1 Kings 21:25-29 (NIV)
25 (There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife.
26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.)
27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.
28 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite:
29 “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”
There are those who say that God has already determined all things. Therefore we should sit back and ride this life out. No need to pray, no need to cry out to God because everything is predetermined.
Those who say such things have not read the entire text of Scripture, or at least if they have, they do not believe what the Word teaches. There are countless passages in the Bible that indicate God does hear and answer the prayers of his people, and sometimes even those who are not his people.
King Ahab had as his reputation, “There was never a man like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD.” Ahab had no concern for the things of God.
Elijah found Ahab and delivered to him some rather harsh words about his immediate future. They were the words of a prophet of God, and they were already set in time. A prophet of God had to be precise in his predictions, or he would be stoned.
Take special note of what transpires in this passage. Ahab had just been told that God was going to kill him, and dogs would lick up his blood. His children would all die, and his line would be brought to a complete end.
If you were a good Israelite, you would have left that session with Elijah and said, “Ahab is as good as dead.” immediately after Elijah leaves the throne room Ahab tore his clothes and put on sackcloth ad began to fast and went around meekly.
Notice what happens when he does this. God seems to have had a change of mind and tells Elijah to go back to Ahab and tell him his judgment was being Isdelayed until after his death.
Do you see this? Ahab, a person who has no concern for anyone but himself, hears the warning from God and sets about to humble himself with prayer and fasting. Does he care for God? I do not think the text will let you reach that conclusion. He still cares only for himself. Yet God sees his act of humbling himself and tells Elijah to go back to tell Ahab that God is delaying his judgment until after his life is over.
Is it possible that God stays his hand of judgment because people, even Ahab, set to humble himself through prayer and fasting? It does seem to be the case with Ahab and with an entire city in the book of Jonah.
What might happen if the church decided to give themselves to prayer and fasting for our cities? Could it be that God is waiting for the church to humble herself through this spiritual discipline so he may bring awakening in our day?
Only God knows. Praying and fasting for the city.