40 Days of Discipline

40 Days of Discipline: Day 14 – Fasting


15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”  17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions. (Esther 4:15 – 17)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

Today we turn our attention to the Discipline of Fasting.  Tomorrow we will hold our annual day of fasting for all who are able and willing to give up at least one meal and dedicate extra time to focusing on God. 

In the Old Testament book of Esther, the Jews are facing annihilation unless King Xerxes changes a decree he was advised to enact.  Mordecai, Queen Esther’s father by adoption, wants Queen Esther to use her influence with King Xerxes to cancel the decree.  Queen Esther is reluctant to approach the King without invitation because this could result in a death sentence for her.  Mordecai tells her she can’t remain silent and asks her, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”  A paraphrase of Mordecai’s question could be, if not you, then who?

Our passage for today picks the story up after Queen Esther concludes that she has to follow Mordecai’s instructions, and her response illustrates the importance of fasting.  There are lessons for us as we answer God’s call on our lives and confront inevitable challenges.

Please read the passage above and answer the question below.


What were Esther’s challenges and why do you believe fasting was an appropriate response? 

9 thoughts on “40 Days of Discipline: Day 14 – Fasting

  1. Esther risked her life for meeting the King uninvited and requesting him to reverse a decree. Fasting helps with our focus, dependence and reliance on God. Given what seemed insurmountable tasks, seeking God’s intervention allows for these challenges to be overcome.

  2. Esther is challenged with knowing the Jews might be obliterated and their hope of survival is based on her intervention. The problem is, Esther could be killed for daring to go to the king to ask him to reverse a decree he’s expected to carry out.

    This is a big deal, but Esther has decided to risk her life and approach the king. First, however, she requests that the people she’ll be appealing to the king for, fast for several days. Fasting was an appropriate response because it allows each person to totally focus on God as they prayed for Esther, without distraction.

    Through this time of fasting and praying, Esther hoped God would hear the heart of the people, the king would reverse the decree, and she wouldn’t be killed.

  3. Esther’s decision to do as Mordecai requested would result in sure death, as the custom was you do not approach the king unless he invites you. but as Mordecai pointed out she was placed in the King’s palace for a time like this to protect God’s people. There is added strength in fasting and calling on God’s people to join in fasting, so that we can remove distractions and be totally tuned in to God for His direction and to be in commune with Him every step of the way. We can be assured once our ways are pleasing to God He will answer our prayer according to His Divine will and purpose.

  4. Esther’s challenges were death, upsetting her adoptive father, letting down a nation, responsible for the annihilation of a people, not doing God’s will, not knowing what God really wanted or expected her to do.

    Fasting gave her clarity, stillness to hear from God, focus to sense His support and provide courage.

  5. Esther’s royal position is being challenged and her decision to meet the King without being invited would put her in a very dangerous situation. There is so much at stake as the Jews are facing annihilation unless the king reverse the decree. Esther’s act of fasting is appropriate as it would enable her to pray, reflect and hear the Lord’s respond to her prayer for the people of Israel. Fasting, is also one way to build confidence , and determination for Esther to carryout the request Mordecai had asked her to do.
    I think fasting while praying to God and meditating on His word helps to clear our minds and experience humility as we deprive ourselves of food and water, even just for one meal or one day. Fasting is also like a way to approach God and an act of sacrifice to show seriousness of our need for God’s intervention on certain situation that seemed so difficult to face.

  6. One of the challenges that Esther might have faced is gaining the courage to act counter to her current position. She could have easily disregarded the fate of her people since she might have been excluded from the decree – her position as royalty was something that was to her advantage. However, Esther chose to honor her roots and her people by putting herself in a position equal to them. She fasts and prays alongside them, and then admits to Xerxes that she is Jewish as well. Instead of blissfully ignoring what would happen to her people, she puts herself in peril as an act of love and solidarity.

  7. A few of Esther’s challenges include: 1) she was personally secure because she had not previously disclosure her Jewish ethnicity; 2) since the decree included the death of all Jews, at any point it became known that she was indeed a Jew, she would have been killed to carry out the requirements of the decree; 3) according to the established protocol, there was the possibility that the king could extended the royal sceptre to her even though she was not summoned into his presence; 4) the risk of him choosing to have her killed was just too high for her to depend merely on chance; she recognized that given the extreme options, the intervention of God was definitely needed; and 5) she mobilized the entire Jewish community in that jurisdiction to fast with her regarding the matter.

  8. Esther realized fasting was the only choice she had.
    She could not do this alone.
    She needed God and the help of all the Jews.
    What choice did she have?
    Seems to me. she was destined to do this.

  9. Esther’s challenges were: (1) The possibility of being annihilated (as she was a Jew though secretly hiding her nationality but which at some point could possibly be made known) and (2) Facing the very strong possibility of losing her life if the King did not hold out the royal scepter for her to come into his presence.

    I think fasting was an appropriate response as it is a powerful spiritual weapon that breaks strongholds that otherwise would have remained intact or in control of situations. It helped her to focus on the challenges without fear.

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