Things are bad in my country these days. When I remember the country from the time of my youth and consider it now, the thought that comes to mind is “how far we have fallen”. Corruption, racial disharmony, falling education standards, injustice and religious intolerance all seem to be on the march. Sure the country could be worse but it was certainly once a lot better.
For a number of years now, Christian leaders have been urging Christians to come together and pray and to take part in a 40 day fast for the nation; to cry out for God’s mercy and transformative power to restore the country. In the past, my involvement in this had been rather patchy but this year, I am committed to take this seriously, to be a watchman for the nation as described in the bible (Ezekiel 3). A watchman keeps watch and warns of danger.
Now, I am a novice at fasting. Before this, I have only fasted a couple of times. So, trying to fast for 40 days is a big deal. I mention this not because I am seeking praise or recognition but to encourage all Christians to take on the role of watchmen and to pray for their countries with serious commitment.
How does one fast? Some I know refrain from eating for 24-48 hours at a time while others understand fasting as giving up something for that period like meat or chocolates or these days, even internet. There is nothing magical about the act itself or the form that it takes. My understanding of fasting is to refrain from eating and to give that time over to seek God, to wait on Him, to read His word, to pray and to listen. The key is time in prayer with God.
For me, I try to give up one meal or sometimes two meals a day and spend 1-2 hours in prayer. Currently, I have fasted 6 days out of the first 8 days. Last Sunday, I attended a wedding and dinner and did not fast ……….and last Friday, I gave in to the weakness of my flesh. Ahem.
But what I really want to share with you here is that despite the hunger pangs, it has been a wonderful experience. Whenever we set apart time to be with God, He meets us and even as we pray for transformation and restoration for the country, He transforms and restores us.
So, I urge all Malaysian Christians to make the commitment to join the 40 day prayer and fast; it is our responsibility but it will also be our joy. Most of us find it easy to criticise and to snipe at our leaders and to complain about conditions in our country and yet treat it like it is someone else’s problem and we don’t need to lift a finger. That is wrong. The country’s problems are our problems. We are the country. So instead of criticism and sniping, let us pray for our leaders and our country, for wisdom, integrity, grace and justice for all. (click here to get the NECF booklet that guides our fasting, prayer and reflections for the 40 days)
For readers from other corners of the world, pray too for your own countries and light up the darkness.
For other adventures of a fasting squirrel (some voluntary and some forced), read “Adventures in the Fast Lane“.