The VALUE of ‘FASTING’ during our 'TROUBLES': Then all the children of Israel, that is, all the people, went up and came to the house of God and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. So the children of Israel inquired of the Lord (the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days), saying, "Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?" And the Lord said, "Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand." (Judges 20:26-28)
This fasting incident took place not long after the death of Joshua and his generation, for Phinehas was the high priest in those days (v. 28). The tribe of Benjamin had only 26,700 soldiers, against 400,000 from all the other tribes of Israel (vv. 15–17). However, in the first battle the tribe of Benjamin killed about 22,000 Israelite men (vv. 18–21). In the second battle, again about 18,000 Israelite men were killed (vv. 22–25). The reason why the other tribes of Israel could not be victorious was because they were not walking close to Jehovah!
So, the Israelites were forced to humble themselves before God through fasting until finally success was promised. The situation called for a day of fasting and weeping, as the people cried out to the Lord for mercy and wisdom (v. 26). They implored the favor of God by offering burnt-offerings and peace-offerings to make atonement for their sin and to acknowledge their dependence upon God. This time the Lord promised them success (vv. 26–28). It was only after Israel recognized that the battle was not theirs but the Lord’s that they were able to prevail.
We too cannot expect the presence of God with us, unless we thus seek it in the way God has appointed. When we operate on the basis of human wisdom, we create one problem after another, but when we pause to pray and seek the mind of the Lord, He shows us what to do. Fasting is a means toward spiritual focus by concentrating on God through soul searching rather than on food and other personal needs!
Let us understand that there is a great value in fasting during our troubles. Fasting must center on God alone as our eyes are fixed on Him. As we spend our time on fasting and inner reflection, it will reveal the things that really control us. We would truly be sustained by the word of God (Matt. 4:4) as we fast in His presence. Fasting will help us keep our balance in life as we afflict ourselves before God (Psalms 35:13). Fasting is a discipline that will ultimately give us true freedom, and our prayers will be more effective as we will be guided by God in our crucial decisions!
God will truly reward us when we diligently seek Him in fasting. Have you tried fasting and prayer to effectively face the troubles in your life?