Prayer and fasting
We often pray: “I want to be more like Jesus”; although our thoughts tend to exclude suffering and fasting. We are not likely to do 40 days of fasting from food and water; however followers of Jesus Christ are expected to fast. Why? Immediately after Jesus instructs on prayer he talks about fasting as if they are joined together. Jesus said (Matthew 6): “17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
We notice that in both cases of prayer and fasting; the person is rewarded for their secret service. Just like giving; if we do these things without announcing, there is a reward; although we are not told what the reward will be. We must assume the prayer is more effective and it might also have something to do with storing up treasures in Heaven. In addition, there are specific cases where fasting is essential; for example when the disciples could not drive out an evil spirit; Jesus told them it needed prayer and fasting (Mk 9).
Fasts in the Old Testament were often in response to calamities and were to demonstrate humility and repentance. Likewise, Jesus said there would be an appropriate time for his disciples to fast (Mt 9:15), referring to His absence as the bridegroom.
We have the opportunity to do this as a church family on Saturday 25th this month. I believe we are in desperate need of our God, perhaps a rekindling of our first love for God (Rev 2:4). For some it will be a whole day without food; for others it might be no coffee or no media. There are several ways to deny the common luxuries of life; but in essence we are calling for a new attitude and a new felt hunger for God.
We will be calling out for His presence to permeate every part of our life and church. Why? So we can better love God and love people.