Fasting for a City's Salvation
Saturday, August 24, 2019
Devotional for Day 13
When a person sins against God, forgiveness is available through Christ Jesus. When a city has transgressed against God, absolution can seem far fetched because compounding ills plaguing communities appear to be without viable solutions. And yet, Scripturally, there is an answer! With wickedness comes warnings, and God will relent when we fast and pray.
The reality is, with sin comes the destruction of life and the degradation of any society, but God does not just exact punishment without warning. Rather, He gives grace and reveals (Amos 3:7). He does not overlook humility, but He forgives (2 Chronicles 7:14). And, He does not ignore the prayers of the righteous, but He answers (Psalm 34:15). No matter how pervasive or great the sin, through Christ forgiveness is still available as our Father responds to people with love, compassion and integrity.
We see the same in the book of Jonah. Though the storyline begins with Jonah’s disobedience and subsequent adventure, those events should not overshadow the love and compassion of God towards the city of Nineveh. Because of God’s love, the prophet cried out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”The warning was enough for the king to consider his ways and then marshal his city towards repentance. Jonah 3:6-9 records the king “arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, ‘Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?’”
God saw their display of repentance, He saw their rejection of evil and “relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” (Jonah 3:10)
The good news is that God remains the same today as He was yesterday; and every time we determine to heed the warnings of sin found in Scripture and humble ourselves, imminent doom upon our cities can be averted. Even more, we can find favor from God that affords much grace towards others.
For instance, the depravity within the city of Sodom was known by God, and while the residents within did not entertain repentance, God would uphold His integrity and honor His promise to one man, Abraham, by sparing his nephew, Lot. 2 Peter 2:8 says, Lot was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds of those within his city; and while the magnificent events of Lot’s deliverance, the rain of brimstone and fire, the turning of his wife to salt, and the smoke that plumed like a furnace from a distance, could divert our attention away from the point, it also underscores the power of prayer. As Abraham understood the impending doom, he interceded for his own and as a result, the city remained until Lot’s departure. In Genesis 19:22 Lot is told, “Hurry, escape there [to a nearby city]. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” The fact that God would uphold destruction until Lot left the city is absolutely amazing!
Plenty of people within our respective cities, then, are benefiting from our decision to remain and our earnest intercession for those in our immediate surroundings or zip code. Proverbs 3:29 says, your neighbor dwells by you for safety’s sake! And because of God’s love for people and His integrity and compassion towards all, when you combine fasting and prayer, He hears and He does relent—He saves, He spares, He gives grace.
Destruction may be on the horizon, but I pray that we’ll use this time of fasting and prayer to truly intercede for people in our respective cities: Pray for city officials, for the school board, for local hospitals and labor workers. Pray, and experience a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence, just as Paul promised in 2 Timothy 2:2. Pray and see the power of God at work in your life and in those around you. Pray. Let’s pray. Our cities—your city—needs you.
Father, I cry out to You because You see all things and are still slow to anger and abounding in love and mercy. So, today, I humble myself before You and declare Your Sovereignty over this city, _____________. Lord, where wickedness and depravity have come before You, remember the blood of Jesus, blot out our transgressions and be the Light in this city that breaks the darkness.
I command the prince of the power of the air, that spirit that works in the sons of disobedience in this area, to flee now! Jesus is Lord here, and I pray for the conviction of the Spirit of God to arrest the hearts of both young and old; male and female; and, every nation, tribe and tongue. Father, send laborers into this city that salvation would come to the lost. And make me a bold witness of Your love. I pray for a godly sorrow to come upon the hardest of hearts, and for a repentance that leads towards conversion that there may be a time of refreshing in every family, business and church. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Ministry Fellow, Christian Union at Princeton