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One of the most encouraging aspects of fasting is that it invites God’s favor in our life. We desperately need God’s favor because there are times when life’s circumstances are out of our control. And when we are hit with an unforeseen difficulty, the results can be tragic. Although we may not be able to control our situation, we can dictate our response to them.
A great example in the Bible of why we need favor is Nehemiah. Nehemiah was confronted with catastrophic news and was desperate for God to intervene. “Things are not going well for those who returned. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” (1:3)
This news was shocking, but Nehemiah’s righteous response would garner favor from God, which would bend the will of an enemy king and change the course of Israel’s history. What did he do? Nehemiah fasted and prayed, believing that God’s favor can turn around even the most hopeless situations! “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of Heaven.” (v.4)
His prayer was simple, “Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” (v.11), but his faith was profound, and God went above and beyond all Nehemiah asked.
God gave Nehemiah supernatural favor with the king. God took a king that was in opposition to Israel and turned his heart to be gracious to them. Through prayer and fasting, a seemingly impossible situation was turned around by God’s favor.
Be encouraged today that no matter what situation you may be facing, God can turn it around by imparting His favor on your life. As we are fasting and praying, we can be confident that God is on the move in our lives and is more than able to do the impossible in our situation!
Nehemiah 1:3-11 (NLT)
They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of Heaven. Then I said,
“O Lord, God of Heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.
“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’
“The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants. O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”
In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer.
Nehemiah 2:8 (NLT)
And please give me a letter addressed to Asaph, the manager of the king’s forest, instructing him to give me timber. I will need it to make beams for the gates of the Temple fortress, for the city walls, and for a house for myself.” And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me.