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The Spirit of Sackcloth and Ashes Is Much Needed

Updated on August 7, 2020
Cheryl E Preston profile image

Cheryl is a poet, freelance writer, author, and former newspaper columnist. She has degrees in Psychology and Biblical studies

King Hezekiah in sack cloth and ashes.
King Hezekiah in sack cloth and ashes.

Time to humble ourselves

Biblical kings had no trouble humbling themselves, fasting, and praying as they sought the Lord for answers. In 2 Kings 19:1 we read: And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. I Chronicles 21:16 tells us that even the mighty king David humbled himself with his leaders to seek the Lord's intervention. And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. During Biblical times when the people fasted, they put ashes on their foreheads and wore sackcloth which is made from burlap sacks. This was an outward sign of their wailing, moaning, refusing food, and seeking the Lord to intervene in their circumstances. When hard times come, many Christians quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my Name will humble themselves and pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and heal the land. The problem comes in when those who quote it are not sure how to live it.

Repentance is key
Repentance is key

The importance of repentance

We read n Joel 1:13 Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.

14 Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord,

15 Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.

In the Old Testament the leaders often wore sackcloth and ashes as they cried out to the Lord for deliverance but Jesus has given those who follow Him a new command. we are not to put on an outward appearance of fasting but called to do so in private.

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Matthew 6: 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Modern day believers are called to have the spirit of sackcloth and ashes, an humble, and contrite heart. mind and attitude.

Fasting and praying

In our personal lives, we can fast and pray without ever alerting others that we are doing so. We can live with an attitude of submissiveness to the Lord, and if we must weep and wail it should be done in our secret closet. Every person who has accepted Christ and is filled with His Spirit has the potential to become a powerful person through private fasting and praying. We live in a time where too many believers are caught up in megachurches, celebrity preachers, entertainment, and titles. Instead of being in awe of other people, we should be in awe of Christ and what He did on Calvary. Our lifestyles should reflect that we fast and pray, rather than calling for prayer and fasting after tragedies. We should always be energized and ever ready by keeping the focus on Him. James 4:6 tells us that He gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. Many preachers today don't teach humility but instead, tell believers that God owes them riches and factor because they tithe and they were their pastor. Walking around proclaiming you are a King's kid, blessed and highly favored is not an humble spirit. Working in the church, serving you leader and even being an armor bearer has no bearing on your personal walk with Christ. Make it personal today by doing it His way.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Cheryl E Preston


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    • sangre profile image

      Sp Greaney 

      5 weeks ago from Ireland

      I think sometimes the meaning of faith gets lost along the way. People only return to it in the bad times and if your leader is no good, then you won't stay.

    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      5 weeks ago from Roanoke

      I’m so sorry you had that experience. I’ve encountered the same.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      5 weeks ago from SW England

      I have known ministers, one in particular, who were not nice men at all. He made me feel awful and didn't help when I needed it. He was ill but I didn't think that justified his treatment of me and my family. They are in a position of example and humility, not of judgement and punishment.

      Good article.


    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      5 weeks ago

      Humility is sadly lacking in many churches, at a time when it is most important.


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