21 Days of Prayer and Fasting
Daily Devotional – Day 3 – January 14, 2015
“Return Your Heart to the Lord”
Read: Joel 2:12-13
The book of Joel in the Bible is about Judah’s experience with a severe locust plague. It is so brutal that, “What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten” (Joel 1:4). This swarm of locusts has caused famine and even death. God’s response through the prophet Joel is for the people of Judah to fast (Joel 1:14; 2:12). God desires to help His people in their time of trouble but not before teaching them a lesson. God reminds the people of Judah that while this locust swarm is terrible, the Day of the Lord will be worse for those who do not turn to Him in repentance. God has a way of putting things into eternal perspective. God is not uncaring in our troubles. His desire was to help His people by driving the locust out of the land, feeding them, and repaying them for what the locust had eaten (Joel 2:14-27. But greater than just helping them physically, He wanted their hearts – a spiritual renewal and revival.
Joel 2:12-13 says, “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 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.” His desire is to help them long term – eternally. Why would he want them to fast in the middle of devastation – especially when they are already hungry? Going without food is different than fasting. Hunger says food was taken away from me. Fasting intentionally takes food away and places one’s dependence on God. God could have removed the locust, fed the people, and they still would have been far away from Him. Fasting was necessary to move their hearts back to Him. He wanted their bellies full of food but more importantly He wanted their hearts full of Him. God told the people He would not only remove the locust and even restore their nation (Joel 3), but do a greater thing – pour out His Spirit and save them (Joel 2:28-32). “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Joel 2:32).
As you fast remember God wants your heart. The purpose of fasting is returning your heart to the Lord. Saying no to more food in your bellies (fasting) and yes to more of God in your heart (prayer and worship) will always produce a great harvest. The grand result is He will dwell with you (Joel 3:21).
- In what ways are you returning to the Lord during this fast? Be specific.
- What “locusts” are in your life causing harm and destruction?
- Which bothers you more – the presence of locust or the absence of the Lord?
- Can God’s presence only exist in the absence of the “locusts” of life?
- What if God’s people had been near to Him when the locusts hit? How would they have responded? What if you are strong spiritually before physical problems hit?
Lord, I consecrate a fast in my life. I desire my heart to return to you. I want you more than I want my problems to disappear. I want my heart full of you more than I want my belly full of food. Increase my spiritual appetite for you. Thank you for pouring out your Spirit in my life and saving me. I desire to be your dwelling place. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Church Prayer Request:
Pray God will keep you from just being a consumer (just attending, listening, taking in) at Family Church and show you how to be a giver (serving, part of the vision, pouring your life into someone else).
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.
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