Fasting and Prayer: A 10 Week Bible Study, Week 5
The following devotional Bible study is based on our book Fast Friends: The Amazing Power of Friendship, Fasting and Prayer, available at Amazon.com (http://ow.ly/2bvzuL). While we are not theologians, we are students of the Bible and followers of Jesus Christ. We are two average women who want more of Jesus, and we have made the sacrifice to pray and fast together one day a week—a journey we share in much more detail in our book. We see an important link between fasting and prayer, and we want you to see that too through a personal study of God’s word. Although there is no biblical command to fast and pray, there are certainly reports in scripture showing God’s people engaged in these spiritual disciplines. We are offering you a free ten-week downloadable Bible study for your research into fasting and prayer.
Followers of Jesus are all charged with this message from scripture: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, nasb). If you are in Christ, you have the Holy Spirit to guide you into the truth of God’s word. For that reason, we will share the Bible stories, their location in scripture, and a few questions to spur you on to your own study. We will not expound on the Bible’s accounts. Instead, we will leave you to wrestle with your own findings and seek the Lord for answers. If you will commit to this process, you will be fulfilling 2 Timothy 2:15, becoming a student of the truth. Our hope is that this process will bring you into such closeness with God that you will truly learn what it means to have Jesus as your first love. We are praying for you.
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” – Esther, to Mordecai (Esther 4:16)
The book of Esther is a fascinating story in the Old Testament. In this book, God’s name is never once mentioned, yet the entire story is about God’s use of His strategically placed servants, Mordecai and his cousin Esther, to save the Jews from annihilation. For a background on how Esther came to be the Persian King Xerxes’ queen, read Esther chapters 1 and 2.
- Read Esther 3:1-5. What led to the King’s advisor, Haman, becoming enraged with Mordecai?
- What does verse 6 tell you about Haman’s solution to this problem?
- What was the response of the Jews throughout the provinces to the news of their imminent destruction (Esther 4:3)?
- Using your own knowledge or an online resource, what was the significance of the Jews laying in sackcloth and ashes?
At times, we need to humble our posture before the Lord when we come before Him in prayer and fasting. In what ways could this be true in your life right now?
- Throughout history, there have been plans to wipe out the Jewish nation. Read Ephesians 6:12. What does this verse teach us about the true source of all plots against God’s people?
- Mordecai approached Esther and asked for her to go uninvited before King Xerxes, which under his rule was punishable by death. Read Esther 4:13-14. What was Mordecai’s personal warning to Esther?
Where do you see evidence of Moredecai’s unfailing faith in verse 14?
And what was Mordecai’s encouragement and charge to Esther in the latter part of verse 14?
- Where has God placed you to serve Him in a way that only you can “for such a time as this?”
If you are unsure, will you ask Him to reveal it to you as you seek Him in prayer and fasting? Write out a brief prayer to Him here, either thanking Him for the task He has placed before you, or asking Him to clarify your current purpose in His plan.
- Read Esther 4:15-17. What was Esther’s immediate response to Mordecai’s request? What does this tell you about her character and faith?
- Why do you think she chose to fast and ask for the Jews to fast with her before she went before King Xerxes? What kinds of things might she have been praying for during those three days?
What areas of your life do you need to seek Him for wisdom and direction? Will you add fasting to your seeking Him for what you desperately need?
- Read Esther chapters 5-8. They tell of the king’s response to Esther and the miraculous “coincidence” of events God used to rescue his people. List verses from chapter 5 that show Esther’s wisdom, humility, and courage.
What character traits or qualities do you hope to have God develop in you? In what ways will you ask Him to use your time of fasting to transform you?
- Write out Hebrews 4:16.
Where Esther had to approach the king with fear for her life, how are we invited to approach God’s throne?
What does Hebrews 4:16 tell us we will receive from our King, the Most High God?
How does this encourage or challenge you today?