times fast :–).
The Lord was with Jehoshaphat. He sought the Lord and walked in His commandments. His heart was “courageous in the ways of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 17:6). I found myself pondering the courage within my own heart. What is the foundation of my courage? What about you? When positioned in the ways of the Lord, true courage and trust in God emerge.
Although courageous, Jehoshaphat faced a dilemma. A great multitude of adversaries prepared to come against him and Judah. When he found himself afraid because of the battle at hand, he “set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast through all of Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3).
I began to wonder about the fears in my life; there are many. What about you? Ponder for a minute – notice the presence of fear in your everyday movements and encounters. Really, pause to look at decisions, conversations, and actions: how does fear fit into these spaces?
Even though Jehoshaphat experienced fear, he intentionally took the stance of seeking God. He knew that he needed God’s help to attend not only to the fear within his soul, but to provide wisdom for the impending battle. I imagine this fearful king declaring that fear would not rule his soul, so perhaps he stood up from his throne, taking a physical stance against the unknown, lifting his gaze to the One who proves faithful in all things.
Take a moment and stand tall with feet planted sturdily upon the ground, arms raised with strength and longing, and head lifted in humility seeking the Lord. He is trustworthy with our fears. Can you feel the mighty power of God move through you by the Spirit as you take this position? I do.
Jehoshaphat declared a fast through his entire kingdom. He knew that strength was found in God alone. All of Judah joined their king to seek help from the Lord. They fasted and they prayed.
To fast – A voluntary denial of something for a specific time and for a spiritual purpose. A voluntary abstention from an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity.
The Bible doesn’t clearly state the length of this fast throughout Judah, but the Scriptures point out that it took place and this intense spiritual activity of the people included beseeching the God of heaven to move on their behalf. “In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you” (2 Chronicles 20:6). “We will stand…and cry to you in our distress and you will hear and save” (vs. 9). “For we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (vs. 12).
Their fast offered more space to cry out to the God of heaven. The practice of fasting arose from a serious situation when deep recognition of dependence upon God proved the only solution. Jehoshaphat’s call to fast was not to manipulate God to “do their will” but to align themselves with the Father’s will through submission. Fasting freed all of Judah from the tendency to sort the problem themselves in order to control the outcome. Instead, the fast brought them to a place of humble surrender to God and His ways. It helped them grow – to trust in the unseen world rather than the seen. Fasting revealed an inner yearning for the will of God.
While it may be assumed that Jehoshaphat and his kingdom fasted from food to beseech the Lord, fasting is a voluntary denial of anything. Fast from the phone. Fast from TV. Fast from podcasts. Fast from a meal. Fast from dessert. Fast from work. Fast from alcohol. Fast from social media. Fast from gossip. Fast from criticism. Fast from worry.
Fasting involves intention. Fasting is not skipping breakfast because you like to sleep in. Fasting is not setting work aside because the power went out and you have no electricity. Fasting is not trying to lose weight by skipping breakfast. Fasting aims to lead us closer to our Savior. The length of a fast might vary, lasting 15 minutes, 1 day, or weeks. Nevertheless, fasting propels us into Kingdom living and alignment with the heart and mind of God. Fasting leads to abiding in Christ (John 15).
What fear or concern might you bring before the Lord with a fast? Consider this for a moment. Determine a specific time and enter a fast with the Lover of your soul.
For Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, the Spirit of the Lord spoke hope: “The battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the LORD on your behalf…Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you” (vs. 17). The Scriptures unfold revealing that Jehoshaphat and all of Judah worshipped the Lord, God sent an ambush, celebration ensued, and peace reigned in the realm of Jehoshaphat (vs. 18-30). God moved on behalf of the surrendered people of Judah.
No matter the outcome, a fast changes those engaged in the practice. For Judah and Jehoshaphat, they moved from a place of fear to a place of faith in God. Spiritual realities abound from fasting: faith begins to flow, trust leads to triumph, dependence propels deeper communion with God, and freedom launches eagerness to follow the Lord. God meets with those who fast, bringing transformation to the soul.
Andrew Murray stated in With Christ in the School of Prayer: “Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God” (102).
Enjoy a fast with Jesus. Reach out to the Unseen, our great and mighty God. Let go of the turmoil within and encounter the One who works for your good.
Practice fasting as a sacrifice of your will to align with the will of God and His Kingdom. Like Jehoshaphat welcome God’s presence into the depths of your soul as you bring fear and confusion before the throne of grace through a purposeful and humble declaration of dependence upon God with prayer and fasting.
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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
2 Chronicles 17-20 – Read Jehoshaphat’s story.
Exodus 14:13-15 – Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.
Andrew Murray, Revised by Harold J. Chadwick. With Christ in the School of Prayer. Gainsville, FL. 1999.
Scot McKnight. Fasting. Nashville, TN. 2009.
Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.
Kim Walker-Smith. Just Be. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tmTMzKuGMo
Anthem Lights Cover. I Surrender All. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaHYX2eu9uo
Puddles for Prayer: Please pray for these upcoming speaking engagements.
September 7 – Littleton, CO. Front Range Christian School Elementary Staff Meeting