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Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa and fast in my behalf. Don’t eat and don’t drink for three days, night or day. My female attendants and I will also fast in the same way.” (Esther 4:15-16)

In Zimbabwe, we had difficulty getting water from the wells. In my bumbling attempt to fix the plumbing, I needed a pipe fitting from the shed. The gardener had the key, but he was sulking over a fight, and couldn’t be found. After searching out the begrudging gardener, key, and fitting, I needed a wrench. I scrounged enough fuel to push start the broken motorcycle, rode to the repair shop, borrowed a wrench, then spent thirty minutes looking for a tool to fix the wrench. Compared to western efficiency, the challenges of the third world can be a source of frustration, or hilarity.

The following thirty hours were committed to prayer and fasting. It wasn’t a day off, but my most productive work. After the fast, life at the mission compound blossomed. Relationships healed, tools were in their proper places, and water gushed into the reservoirs.

Before Moses received the Old Covenant laws from God, he fasted. When Queen Esther’s people faced extermination, she fasted. Before Jesus began his ministry, he fasted. When the Holy Spirit told the disciples to set apart Paul and Barnabas, they were fasting. Intercession is our most effective activity, and fasting draws prayers from the middle of God’s river.

Fasting is not manipulation of the Almighty, wherein we convince him to help because he feels sorry for our self-imposed hunger. Rather, true fasting clears the way for our spirit to take primacy, and engage with the Spirit of God in the holy work of praying his will.

Prayer: Father in heaven, let me enter into your prayers through fasting.