New Testament Journey – Day 20. Matthew 6:13-15 – Jesus teaches about fasting.
Fasting – going without food in order to spend time in prayer – is noble and difficult. It gives us time to pray, teaches self-discipline, reminds us that we can live with a lot less, and helps us appreciate God’s gifts. Jesus was not condemning fasting in these verses, but rather hypocrisy – fasting in order to gain public approval. Fasting was mandatory for the Jewish people once a year on the Day of Atonement. The Pharisees voluntarily fasted twice a week to impress the people with their “holiness”. Jesus commended acts of self-sacrifice done quietly and sincerely. He wanted people to adopt spiritual disciplines for the right reasons, not from a selfish desire for praise and attention-seeking. (Taken from my Life Application Study Bible).
In the bible in Matthew 17:21 it talks about the only way to cast out that type of demon is by prayer and fasting. To me, this indicates the power of combining prayer and fasting. We were on a corporate fast once at the church I used to attend. I remember Pastor Lawrence saying “You want to cast out demons but you can’t even turn down a cupcake.” We all laughed, but that stuck with me… of course it’s the day you decide to fast in private that someone brings in donuts for the first time in months to work! I remember walking past the box of donuts in the breakroom that day and wanting one so bad – but I remembered what Lawrence said and I sucked it up and walked on by. And man oh man, for a second, my flesh screamed! (They were the filled long johns with chocolate icing! Of course my flesh screamed I love those!) But then, that feeling of empowerment came. The feeling you get when you make the right choice to deny your flesh and seek God harder than ever. I felt like I could cast out a demon in that moment. There is empowerment in denying your flesh of things that are harmful. Not just donuts – but those temptations to sin that so many find themselves aimlessly stepping into.
I had a friend who so humbly, and silently fasted one day a week and used that time to pray for others. I have another friend who reached out to me once and said “I know what you are going through with your son. I’m fasting and praying for him -and for you.” Those are the kind of friends you want in your circle. And that’s the kind of friend we need to be. Have you seen the theme throughout the last 20 days on this journey? Jesus looks on a mans heart. What’s our motive for doing what we do? Would we do it even if no one was watching?
Is your heart right with God? Have you accepted Jesus into your heart and are you allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you? If not – there is no better time than now to get your heart right with God.
Happy Wednesday Friends! We’re halfway to Friday!! Be blessed today and stay warm.