Fasting and Mourning for Days

Fasting, mourning along with prayer

In light of the shootings in our schools, Nehemiah is a good example for us to follow. He mourned and fasted over the state of Jerusalem. How often do you hear of people fasting, mourning, and praying over a tragic situation? Well, people do hold prayer vigils but those often only last a day or so.

Nehemiah is an Example of Fasting & Mourning

Nehemiah was the cup-bearer to the Persian King Artaxerxes during the time that the people of Israel were beginning to return to Jerusalem. The cupbearer was a noble position. This was a place of trust and close connection to the King. He would be the one to taste the King’s food and drink to prevent the King from being poisoned.

With that being said, when we read the book of Nehemiah Chapter 1 and 2 we read about the character of the cup-bearer. In chapter one, he had heard from a man from Judah that Jerusalem was in bad shape. “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” Nehemiah 1:3 ESV

His Reaction to Tragic News

His response was immediate. He sat down and wept and mourned for days. Not only that but he continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. This man must have known the scriptures for he prayed mightily. “O LORD God of Heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant and steadfast love…” 1:5 ESV

Furthermore, he must have been in mourning and fasting for close to four months. In chapter 2, much time had passed since Nehemiah had received the troubling news. His countenance must have been downcast for even the King noticed that his cup-bearer was not happy. It was customary in those days for the servants to be happy in their service and could be punished if they were not.

Yet, the King had respect for His cup-bearer and wanted to know why he was sad and what could be done. The king’s servant made a quick prayer and then answered the king. There were several requests that the cupbearer made and each one the king gave.

What Can We Learn From His Example?

Well, I will be the first one to admit that I don’t stop and mourn when I hear the tragic news. It does sadden me but only for a while. I need to desire to be like the cup-bearer and not only mourn but also fast and pray before my God, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments.

Therefore, maybe churches might encourage their members to fast and pray on the behalf of those who lost loved and for our nation. So the next time you hear of a tragedy what will you do?

Related post: Let’s Feast on God’s Word

Related Link on Fasting: 12 Reasons to go Hungry


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  1. This was so true! We are so desensitized to tragedy that we mourn but for a short time when in reality we should really grieve, pray, and fast. I’m so glad you shared this.

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