40 Days of Prayer and Fasting – Day 3 – Rend Your Heart

Ever since I was little, I knew that fasting was in the Bible. I considered it a powerful tool that the people of God used in their most dire times. As I grew into an adult, I would talk about fasting, telling people that I thought that it was really important to do, but funny thing is- I never fasted. Here is an honest confession. Years ago, I started a Facebook group called praying and fasting for revival. When I was moderating this group, I never actually fasted. It seemed so hard- so out of reach. Was it really necessary? Why did it seem so difficult? I felt like a hypocrite. (Well, I kind of was.) 🙂

Years later, I am right smack dab in the middle of middle age and I am just getting this fasting thing down. Not only have I drawn closer to the Lord in all of it, I am seeing more and more power from God in my prayers. I am also able to receive things he wants to speak to me, when I am in the Word. My spiritual hearing is much more in tune with the heart of God.

Since that time, we have called corporate ministry fasts. My ministry also encourages people to participate in private individual fasts. I cannot tell you how exciting and encouraging it is to have an accountability partner who prays with you and fasts with you. I highly recommend!

There were many things that kept me from fasting, including my love for eating and a feeling like I just couldn’t go without food. I also believed the lie that fasting was somehow legalistic and if I wanted to fast, I must be getting legalistic. (This is interesting, because there is fasting recorded all through the New Testament. The New Testament saints definitely fasted.) The devil really did all he could to stop me from this very elementary spiritual discipline.

However, when 3 years ago my friend Barb encouraged me to fast and we started fasting together, I had a whole new view of fasting. It was not as difficult as I imagined! It was even powerful and rewarding! Let’s look at this large prophecy in Joel 2 about fasting. This is a long chapter, so buckle up. The beginning talks about the coming of the day of the Lord, the middle part of God’s people’s response with fasting and the ending is God’s response when his people fast and repent, rending their hearts.

An Army of Locusts

(locusts always represent judgement in scripture)

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    sound the alarm on my holy hill.

Let all who live in the land tremble,
    for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
    a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
    a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
    nor ever will be in ages to come.

Before them fire devours,
    behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
    behind them, a desert waste—
    nothing escapes them.
They have the appearance of horses;
    they gallop along like cavalry.
With a noise like that of chariots
    they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
    like a mighty army drawn up for battle.

At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
    every face turns pale.
They charge like warriors;
    they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
    not swerving from their course.
They do not jostle each other;
    each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
    without breaking ranks.
They rush upon the city;
    they run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
    like thieves they enter through the windows.

10 Before them the earth shakes,
    the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
    and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders
    at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
    and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
    it is dreadful.
    Who can endure it?

Rend Your Heart

Joel 2:12  “Even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

13 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
    and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
    for the Lord your God.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
    declare a holy fast,
    call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people,
    consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
    gather the children,
    those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
    and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
    weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord.
    Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
    a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
    ‘Where is their God?’”

The Lord’s Answer

18 Then the Lord was jealous for his land
    and took pity on his people.

19 The Lord replied[a] to them:

“I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil,
    enough to satisfy you fully;
never again will I make you
    an object of scorn to the nations.

20 “I will drive the northern horde far from you,
    pushing it into a parched and barren land;
its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea
    and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea.
And its stench will go up;
    its smell will rise.”

Surely he has done great things!
21     Do not be afraid, land of Judah;
    be glad and rejoice.
Surely the Lord has done great things!
22     Do not be afraid, you wild animals,
    for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green.
The trees are bearing their fruit;
    the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.
23 Be glad, people of Zion,
    rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given you the autumn rains
    because he is faithful.
He sends you abundant showers,
    both autumn and spring rains, as before.
24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
    the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
    the great locust and the young locust,
    the other locusts and the locust swarm[b]
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
    and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
    who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,
    that I am the Lord your God,
    and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.

The Day of the Lord

28 “And afterward,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your old men will dream dreams,
    your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will show wonders in the heavens
    and on the earth,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
    there will be deliverance,
    as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
    whom the Lord calls.[c]

Joel Chapter 2 is one of the most famous Old Testament passages, because it prophesied about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the believers at Pentecost. However, reading in context- this isn’t just about Pentecost. Although, Peter did stand up at Pentecost and proclaimed to Jerusalem that Joel 2 was being fulfilled before their very eyes. Most prophetic scripture has layers of fulfillment. You see this in Matthew 24 where Jesus’ prophecies are about the destruction of Jerusalem and also the end of days. The entire chapter of Joel 2 is also a prophecy about the “day of the Lord” when God judges the earth. We see the response of the people of God. When they see the day of judgement approaching and they do several things:

  1. They call a sacred assembly.
  2. They fast and pray together. This isn’t private prayer and fasting for breakthrough-this is public- for the whole nation to participate together.
  3. Rend your hearts. People in Joel’s time in history would show their great grief over sin or a national crisis by tearing their clothes in front of people. God, however, is looking for people who will pour out their hearts before the Lord, in tears of repentance and turning from wickedness. Rending of the heart doesn’t just imply changed behavior- it is an agony over sin and depravity that cause evil behavior in the first place. James chapter 4 verses 7-10 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

The Lord wants us to humbly submit to him and to rend our hearts over bad attitudes, complaining, hatred, fear, pride, greed, vanity, faithlessness, lust and other self-centered sins. Fasting is the perfect tool for this, because the flesh is weak. It is giving up our rights to food, instead of living in the cravings of the flesh.

When we stand together with our brothers and sisters in Christ in a holy fast, we are following the Lord’s guidelines for healing, repenting from sin, and receiving power from on high. God will meet us. In fact, God gives an encouraging prophecy to Joel, at the end of the passage. God says he will repay the years the locusts have eaten! Locusts refer to judgements of God. God will repay. God also will pour out his Spirit on all flesh in the end. “

The Day of the Lord

28 “And afterward,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your old men will dream dreams,
    your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will show wonders in the heavens
    and on the earth,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
    there will be deliverance,
    as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
    whom the Lord calls.[c]

Let’s take time today to pray and rend our hearts before the Lord! You can use the following prayer guide from day 1, or you can spend time crying out to God to deliver you from your sin, to pray for the heart of the nation to be softened and to pray for loved ones to repent. Rending the heart could take some time.

  1. Praise- Spend time praising the Lord for his character, his love, his faithful and anything else the Lord brings to mind.
  2. Lift up the name of Jesus. It is through the name of Jesus that we come into the throne room of God with confidence.
  3. Your kingdom come Lord, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Spend time praying for God’s will to be done in your life. Pray for his kingdom to be built in your family, your church, your community, your state and your nation. Pray God’s kingdom will come in power in your life.
  4. Lord, provide for my needs. I thank you for knowing what my needs are- even when I don’t know what they are. Praise the Lord for his provision and his continued provision in your life. Ask the Lord to teach you and lead you by his Spirit, if he wants you to make any preparations for the uncertain times we are living in.
  5. Repentance and Release- Spend time on this one! Pray for the Lord to reveal to you any people you need to release from grudges, unforgiveness or even people that you need to love better. Release those you have been angry with in the name of Jesus. Ask the Lord to reveal any sin in your own life and spend time wrestling with him in prayer, confessing your sin and asking God to forgive you. Spend time on this one! Pray. Cry. Struggle. This is the rending of the heart!
  6. Pray for protection against the evil one. Pray “Lead me not into temptation!” Ask the Lord to give you power through the Holy Spirit to overcome the wiles of the devil and the temptations of the flesh in the name of Jesus.
  7. Ask the Lord to fill you with the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation so you can know him personally and intimately. Ask the Lord to open the eyes of your heart to his hope and to understand your inheritance in the Saints.
  8. Spend time in worship. Thank the Lord for his power through his resurrection. Lift up the name of Jesus!
  9. Ask the Lord to direct you in your fast, to use the fast to his glory, to strengthen you through it, to speak to you through it and to break down strongholds in your life and in your family.
  10. Pray for the persecuted church.
  11. Pray for the lost. Ask the Lord to bring in the harvest and to send out more people into his harvest field. Ask the Lord to use you to bring in the harvest and to bring people to you who need him and are ripe for the harvest of salvation into his kingdom.
  12. Pray for God to expose corruption in the government and to expose sin in the Body of Christ. Ask the Lord to clean his house.
  13. Pray that the Lord dismantles the devil’s attacks and plans for you, for the church and for the nation. Plead the blood of Jesus over your family and home.
  14. Spend time in closing interceding for anyone in distress in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.
  15. In closing, spend time worshiping the Lord!

3 Replies to “40 Days of Prayer and Fasting – Day 3 – Rend Your Heart”

  1. Thank you! So appropriate for this time and especially today as Christians come together from around the country to pray in Washington DC today. God’s timing never ceases to amaze me!

    Liked by 1 person

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