Reminder: Yesterday was all about love. We’re re- turning to our first love. The bottom line on this Reset is the fanning of our affections for the Lord Jesus and people everywhere.
Today let’s look at the gracious gift of fasting. Jesus has given it to us for at least two leading reasons: It enables us to intensify our pursuit of righteousness, and it sensitizes our hearts to receive more from God.
“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.” (Matt 6:17-18)
Jesus taught that fasting is a secret part of our prayer life.
Jesus said, When you fast. He seemed to assume it would happen, which means it’s normative to a disciple’s prayer life.
He emphasized that He wants us to practice fasting in secret. We don’t do it to show others how devout we are, but to express to Jesus how we desire Him. It’s for His eyes only.
Fasting is not easy. It’s tough on the appetite, the body, and the soul. It requires holy courage. So let me encourage you by showing the vital role fasting played in the life of a man named Cornelius.
So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing.” (Acts 10:30)
Cornelius was a Roman army captain and a Gentile (that is, not a Jew). God chose his household to become the first Gentile Christians. Through Cornelius, the door of the gospel opened to the entire world. (The story is in Acts 10—it’s a fascinating read.)
Why did God choose Cornelius to trigger the global spread of the gospel? We seem to find the answer in these four qualities of his life: He feared God (Acts 10:2), he prayed (Acts 10:2), he fasted (Acts 10:30), and he gave alms to the poor (Acts 10:2). God exported the piety represented by those four qualities to every nation on earth.
Fasting helped position Cornelius to be a play er in a historic transition heaven was bringing to earth—the inclusion of the Gentiles in the family of God.
PRAY: Ask the Lord to reproduce in you these same four qualities: godly fear, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
I humbled myself with fasting. (Ps 35:13)
David wrote about fasting:
Fasting is a biblical way to humble ourselves. We fast because we believe His promise that He releases more grace to the humble (1 Pet 5:5).
There are many “soft” ways to fast—such as fasting social media or sugar. But even though it’s “hard,” consider a water fast (or as close to a water fast as your doctor will approve). Go for it.
Feel free to inch your way forward. Perhaps begin by fasting dinner, and then next time do more. Want a suggestion? Try something like this:
◆ Fast for 24 hours.
◆ If possible, do water only (consult your doctor).
◆ Plan it for a day when your schedule will allow more time for prayer.
PRAY. Do you want to plan a fast? Then write down the answers the Lord seems to give to the following questions:
1. For how long shall I plan to fast?
2. What kind of fast will it be? Water only? Juice only? What else shall I fast, such as media, etc.?
3. What date will the fast happen?
4. From what responsibilities can I free myself that day so I can devote myself more fully to prayer?
5. Will I spend part of the day in solitude?
6. Do I want to invite anyone to join me? If so, who?
7. What am I asking of God as I step into this fast?
After it’s over, journal your experiences. What worked well for you, and what will you change next time? What was your strongest benefit?
As you go now, ask Him for grace to fast.
RESET: 20 Ways to a Consistent Prayer Life Copyright © 2018 by Bob Sorge Published by Oasis House
Reproduced with permission.
For information on all Bob’s books, go to www.oasishouse.com