Revelry. This isn’t a word often associated with prayer and fasting unless you really like to be hungry! Austerity, pushing through, joyless – these words are better candidates for describing many people’s experience of fasting. However, that’s not what we are aiming for in this fast, and that’s not what God wants of us either! He delights in our attention and he loves it when we deliberately turn our hearts to him. The Old Testament prophet, Joel, records this:
“Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning… Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” (ch 2)
He goes on to describe, for the Hebrew people, the tremendous blessings of turning to him – signs of his unfailing love include new wine and grain, and enough olive oil to supply all their needs. The animals would be well fed and the orchards full of fruit. He would send rain to water the land and the harvest would be piled high. There would be no more shame or disgrace. These promises, among others, would be enough to make the average Hebrew giddy with anticipation.
It’s a picture of revelry – and one that spoke to their situation. We may not care so much about olive oil and fattened animals (although some of the gourmet cooks among us may revel in this picture). What picture of overwhelming goodness might God give you through this fast? What does “more” look like for you? Let’s ask him to help us revel in his Spirit this week. As we fast whatever we’re giving up, let’s turn our hearts toward him, and seek the great bounty that is his presence!