Daily Reflections

Fasting to Repent

October 24, 2022 Erin Davis

Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth— from the greatest of them to the least. —Jonah 3:5

The book of Jonah is one that contains a stark contrast. Jonah, God’s prophet, was content to let his neighbors perish in their sin. But the Ninevites, a pagan people known for their wickedness, responded altogether differently.

Nearly as soon as Jonah called them to repentance, the Ninevites declared a fast. Fasting can never force God’s forgiveness. He gives it freely to all who are willing to turn from their sin (1 John 1:9). But fasting is an outward expression of inward heart change. It’s one way we can express that we agree with God on the seriousness of sin and we are sorry for violating His perfect law.

Can you repent without fasting? Of course. But consider the book of Jonah once more. Whose example do you most want to emulate? The self-righteous prophet who responded to his neighbor’s sin with self-protection? (How’d that work out Jonah?) Or the Ninevites who, once confronted with the reality of their sinfulness, expressed genuine repentance through fasting?

Make it Personal

What are some ways you can outwardly express your inward desire to turn from sin?