With one year winding down and another about to begin, I think it’s always good to look back and reflect on the previous year. Ask yourself, “What went well? What do I wish would have happened differently? What changes do I need to make to have a better year next year?” You may be able to answer the first two pretty quickly, but take your time on the third. I would even recommend fasting and prayer so that you do the right things to get the right result.
When you read the story of Esther, you find that in the first month of the year, Haman sent out a decree to kill all Jews. Her first response was that she couldn’t do anything to change the course of her fate. She opted to stay silent and do nothing out of fear. What her uncle Moredecai knew was that if she did nothing, she would reap the consequences of doing nothing. If there was going to be a change, it required her to do what she had never done. It required great risk.
If you want a greater change in your life, you’re going to have to take a great risk. You can only guess what will result from the changes you make. Esther knew this too. That’s why she didn’t do it without seeking God first and having others pray with her. In Esther 4:16, she sent word to Moredecai saying, “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die” (NLT).
She was willing to risk everything to change everything, but she wasn’t willing to do it without fasting and prayer. If you feel like a major change is needed in your life next year, let me encourage you to seek God through fasting and prayer. Ask Him what you need to risk and change so He can do the miraculous for you. Ask Him to open doors that seem shut. Then, you will have to do what Esther did and take that step of faith that God asks you to do. Esther saved her people, not just because she prayed, but because she took a risk and went before the king uninvited.
I don’t know what stepping in front of a king looks like for you, but God can reveal it to you though fasting and prayer. Hebrews 11 is a chapter that reminds us of people who stepped out in faith and risked everything. They are the ones in the Bible who trusted God above all else, and they took risks without knowing they would get the reward. Verse 6 says, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” If you will have faith and seek God, He will reward your faith.
If you know the story of Esther, you know that after she had been made queen, Haman plotted to kill all of the Jews. Since he was the kings closest advisor, the King agreed to what he suggested. In Esther chapter 4, her uncle Mordecai found out that his race was being targeted for genocide. He responded by mourning and fasting. Somehow Esther had not known about the news. It wasn’t until her maidens saw her uncle weeping they told her about it. She then sent someone to find out why he was in distress.
When Mordecai sent word back, he also told them to tell her that she had a responsibility to go before the King to save her people. Her first response was fear. She told him that she couldn’t go before the King or she would be killed. She must have felt that since she was queen she would be saved from the massacre. Mordecai wouldn’t have any of it. He very frankly told her that if she didn’t respond to the challenge so done else would, but she and her family would perish.
Just like her, you and I face situations in our life that we’d rather ignore and hope they go away. The problem is that they won’t in most cases. The longer we wait to respond to them, the bigger they can get. Our ability to respond has to overcome the fear of the situation. Mordecai also sent the encouraging word, “Who knows? Maybe you’ve been put in this position for such a time as this.” He pointed to God’s providence in her life. He began to see why things had happened the way they had so that she could be the answer.
Where you are today and the situations that you’re facing are not an accident or a surprise to God. He has groomed you and placed you where you are because you have the ability to respond the way He wants you too. You could say it’s your respons-ability. You can say, “But I don’t know how to handle this.” James 1:5 says that if any man lacks wisdom he can ask God for it. Proverbs 15:22 says there is wisdom in a multitude of counsel. You can ask God and or others what to do. Mordecai gave excellent advice to Esther.
We never know why we have the burdens of being in difficult situations. Not responding isn’t the right choice. We have the respons-ability to seek wisdom and to respond in a way that pleases God. Difficult situations require difficult choices. In my own life, it’s been those times that have grown my faith the most. I’ve had to step out in faith and trust that God had my back. Esther did too and her people were saved. Life isn’t easy, but you were made for a purpose and are where God needs you right now in order to respond accordingly. Trust what He says and step out. It may be difficult, but doing what He says is less difficult than the results of disobedience.
I love the story of Esther. There are so many old things in that book that I could go on and on for days. If you aren’t familiar with her story, the king had a beautiful wife and wanted to show her off after partying for seven days. When she refused to be shown off, he killed her. He then held a beauty pageant to find a new queen. Enter Esther. She was an orphan who was raised by her cousin Mordecai. The king loved her more than the others and made her queen.
After some time the king promoted a man named Haman. He was prideful and arrogant. He wanted people to bow to him as he paraded through the streets. Everyone did except Mordecai. Haman was upset, talked to the king and got him to agree to kill all of Mordecai’s race. Mordecai sent word to Esther to see if she could go to the king for help since she was the queen. Esther’s response is what I want to discuss today. She said, “All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless he holds out his golden scepter.”
The God we serve is the King of Kings. He is above all others who are here on this earth. He does not behave like earthly kings though. We don’t have to be afraid to go into His inner court. We do not have to worry about Him killing us if we go before Him without an invitation. In fact, He encourages it. There is nothing that God wants more than for you to pray and go before His throne.
Hebrews 4:16 says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (NLT).” We don’t have to be afraid to enter the throne room of the King of Kings. The scripture says we’ll find both grace and mercy when we do! Esther didn’t think she would receive either when she went before the king. In fact, later on in her conversation, she knew she had to go in there to do something. She said, “Although it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”
When is the last time you went to God that determined with your needs? When is the last time you were willing to risk everything by going to God and entering into His presence to the point that you were willing to die? I think if our prayers had that kind of guts, that kind of determination and that kind of boldness we’d see a lot more answered. Instead our prayers are weak, timid and frail. I’m putting myself in the mix with you. I’m guilty of offering timid prayers.
God honors bold prayers. He honors us if we are willing to go beyond the outer courts of His presence and enter into the inner courts. Hebrews 4:16 ends with “we will find grace when we need it most.” When we need something most, we don’t let barricades stand in our way. We don’t let what others will think of us sway us. We don’t let tradition stop us. We go to God in desperate need with boldness to present our needs. When we do that, He will raise His golden scepter and we will receive mercy.