“Consecrate a fast. Call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord, your God, and cry out to the Lord.”
This is such a poignant call in the Book of Joel in the middle of sin and idolatry and immorality among God’s people when they need to be restored to God, forgiven of sin, reconciled to God. They need revival and restoration. So, how does it come about? Through fasting. Through a solemn assembly. Through gathering all the leaders together and crying out to God, turning to God. Oh, it’s definitely not the same. We’re not the people of Israel in the Old Testament today by any means, but I look around at the church in my country and we need to be reconciled to God.
Are we willing to cry out to God day and night? Lord, help us to be desperate for You.
We need to be restored. We need to be revived. We need to see sin in a fresh way for how serious it is and we need the mercy of God. And it’s not just that we need the mercy of God in our country. Yes, we need the mercy of God in our country, but it starts with us and the church calling out to God, crying out to God for his grace in our lives and our families upon us as his people in a way that we pray will revive and restore us and have an effect on the people, on the culture around us.
So, I guess the question is are we willing to fast toward that end? Are we willing to cry out to God day and night? Day and night. We’ve just recently in the church I pastor started having late night or all night prayer, together, crying out to God. And I am so convicted. Why have I not lead the churches I’ve been a part of in the past to do this? We are seeing God answer and move in powerful ways. Powerful things happen when we cry out to God, when we fast and we seek him.
So, let me encourage you. When was the last time you fasted? Let me encourage you to fast. Put aside food for a meal for a day, for however long God might lead and fast from food and say, “God, I need you more than this.” We need you. We are desperate for you more than we’re desperate for nourishment for our bodies. We’re desperate for your mercy as your people. And cry out to God. Do this individually. Do this as a family. Do this in your church where they’re all together in small groups in your church, cry out to God. God, we pray that you would teach us to do Joel 1:14. Teach us to fast, to put aside food, to cry out to you. God, teach us to pray in assembly altogether. I pray especially for leaders in your church, for other pastors, for all kinds of people who are leading in different ways in your church. God, make us a people who lead by prayer, who lead on our knees, who call others to pray. And as we seek your face, God, hear us. Hear our cries. Hear our cries for forgiveness. Hear our cries for mercy.
God, we need your mercy. We so need your grace in our lives, our families, our churches, and we so need your grace in our country. God, save us from ourselves. Save us from our sin. Show your mercy, we pray, to us. We cry out to you for this. Help us to fast for this, to cry out together for this day and night, all night and times. God, please, please, please hear our prayers and answer.
We know we’re not in the exact same situation as these pastors we’re reading in the Old Testament, but we know, God, that you hear the cries of your people and you promise to answer when we ask, according to your word. So, we cry for mercy, Oh God, and we pray that you would help us to do this day and night and day and night, that your mercy might be known among us and around us. God, please may it be so. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.
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