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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

When a mother sees that her child is seriously sick, she swoops him up and takes him to a doctor as soon as possible.  She does this because she has faith in a couple of important details:  She has faith that her assessment of the seriousness of her child’s illness is accurate. Also, she has faith that a medical doctor will genuinely seek to help her child and, quite possibly, will be able to help heal him.

This is what faith looks like for a mother with a sick child, which begs the question, what does faith look like for the Christian who desires for God to change a community or a nation? 

When the nation of Assyria was a world power, God directed the Jewish prophet Jonah to deliver a message to the inhabitants of the capital city of Nineveh.  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2).  When Jonah finally arrived, he confronted the Assyrians because of their wickedness, telling them of the coming judgment of God:  “And he called out, ‘Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’”  And then something remarkable happened.  Jonah 3:5 records, “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.”

Even the king humbled himself in fasting. He called the entire city to follow suit, and he encouraged them to “call out mightily to God” and each person to “turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.”

The king and inhabitants of Nineveh had faith in God:

1.     They knew God was just, which meant judgment for wickedness went unchecked for a long period of time. 

2.     They knew God was merciful, which meant that even though disaster was planned, He might be willing to relent.

3.     They knew God was relational and that they might be able to repair their relationship with Him.

4.     They knew that fasting, prayer, and repentance were means to restore their relationship with God and could possibly sway Him to extend mercy to them. 

You are probably aware of God’s response:  “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.”  Their faith in God led them to fast, pray, and repent, and God responded!  He spared the city of the judgment that was arriving in as little as 40 days. 

I praise God for you because you also believe God and are fasting, praying, and repenting so God might have mercy on you, your community, and the nation.  I ask you to pray in particular that American Christians take to heart the four demonstrations of faith of the citizens of Nineveh.  Today, many Christians do not deeply appreciate #3 and #4.  It’s not widely understood that even though we are Christians our relationship with God can be damaged and therefore possibly in need of repair.  Nor is it well understood that expending effort to draw close to God, we can repair our relationship with Him, and therefore attract His presence and blessing.  When large number of Christians in this nation turn to God wholeheartedly like the citizens of Nineveh, we can expect God to radically change the landscape of this country. 
Matt Bennett
Founder and President