Have you ever participated in a group fast? Some churches have been known to declare a fast for their entire congregation for a period of time to seek God on a matter. If you’ve had the opportunity to participate in such a fast, I trust that God gave you an answer to the purpose of your fast. Group fasting is biblical. Entire nations have fasted when they’ve needed a move of God, and I believe when God sees this kind of humility and unity amongst his people, he can’t help but meet them in the midst of it. Jehoshaphat found that out when he was faced with war as a vast army was on the move against him. It says in second Chronicles 20, verses 2 through 4:
“Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar’. Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”
And when they came together as one and fasted, seeking the Lord earnestly, God answered. He spoke through his prophet telling Judah that he would fight the battle for them. The Bible says that God told them to, “stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.” Then God set an ambush and the armies ended up fighting against each other. You see, God is always listening. But sometimes, when we have an issue that is urgent, when we have a problem that requires a miracle, nothing gets God’s attention faster than believers fasting, praying and crying out to him. Jehoshaphat proclaimed a nationwide fast, and the whole nation of Judah answered that call. Maybe our churches, and even our nation, should take a page out of Jehoshaphat’s playbook.
You may have fasted on your own when you’ve had an urgent issue to bring before the Lord. And if so, that is very biblical. But it is also biblical for large groups of believers to fast, and as second Chronicles puts it, “to come together to seek help from the Lord.” Our urgency and earnestness can influence God. When as a group we fast and cry out to the Lord, I believe that he sees our heightened urgency and in realizing how utterly desperate we are, responds accordingly. Of course, God knows what we need before we even ask him, but this portion of scripture proves that it is always helpful when he knows that we know that as well.