We did it! Thank you for joining us this last week, fasting, and praying with us. I’m excited to see what God will do with our offering. If you missed it, no worries! You can fast at any time. I know for many of you, this was your first time fasting. Congratulations! I’m so proud of you. And I’m so grateful for you coming alongside us in praying for the ministry.
I feel bad about my fast
I also heard from some of you who tried, but couldn’t make it the full day. That’s ok! God isn’t disappointed in you. He knew what would happen before you began. Our walk with the Lord is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s our hearts that count. God knows you tried! Keep trying. I suggest next that you begin slowly, just cutting out one meal on the day of your fast, and dedicate that time to praying. Set yourself up for success. Do it intentionally. God will honor your effort. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you. The moment we go all-in for the Lord, the enemy comes against us. But as we persevere, we get stronger and better able to defend against the attacks. You’ll get there. Don’t give up!
In John 17:20-23, Jesus is praying for us, long before we were born! The Lord is still answering that prayer 2,000 years later. Our prayers can continue to be answered long after we’re gone. No prayer you pray is ever wasted.
I know many of you love delving into the significance of numbers in scripture! Jack got many of us interested in this. When friends and I were talking about being led to fast for the ministry and trying to discern the day, one friend suggested we hold it over a full week. A week gives everyone the ability to choose the day that works for them and also covers the ministry for an entire week of prayer and fasting.
When I posted the call, I wrote Wednesday to Wednesday. Eight days! I had meant to post seven days. Seven is spiritual perfection (On the 7th day God rested from creating, all the 7s John uses in his gospel, 7 letters to 7 churches in Revelation. It’s such a good number!). That’s what I meant to do! I only realized yesterday that I chose eight days. Jack’s favorite book on the significance of numbers is by EM Bullinger titled Number in Scripture. In it, Bullinger explains the significance of 8 in scripture is “to superabound.” He continues, “It is the number of new beginnings. Seven means that which is spiritually complete or satisfying, while eight denotes that which is superabundant or satiating.” I pray our prayers and our relationship with the Lord are both superabundant and satiating.
To conclude our focused time of prayer and fasting, I’m excited to share with you what’s been on my heart this week. There’s a Hebrew word I’ve been obsessed with for a few years. Hineni (hee-nay-nee). It’s translated “Here I am,” and it’s used 17 times in the Old Testament. It’s not a simple, “I’m over here” response. It means “I’m presenting myself to You, already in agreement with whatever You’ll ask of me.” Responding hineni shows your total availability to the caller. In Isaiah 6:8, God asks, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? Isaiah replied hineni. Here I am. Send me! When God calls to Moses from the burning bush, Moses responds, hineni. When Samuel wakes up to the Lord calling his name, he replies, hineni. When God is about to ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, he answers hineni. Each time, it signifies a turning point. Those who respond are never the same afterward.
Hineni is how I want to respond every time the Lord calls me. It’s so beautiful, and when I learned it, I started beginning my prayers with hineni. Here I am already in agreement with whatever You’ll ask of me. It feels like I’m praying backward, beginning with my amen to God. And it has transformed how I pray.
Here I am. All of me. Not just physically present. Hineni is about our entire selves, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It has a heart position of, “before you even ask, I say yes to you, Lord. Whatever you ask of me, I’m already in agreement with it.” Hineni is a response that shows our trust in and vulnerability with the caller. When God calls our names, and we respond, hineni, we are saying we trust Him so much we are ready to do anything He asks without knowing beforehand what it is. It shows the vulnerability and trust in a beautiful love relationship. It shows that our hearts are available to the One who loves us most. With hineni, we make ourselves, our whole selves available to the Lord.
I don’t think God is ever looking for the most skilled or the most talented. He’s looking for the most available. He’s looking for the heart that is ready at any moment to say hineni. Just as much as God wants us to be available to Him, He wants to be available to us as well! Let’s dive into the time Abraham replied hineni to God, and then I’ll show you when God says hineni to us!
Abraham and Isaac
We’re in Genesis 22:1-19. Before God tells Abraham to take Isaac up the mountain and sacrifice him, God calls to Abraham, and Abraham answers, Hineni. Here I am, Lord, already in agreement with whatever you’ll ask of me. Before God asked, Abraham trusted God completely and lived ready to do anything God would ask of him.
When they arrive at the mountain, Abraham gives Isaac the wood, he carries the fire and knife himself, and they begin walking toward what the Lord has asked of them.
When they arrive, Isaac calls to his dad, saying, “Father ?” Abraham replies Hineni, B’ni, Here I am, my son, already in agreement with whatever you’ll ask of me. (Genesis 22:7)
Abraham and Isaac were united in this commitment to the Lord. The word for together in Genesis 22:8 means united and comes from a root word that means to become as one. And the word we translate boy in Genesis 22:5 refers to someone of military age, which was a man between 18-30 years old.
They were united as one together in doing what the Lord asked of them. But if his son changed his mind and was unwilling, would Abraham have continued? I believe, just as Jesus was our willing sacrifice, so too Isaac had to do this willingly.
We know from Hebrews 11:17-19 that Abraham had reasoned that God would raise Isaac from the dead to fulfill His promise. Jack explains important details in his excellent article on Abraham and Isaac, the adult version of this story. (Of all his writings, I think Jack’s Bible Stories for Adults are my favorite.) He shows the fascinating parallel between what God asked of Abraham and what He would later do to Himself.
Jack believed in those three days it took to arrive at the mountain, that God must have revealed His plan to Abraham, enabling him to say to his servants that He and Isaac would worship and then come back to them. (Genesis 22:6-8) But I wonder. Not once in my walk with the Lord has He explained things to me along the way. The Lord has asked for my hineni, my yes first, my trust fully in Him. Sometimes He reveals it to me after, but in that messy middle where things look scary and unsure, God has reassured me, not by telling me how it all works out, but by reminding me my trust is in Him, who is ever faithful. So, I wonder if the trust Abraham and Isaac had in He who is ever faithful, was enough to get them through those three days. They knew God was faithful. They knew He would provide; they just didn’t know how. And Abraham reasoned that, if nothing else, God could raise Isaac from the dead.
The third time hineni is said in this passage, Isaac is bound and on the altar, and Abraham’s knife is over him. But the angel of the Lord (the angel of the Lord refers to pre-incarnate Jesus) called out to Abraham from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham,” and Abraham replied, hineni. Here I am, already in agreement with, and ready and willing to do whatever you ask of me. The Lord stopped Abraham and provided a ram for the sacrifice.
I love this passage, where Abraham and his son are united in their love and trust of the Lord. Each step they had to remind themselves Who they serve and what kind of God He is.
And we see the Lord’s response to this kind of trust and availability in Genesis 22:15-18. Because you have withheld nothing from Me, in blessing, I will bless you.
God says hineni to us!
Can you believe that God says hineni to us as well? In Isaiah 58, which many of you have been reading throughout the week of our fast, the Israelites are asking God why He isn’t responding when they are fasting for Him. And He replies, explaining that fasting isn’t just about not eating. That the position of their hearts toward Him and each other matters. We can’t work or sacrifice for God with hearts that aren’t focused on Him and on loving each other. (Matthew 5:24) Our relationship with God matters. How we treat each other matters. We are to choose humility every day, not just on a special day when we want something from the Lord.
Isaiah 58:5-9. I’ll post these verses here, but the whole chapter is so good, you’ll want to read all of it!
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Hineni.
Dear ones, it doesn’t get better than that. When we’re doing the Lord’s will as above, we will cry out to Him, and He’ll say, Here I am, ready and willing, already in agreement with whatever you’ll ask of me. So so good. So we submit our requests to Him, that we will see Rukku return safe and sound, that no one will starve on our watch during this pandemic, that we will be the hands and feet of Jesus, loving and serving all He places in front of us. (See all our requests and prayers here)
My prayer for myself, for you, and this whole community, is that we will be a people who hear the Lord call our names and we respond without hesitation, hineni.