Today is the final day of our corporate fast. We have centered these days on 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This passage was an exhortation to God’s people and is equally relevant for us today as we seek to respond by humbling ourselves, praying and repenting.
Repentance means to change.
It is the act of turning away from our will and instead embracing God’s. Repentance is an internal act that transforms external behavior, and it is at the very heart of what it means to be the Church.
Acts 2 begins by describing how the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples after a period of prayer and waiting. A large crowd gathered to see the commotion and Peter stood up to preach the gospel. As he preached, God stirred people’s hearts and they began crying out, asking how what they must do in response.
Peter’s reply is important. He immediately told the desperate crowd to repent and be baptized. Baptism, though common to us today, had previously been an initiation ceremony for Gentiles who wanted to convert to Judaism. This is what made the ministry of John the Baptist so shocking— he taught that Jews, God’s people, needed baptism just as much as a foreigner. In other words, a person’s spiritual heritage was not enough; everyone needed to repent and turn.
Peter picked up this same theme. Standing in front of him were representatives from countless nations gathered together and he gave everyone the same command: repent and be baptized. We all must turn away from our sin and turn toward Jesus. Though baptism is a one-time act, repentance is a lifestyle. It is a continuous turning back to Jesus and away from our own ways.
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit sparked a revival that continues to this very day. Throughout history, genuine revival movements have always begun by people giving themselves to repentance. When we encounter his holiness, we start to see our sin for what it really is. Church history is filled with revival stories in which people wept for hours under the fear of the Lord and began confessing sin so they might be free.
The power of repentance is found not in our own introspection or self-criticism; instead, repentance causes us to recognize the destruction of our sin but even more so, it leads us into an encounter with grace. Too often we minimize the power of grace because we fail to understand the true nature of sin.
The grace of Jesus alone can set us free.
Repentance, like fasting, is uncomfortable. It forces us to confront our weakness and sin while we live surrounded by a culture that instead prefers to celebrate our strength.
In this season of Lent, repentance lifts our gaze to the Cross, so that we might understand the weight of sin placed upon Jesus’s shoulders. This journey is not easy, but repentance also leads us to an empty tomb and to the revelation that we are forever freed from sin and death, and that we have become a new creation.
We encourage you today to embrace repentance as we close this time of pasting and prayer. Then, as you break your fast this evening, celebrate God‘s provision—of food but even more so of His grace. Let’s believe together for healing for our land as we, the people called by His name, turn back to Him.
Read this article for more tips for a great fast.
Here’s a crafted prayer centered on 2 Chronicles 7:14 to pray throughout the day as we humble ourselves, pray and repent through this fast.
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