Week One – Day 1
TODAY’S FAST – Fast one meal today and use that time as an appointment with God
Read Joel 2:1-17
In towns in the Midwest where tornadoes are a prevalent threat, sirens are placed aloft telephone poles. The piercing wail, rising and falling in pitch, signifies that disaster is imminent and action needs to be taken immediately.
Joel 2:1-17 envisions an ancient version of this. Watchmen on top of Jerusalem’s wall are told by their officer to blow the ram’s horn to notify the residents of impending doom. The disaster headed their way is likened to a storm but is—in reality—God, Himself. The horn is sounded to alert the people that the time is coming (“Day of the Lord”) when God will choose to allow the full consequences of their rebellion to impact them. It will be a day of “clouds and darkness” (v.2). See the imagery?
All is not lost, however. Like the tornado sirens in the Midwest, the sound signifies that there is time for action to be taken. Joel 2:12-17 goes on to define what can be done to ensure that life might be protected and disaster averted. Prayer and fasting are key actions to take, not simply as an external discipline, but for an actual changing of the heart (2:13).
We have similar alarms built into our hearts today by God’s Spirit. Our conscience cries out, waking us up at night, telling us all is not well. The repentance we see in Joel is still the right response. God is alerting us to where a course correction is needed in our own lives, and we need to respond. This time of fasting and prayer over the next 40 days is intended to acknowledge that we hear the alarm, that we will seek God about where we need to take action, and that we will return to growing in His likeness.
Today’s prayer focus is simple, and yet probably the most difficult prayer you will ever have to pray. Today, whether for the first time or the hundredth time, pray that you will be able to lay down your life (all of it; the good, the bad, and the ugly) in exchange for His life. Pray that you would hold nothing back; that you would exist completely for your Heavenly Father in the example of Christ, who denied Himself to the point of death, even death on the cross, to the glory of God the Father.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly.”
Joel 2:15 NIV