I am often amazed by the maturity of my ten year old daughter. She is very self-aware, yet on rare occasions she can have an ungrateful attitude. This is not her normal way to operate, so when it happens it catches me off guard. That isn't what amazes me; however, it is when she becomes aware of her attitude and how it is affecting me and my husband. When she begins to notice that her attitude isn't matching what we are doing for her, she will humbly come to me and say, "I'm sorry for my bad attitude, Mom." Of course my heart melts and I have to hug her and let her know how much I love her. My love for her never stopped during her issues and attitude, but her confession and apology just makes me want to hold her. Sometimes fasting is a way to humble ourselves before God and confess our sins. Please look up Nehemiah 9:1-3.
Nehemiah is a rich book of how the wall around Jerusalem was built and how Nehemiah also used those events to bring reform to the community. Leading up to chapter 9, the book explains the process of building the wall and how the Israelites that were allowed to return to Jerusalem were just becoming aware of the law. These were Jews who had lived all their life in captivity, so they had never heard the books of the Law read to them. As they heard the Law, they began to realize how they had not been following the Law. They wanted to make their relationship right with God and after the Festival of the Shelters (chapter 8) they gathered together to hear some more readings of the Law. They prepared by fasting and confessing not only their sin, but the sins of their ancestors.
I believe there are generational sins that will have a hold on a family for several generations. I think becoming aware of those generational sins and confessing and giving them to God is the only way that we can conquer those strongholds. These sins may take the form of substance abuse, child or spouse abuse, racism, and the list can go on. When we become aware of the strongholds those sins have on our family we can break the cycle of sin and come to God for healing. The Israelites wanted to break the bondage of the generational sins of the nation and came humbly to God through fasting, praying, and worship. In Nehemiah 9 :36-37, the Israelites verbalize why they have been living in captivity, "But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress." Fasting is a way where we can set our hearts right with God and He can come to us and show us where we need to change. It is as if it prepares us for the work that God is about to do in our lives.
Do you have generational strongholds that God would like to take out of your life?