Jesus fasted. Jesus answered questions about fasting. Jesus taught about fasting. Here are a couple of Jesus’ thoughts about fasting: “When you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Mt. 6:16-18).
Here Jesus is not condemning the activity of fasting, He is simply condemning the wrong motives by which proud people fasted. Isaiah did the same in Isaiah 58.
“Then they said to Him, ‘Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?’ And He said to them, ‘Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days’” (Luke 5:33-35). The Bridegroom was taken away almost 2,000 years ago. I have to conclude that He expects His present day disciples to fast.
Lord Jesus, sometimes my flesh is so weak! Forgive me for neglecting the opportunity You have provided for me to seek Your face more fully and intimately. I am ashamed that my desire for food is so much stronger than my desire for more of Your heart. Even so, I know that I am Your beloved child. I ask You to teach me to fast in ways that please You…and not to impress others with my spirituality. May my heart be humbled enough to go without that which is essential for life in order to gain a fuller life in Your Presence!
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 17, The Role of Fasting as an Accompaniment to Prayer by Dean Trune). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
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Praise God for his holiness and righteousness. Thank him for promising to work all things together for good. Confess any coldness of heart. Commit yourself to becoming more and more conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Ask God to renew your love for him as it was when you first believed.
Ask God to lay on your heart those for whom he desires you to pray. Request the Holy Spirit to show you how to pray for each person.
“Productive prayer requires earnestness, not eloquence.” —Anonymous
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