Fasting and Prayer: A 10-Week Bible Study, Week 2
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.
The Fast of Jehoshaphat and Judah
2 Chronicles 20 1-30
Read I Kings 22:41-44. Who was Jehoshaphat?
Now read 2 Chronicles 17:3-6. What did Jehoshaphat do that pleased the Lord?
When Jehoshaphat became king, he honored God. In his early years he removed the high places dedicated to the worship of false gods and the Asherah poles* from Judah. In the third year of his reign he sent out his officials to teach the Book of the Law of the Lord in all the towns of Judah.
Jehoshaphat’s rule started out great, but in later years he made some poor choices outside of God’s will. You can study further in 2 Chronicles to learn about that period of his life. For now we will focus on 2 Chronicles 20 and how he called all of Judah to fast and pray together in community.
Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-30. Before you move on to the questions numbered below, ask yourself: When times get tough, what is your first response? Do you worry? Do you plan your course of action to remedy the negative situation? Or, as in the case of Jehoshaphat, do you inquire of the Lord?
- What was foretold to Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:1-2?
- In 2 Chronicles 20:3-4, what emotion does it say Jehoshaphat experienced? How did he decide to deal with this emotion?
- Study Jehoshaphat’s prayer in verses 5-12. Before Jehoshaphat presents the problem and asks for help, what does he recount about the Lord? Note, too, the progression of the prayer:
- Acknowledging God and who He is.
- Proclaiming their trust in Him even if they should face calamity.
- Proclaiming their faith in Him that he will hear and save them.
- Presenting the problem and who the perpetrators are.
- Acknowledging that they have no idea what to do but that their eyes are on the Lord, they declared their complete dependence on God and His goodness.
- In verses 14-17, who spoke the answer from the Lord and what did the Lord say?
- What was their response to God for this answer (verses 18-19)?
- Look over verses 20-24. When it came time to march into war, what did Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah do as they traveled? What did God set in motion as a result of their actions?
- Now consider verses 25-30. What is a recurring theme that resonates from the mouth of Judah to the Lord?
- Jehoshaphat and the people were faithful to worship God before they knew the outcome and after they saw His deliverance. Let us be faithful to follow their example and live in constant communion with praise and worship to our King. How could you offer God more commitment and gratitude?
Scripture doesn’t tell us why Jehoshaphat chose to have community fasting and prayer. Possibly it was because the vast armies were coming against all of Judah. Maybe it was because the king knew that the collective prayer of the people would honor God and show their dependence and commitment to Him. Whatever Jehoshaphat’s reason, his plan worked, and the people of Judah proclaimed together that “they did not know what to do but their eyes were on the Lord” (20:12). The result? Jehoshaphat and Judah depended on God, seeking Him through fasting and prayer. God delivered them from their enemies, and the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side. What does this tell you about the significance of prayer and fasting?
* Asherah was a Canaanite goddess associated with passion and the sea. The pagan gods Baal and
Asherah were commonly worshipped together. The Asherah poles were symbols of the goddess Asherah.