All this week I have studied examples of how the Israelites (and Assyrians) used fasting to confess their sin before God. Today I want to look how Nehemiah heard some difficult news about Jerusalem and the exiles who were able to return there. Please turn to Nehemiah 1.
Nehemiah served as the cup bearer for the king of Persia. He asked his brother how the state of Jerusalem and the exiles were doing. He heard that the city was in disarray and that the people were in danger because the walls were broken down. This brought Nehemiah to a state of mourning, fasting and crying. When he was done fasting, he prayed to God to give him the king's ear, but he did this after confessing the sins of the Israelites before him. He reminded God of the promises he spoke about the exiles if they would turn back to Him. Please look at Isaiah 58:12 and see what God promises when the Israelites would turn back to Him and obey and live the way God called them to live.
Praise God that He gives us promises! Nehemiah reminded Him that He would turn them into "Repairers of Broken Walls" when they turned to Him. Nehemiah knew that it would have to start with someone and he felt the burden to get it done. Reading through the book of Nehemiah, we see that they did indeed rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and they also had a desire to follow the law to please God. Before Nehemiah even asked God for this favor, he prepared by fasting. I believe that the act of mourning and fasting helped prepare his heart to confess the sins of the nation.
Have you fasted and prayed for your country?