Joel 2:12-17 (NIV)
12 ‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’
13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing– grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, ‘Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?”
The reason for the fast in Joel was to return to God. The other nations did not yet know God, and they needed to see God in Israel. When the Spirit of the Lord descended on the new Church in Jerusalem, everyone that gathered in Jerusalem knew something had happened. Many were converted.
In the early days of the New Testament Church, people encountered God in the worship services. (Acts 5:1-9) To worship with the early church was something not everyone wanted to do; it was dangerous. Frankly, you did not know what would happen when you came to worship. Some died during the worship service and were brought back to life while worship was still going on. (Acts 20:7-12)
Some, convicted of possessing immoral material, came and burned the material in front of the Apostles. The cost of the material was more than one hundred and fifty years of wages. (Acts 20:17-20)
Whatever happened during worship in the early church, people left with a profound sense of the majesty of God. (Acts 5:12-16)
The most crucial reason to set apart time to fast and pray is that we find our selves wandering far from God. It happens to all of us at times, the world sneaks up on us, and before we know it, we find ourselves far from God and don’t even realize we have wandered.
A time of prayer and fasting is set aside to encourage those who belong to God to draw close to Him again and find in Him their sole source of lasting joy and contentment.
Church, may we give ourselves to this great endeavor that the Lord our God may revisit us that the world will know that Jesus is Lord. I am praying for each of you as you prepare to join us in this great adventure. It begins this Sunday.