INTRO TO PRAYER
WHY FAST & PRAY?
In Luke chapter 5, Jesus’ ministry is growing. He’s recruiting disciples, calling people to follow him, and going from town to town performing miracles. Word about him is spreading, yet right in between him healing a man with leprosy and calling a paralyzed man to get up and walk, a statement is made so quickly that if we blink we might miss it.
BUT JESUS OFTEN WITHDREW TO LONELY PLACES & PRAYED.
- LUKE 5:16
WHY IS IT SO HARD TO PRAY?
Is it because we don’t know how?
Is it because we don’t find it important?
Is it because we allow ourselves to get so busy that prayer is often the first thing to get cut?
I don’t know, but if Jesus made it a priority to pray, so should we.
Jesus also made fasting a priority. Biblically, fasting is abstaining from food for a certain period of time in order to seek God in prayer. It is an intentional denial of the FLESH in order to see a response in the SPIRIT. And in Matthew 4, before Jesus ever performed a miracle or preached a sermon, we see him spend 40 days in the wilderness in prayer and FASTING. When talking to his disciples about fasting in Matthew 6:16, he says, “WHEN you fast…” Fasting was normal; it was expected.
WHY HAS FASTING BECOME SO ABNORMAL?
Is it because we live in such a self-gratifying culture?
Is it because everything we could ever want can be ours at the touch of a button?
Is it because, over time, we have lost the value of sacrifice?
Again, maybe, but if Jesus made it a priority to fast, so should we.
Many of us probably wish that prayer and fasting were a lot easier, like they were something we couldn’t wait to do. What if we counted down the minutes until our days at work could end so we could hop in our cars and just get alone with God? What if we made fasting such a normal and regular part of our lives that we looked forward to the skipped meals and intentional moments of seeking the face of God? What if prayer and fasting were things that we DELIGHTED in?
Author J. I. Packer said that “Prayer is finding our way through duty to delight.” Oftentimes, the things that we delight in are the things that we have committed to the discipline of forming as consistent habits. Very few people delighted in going to the gym when they first started. It was a discipline; a necessary duty. But over time, delight begins to form. That doesn’t mean it suddenly becomes an easy thing to do every single day, but it does become something that we look forward to because we know the impact it has on us. The same can be said about prayer and fasting, if we’ll just commit to the discipline of them.
So, how can we form the discipline of prayer and fasting? Well, Jesus already gave us a pretty good model when he gave us “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6. What would it look like if we just simply made this model of prayer our model for the week? And what if, while we prayed, we committed also to the discipline of fasting?
“THIS, THEN, IS HOW YOU SHOULD PRAY: ‘OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME, YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD. AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS, AS WE ALSO HAVE FORGIVEN OUR DEBTORS. AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE.’”