When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:12-14)
Esther is one of my favorite Biblical figures. Through her intervention the entire Jewish nation is saved. It takes place in the 5th century BC. The Persian King, Xerxes (Ahasuerus), who reigns over a mighty empire, decides to give a 7-day banquet for all the people present in
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in
The first thing we see is that God gives favor to the one fasting.
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. Then the king asked, "what is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you." Esther 5:1-3
Not only is Esther granted permission to approach the king, she is also granted a generous promise. It is important to remember here that Esther has gone to great lengths to please this king in the past. As discussed in the spiritual fitness section of chapter one, Esther had learned how to approach. A Jewish classmate of mine one time related a memory about her Jewish grandmother. When explaining to her granddaughters the story of Esther, she counseled her granddaughters the importance of "knowing how to approach". It is advice I took to heart.
When I was a young girl growing up in my parents' home, I learned there were some times that were more opportune than others when it came to approaching my father with a request. Dad was a very active businessman who had several businesses, which meant his time was valuable. He generally responded to requests as quickly as possible with minimum time expenditure. Of course, the times available to me with my father were generally in the evenings when he was tired after a day's work, or on the fly as he was on his way out the door. So I learned to watch for the most opportune time and place to present Dad with my request. Whether it was permission to spend the weekend with a friend, borrow the car, ask for extra money or any other young girl requests, waiting for the right moment and then phrasing my request with well thought out, intelligent and kind petitions proved much more successful than trying to catch Dad in a hurry when he had other things on his mind. It was too easy at those times for him to dismiss me with a "No". So I learned "to approach" Dad when he was rested and relaxed. I learned how to present my request in a way acceptable to him. It required me to take the time to learn about my father and what pleased him, what was agreeable to him. Of course that meant spending time with him and because he was a busy man I chose to spend time with him doing what he liked to do.
Consequently, I became a sports fan, especially of baseball because that was my father's favorite sport. During long afternoons watching baseball games together, I got to know a lot about my father and he also got to know me. We started really enjoying each other's companionship. As a result, our times together became loving and fruitful; we enjoyed pleasing each other. My father gave me favor granting many of my requests.
It is still true today in both the physical and spiritual if you desire to gain favor, learn how to approach. In the spiritual realm, fasting seems to open the way. As we humble ourselves through fasting, the physical dimension diminishes and the spiritual realm comes more clearly into focus. We consciously set aside time to learn about our heavenly Father and what pleases Him, what is acceptable to Him. We find ourselves wanting to spend more time with Him because of who He is and our desires change from wanting something from Him to wanting to give ourselves to Him. Although we start out seeking favor from Him, we end up desiring Him. Then, without even asking, we find we have received His goodwill.
The second result of fasting we see is that God will disturb those in power or those who have what you need and move them to action.
That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. Esther 6:1
Do you think it just happened by accident that this particular night the king could not sleep? And why was the book of chronicles opened? God had caused a previous situation to occur which set up Mordecai for honor. Two of the king's officers who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes had been overheard plotting their evil deed by Mordecai, who promptly turned them in. Upon reading the account of Mordecai's faithfulness to the king, Xerxes sought to reward Mordecai. The very one the enemy sought to destroy was positioned for respect and recompense. Esther fasted and prayed and the king could not sleep. There are no coincidences with God. The facts are: Esther called for a fast; King Xerxes is disturbed, has insomnia and is moved to action.
Early in my husband's media career, he experienced an untimely layoff from a large nonprofit organization, which was experiencing some financial cutbacks. Because this was a nonprofit organization they were not required to carry unemployment insurance, so when David was laid off we found ourselves with a huge decrease in our income and no job prospects. We were a young couple just starting out. We had an eighteen-month-old son and I was several months pregnant with another child. We had just bought our first home and had a house payment, a new little family, a baby on the way and no medical insurance. Although David took any job he could find while he sent his resume out to find a new job in his field, it was nearly a year before he found a new position. The income, meanwhile, was much less than we were accustomed to and our budget could not be shrunk enough to accommodate our financial situation. While we did everything we knew to do in the natural, the thing that pulled us through that year was what happened in the supernatural. We prayed and fasted.
During this time David and I prayed and fasted both together and alone, petitioning God on behalf of our little family. While most of our prayers were focused on a new job for David, we also asked God to provide for our needs. Soon provision started pouring in. Sometimes it would be in the form of a temporary job; sometimes it would be an unexpected generous offering as a result of my speaking/teaching.
The answers to our prayer and fasting came through people with the resources we needed, who were moved to action by God. Looking back after this experience we discovered our monthly income had either equaled or surpassed our previous income. Our little dilemma does not compare to the genocide facing Esther's people. It does, however, show the kind of God to whom we pray. Whether it is the welfare of a new little family just starting out or a multi-national corporation with years of history, or an entire nation, prayer and fasting opens the way for spiritual answers. God will wake up those in authority or those who have what you require and stir them to action.
A third result of fasting is humility. The LORD humbles the one praying. Look at Esther's humility in her petition to King Xerxes.
Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life-this is my petition. And spare my people-this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king." Esther 7:3-4
Even though the king has offered Esther up to half his kingdom, she does not presume upon his generosity. Unlike the former queen who would not even come at the king's request, this fasting and praying bride approaches the bridegroom with unassuming meekness. Look at her language and posture.
Her posture is humble and her speech is full of respect. Her focus is on the king's wishes: "If it pleases the king." "If he regards me with favor." "If he is pleased with me." "If he thinks it the right thing to do." Then her petition is not for herself but rather for her people, her family. Fasting and praying have a way of putting things in divine perspective. We see others as more important than ourselves and we move into a more Christ-like posture. Jesus' humility is our supreme example.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11
Solomon wrote, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18) Jesus interpreted that and showed us how to put humility before exaltation, others before self. A friend once gave me a simple but profound piece of advice. He said, "Find someone and put them on your shoulder". In other words lift them up higher, help them see farther, be their champion, supporter and intercessor. It has proved to be inspired counsel as through the years I have watched God place people in my path to "put on my shoulder". Hostile to our natural tendencies of self-preservation and self-promotion, this flies in the face of the world that tells us, "Look out for number one." "You deserve it." We are daily bombarded with the world's viewpoint creeping into our mind-set. Prayer and fasting have assisted my vision and perspective whenever my attitude needed adjusting. If you want your attitude to be the same as that of Christ Jesus, try fasting.
Spoil and Authority
That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman's estate. Esther 8:1-2
Fasting and praying opens God's provision and releases resources. In Esther's case it was the property and possessions of the enemy, Haman. The signet ring of the king himself, which had fallen into unrighteous hands, is transferred to the righteous Mordecai. God wants His people in positions of authority and He delights in giving them the kingdom.
Look at King David. He was a warrior king blessed by God. Often when David went to war, the plunder of the enemy came into his kingdom giving him vast riches, extending the authority of a Godly ruler. Likewise, our warring in prayer and fasting can result in the plundering of the enemy. We are also given the authority, which the enemy has usurped. Right now in the workplace there is an enemy, who has the signet ring, and the LORD wants it to come into the hand of his people.
When our children were in elementary school, I worked as a substitute teacher in their school district, one of the largest in the country serving 2 kindergarten centers, 28 elementary schools, 7 middle schools, 6 large high schools and several special services centers. As an art educator, I was certified to teach all levels and consequently got to know people all over the district. That is how I got to know the district art facilitator, whom I will call Helen (not her real name).
Helen was a woman of power and influence who had gained the reputation of a Pit Bull, implementing a strong and vibrant K-12 art curriculum throughout the district at a time when art was being cut in most districts due to budget constraints. In fact, it was because of budget cutbacks she had agreed to teach two hours a day in addition to her district responsibilities, which were vast.
Once Helen found out about me she commandeered me as her designated substitute, which meant I would only teach a two-hour day whenever I taught for her, cutting my salary in half. Because of extensive district level duties, Helen needed me often and my income diminished. Going before the Lord about this, I felt impressed to serve Helen and trust the finances to God. Along with the humility to take a cut in pay and to continue serving the Pit Bull, who by the way I was beginning to greatly respect, God rewarded my prayer and fasting with peace about this directive. I was asked only to trust and obey, God would provide.
Over the next couple years I spent a lot of time filling in for Helen, organizing her disheveled art department and learning a lot about the curriculum. We seldom saw each other because when I was in her place she was off doing other duties. We did, however, speak often by phone and wrote each other exhaustive curriculum notes getting to know each other professionally.
When the district decided to build a new high school, many of the art faculty in the district targeted a high school position hoping to transfer their teaching assignment. Helen, who had district art hiring and firing authority, asked me to apply.
It turned out the job was a split position to be shared with Helen. As I mentioned before, Helen had the reputation of a Pit Bull and I was not sure what it would be like working with her, rather than for her. Again, after consulting the Lord, I proceeded, got the job and began working with Helen. After one year Helen moved into a new job, and in place of many others who wanted it, I was placed head of the department. Even though I was new to the district and it was not even on my radar screen to seek this position, God pulled me from obscurity and placed me in a strategic spot for his purposes: to extend His authority into my sphere of influence in this huge school district serving thousands of young minds and hearts.
Evil Turned Back Upon Itself
A fifth benefit of fasting results in evil being turned back upon itself. Haman had ordered the building of a gallows 75 feet high, approximately the height of the city walls, on which he purposed to have Mordecai hanged. It was probably exaggerated in height so everyone would see Mordecai's destruction. But after King Xerxes learns of Haman's vile plot against the people of the king's beloved queen, the tide turns.
Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, "A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman's house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king." So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king's fury subsided Esther 7:9-10
But when the plot came to the king's attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. Esther 9:25
This is what the Lord Almighty says: "I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to
This always seemed so harsh to me until I came to understand a bit more about the nature of evil and it's cancerous characteristic. God wants it unreservedly destroyed, and in this case He commanded Saul to do it. Saul, however, spared Agag, king of the Amalekites, along with the best of the sheep, oxen, lambs and all that was good. He only destroyed what was despised and worthless. God was not pleased and sent Samuel with a message for Saul.
But Samuel said to him, "I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over
Saul failed to obey God and suffered the consequences. God took the kingdom away from Saul and gave it to David. Then Samuel obeyed God's command to eradicate the evil. "And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal." (1 Samuel 15:33:b RSV)
At the end of Saul's life we find an ironic turn of events. Saul and his army had been defeated in battle by the Philistines. Saul asked his armor bearer to kill him with his sword so the Philistines would not get him, but the armor bearer refused out of fear. So Saul fell on his own sword. Three days later, a man from Saul's camp came into David's camp and David asked him, "How did it go?" The man told David that Saul was dead and David wanted to know the details.
"I happened to be on
At the end of his life Saul was killed by an Amalekite, the very people God previously told him to wipe out. Saul's failure to obey God came back on his own head. When David heard the report, he had the Amalekite slain and just as Samuel had done before him, David fulfilled God's command to utterly destroy the enemy, in this case the Amalekites.
God does not mess around with His enemies. He wants the evil completely eradicated, so no further poison will linger to cause future infection. He did the same thing in Noah's day when he flooded the entire earth to get rid of the evil. Only Noah and his family escaped.
The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth-men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air-for I am grieved that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. Genesis 6:5-8
God has not changed since the days of Noah. He still hates evil and enlists us in the battle against it. When Esther and her people prayed and fasted, God returned Haman's evil back onto his own head and extended it to wipe out his seed as well. Let us not be like Saul who missed his opportunity to wipe out the enemies of God. Let us be like Noah who found favor with God. Let us be encouraged to ask God in our intercession to turn the evil back upon itself, and even to increase it, fully eradicating the enemy.
Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Daniel 10:12-13
In both Daniel's and Esther's lives, these supernatural principalities, powers and spiritual hosts of wickedness had influenced people and events on the earth. You can be sure the same thing still happens today on a daily basis all over the earth. Daniel and Esther joined fasting to their prayers and found incredible breakthrough. We can too. Just as angels entered the battle to speed up the delivery of God's answers for Daniel and Esther, our fasting engages the angelic on our behalf, expediting our breakthroughs. It is help we desperately need in these days, when spiritual warfare seems to be intensifying.
Elevation of the Righteous
The seventh benefit of fasting is it elevates the righteous. We've already seen the king give Mordecai his signet ring. In addition to the king, all the people will come to see the favor of God upon Mordecai and the Jews. No longer will the Jewish people be afraid, rather they will be feared and the people in positions of power will come to their aid.
On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those seeking their destruction. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king's administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful. Esther 9:1-4
When we fast and pray for our workplaces, we pave the way for the righteous to be lifted into places of power and influence, places where unrighteous strongholds are broken by the power of heaven unleashed upon the demonic cordon barring the way. Mordecai's promotion was a victory not only for Mordecai. It was a victory for the entire Jewish nation, resulting in welfare, peace and prosperity.
Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews. Esther 10:3
The elevation of the righteous in the workplace also results in welfare, peace and prosperity for that workplace and the nation. God has always worked through the economy to bless his people. Having unrighteous people in leadership causes a ripple effect tainting anyone invested. Happily, God has a consistent track record of elevating his righteous servants into positions of power and authority. In addition to Daniel, Esther and Mordecai consider Joseph who went from pit to prison to prince, second in command of all
Finally, the eighth effect of fasting is its' extensive influence. Fasting can change an entire kingdom. This was the case in Esther's time and place. "In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them." (Esther 8:17 NASB)
In our workplaces, where there is a hierarchy set up which is not subject to the laws of the
Another example of this is found in the book of Daniel, after Daniel's legendary visit to the lion's den. Daniel had lived a life of fasting and prayer. When his enemies tried to destroy him and he was thrown into a pit of lions, not only did God miraculously save Daniel, He also turned the evil back on the evildoers. He displaced their kingdom with the
Then King Darius wrote:
To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, And steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, And He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. Daniel 6:25-27
When we are in our "Lion's Den" and it appears our enemy has the upper hand, remember how God delivered Daniel. God did not fail him nor will he fail us. God has never failed anyone in the history of the world. Instead God takes our worst nightmare and turns it into our greatest victory. It makes me want to stand up and shout Hallelujah! Fasting is a power tactic that disarms the enemy's weaponry. The structures set up against us are exposed and taken down in, order that God's kingdom and dominion can increase.
Let us review. We fast to gain the favor of those in power, to disturb and move them to action. We fast in order to act in humility, spoil the enemy and turn evil back on itself. We fast to expedite the process of displacing the kingdom that is in the workplace with the kingdom God wants there. We fast to elevate the righteous and extend their authority and influence. The obvious strength of fasting to disarm and pull down strongholds, illustrated by Esther and Daniel, is verification that demands a decision. Are we going to fast? It may be the strongest weapon in our arsenal.
- P R A Y E R -
Dear Lord, You are my King and just as Esther prepared to come into the king's presence, help me by the power of Your Holy Spirit to come into Your Holy Presence. If you want me to enter into a time of fasting, please show me how to go about it and help me to do it in Your strength. May Your will be done in my life and in my work on this earth as it is in heaven. I love You and thank You for Your love for me. In Your name, Jesus, Amen.