(Background: Esther is a young Jewish woman who has been made queen of her nation – though her ethnicity is a secret. At about the time she is made queen, a powerful ally of the king convinces the king to have all Jewish people killed because they will not bow down to royal people as is the law. The king agrees to this, not knowing his own wife Esther is Jewish. Esther and her father Mordecai are making plans for how to respond to this situation, using messengers to communicate.)
Esther 4:13 Mordecai told (the queen’s messengers) to tell Esther, “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” 15 Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do. After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.” 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
Two things strike me about this passage:
1. v. 16 Esther calls for a fast – a time of abstaining from food. It’s a common practice in the bible when people want to humble themselves before God, essentially demonstrating their need of God’s favor and blessing more than for food.
2. Calling a fast is also recognizing that Esther and her father Mordecai have no good options. The situation is really bad, and they realize their only hope is for the Lord to intervene. Going without food for a few days is a small price to pay to avoid a catastrophe – if God will grant their wish.
I don’t fast often (perhaps I should?), but when I do there is no doubt my sensitivity to God goes way up. It’s like my mind and spirit are open to God in remarkable ways. Prayer is more vibrant. Reading scripture is more fruitful. It’s like someone turns up my God sensitivity knob for a while. (Kairos for me – why don’t I do this more often?!)
Questions for you:
1. Is there a situation in your life right now that, if your honest, is beyond your control – but is important nonetheless?
2. Have you humbled yourself before God and sought his favor in this situation? Sometimes God is our only hope.
3. Have you ever fasted (partially or completely abstained from food) and coupled that with time of prayer? It’s powerful stuff. Be sure it’s medically okay for you to skip one meal or more. But if it is, you should give it a try. Below is a link to some basics about fasting and prayer.
Lord Jesus, today we recognize our need of you. We’d like to think we’re in control of our lives, but then reality confirms we are not. Give us grace to humble ourselves before you and seek your favor. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.