Bible Reference: Matthew 6:16-18
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)
Bible Text: 16 “When you fast, don’t look like those who pretend to be spiritual. They want everyone to know they’re fasting, so they appear in public looking miserable, gloomy, and disheveled.[o]Believe me, they’ve already received their reward in full.17–18 When you fast, don’t let it be obvious, but instead, wash your face[p]and groom yourself and realize that your Father in the secret place is the one who is watching all that you do in secret and will continue to reward you openly.”
OBSERVATION: The Word of God is clear that if we publicize that we are fasting, our reward will be nothing more than what we hear back from our audience. That defeats the whole purpose of fasting, for we are dedicating ourselves to petition God for a specific need that we have personally, or corporately. Today, let us consider why we should fast, how should we fast, and what do we expect from a fast.
APPLICATION: I believe that when you look at an entrepreneur starting out in business – one that is pictured in their mind as a unique opportunity to fulfill a specific need for consumers, or industry, or intense profitability, you will hardly see them in their usual places of worship, at events with their family, or just having casual fun. For they are 100% engrossed in making that business succeed, and to be all that they pictured in their minds. So what about the Christian who is desperately seeking God to intervene in their lives personally, or in their family unit, or in their church, or even in their workplace? Does it seem natural to just ask someone else to pray, or casually commit those specific needs in corporate prayer, or even in your personal prayer time, when you tend to cover a wide spectrum of things, and of life itself, before God? I would say yes in all cases, but I would go a step further by sharing what I believe the Bible teaches on fasting and praying. You see, the businessperson spoken of above, will skip meals, miss family events, and more, just to totally dedicate themselves to their new business opportunity. In the life of a Christian, we might casually pray about the weather, or our child in school, etc, but consider how much more intense our prayers become when a loved one is barely hanging on to life, and the doctors are uncertain if they will possibly survive the medical issues they are having. The latter is more of the mindset of a believer when they fast, and dedicate time in prayer over a specific request. For they are willing to forego one or more meals, or perhaps give up caffeine or Facebook, or something that they feel could be sacrificed for dedicated time to plead in prayer before their Maker on a matter of prime importance to them. Think about if friend, what is the most important thing in your life right now? What do you feel is the most critical need in your life, or in the lives of those you care about, and for which you would be willing to do ANYTHING, in order to turn things around in those circumstances? Would you be willing to give up something important to you, just so that you could spend intimate and intense time talking to God about that? The Scripture tells us today that should you consider a fast, it is something that you decide together with God. There is no need to send a note to the local newspapers, or your pastor, or anyone else. For the pat-on-the-back you receive from those around you is the only reward you could expect. A one-on-one, intimate and private relationship with the Creator of the universe, the Savior of the world, our soon coming King, a commitment to commune with Him alone, and a mindset that you are willing to do anything as you seek God about a specific need, is the key to fasting and praying. It’s between you and God – no one else need be involved. Do you have a need of that importance to you today? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to dedicate the time in prayer before God Almighty over that need? What takes place in privacy between you and God, will be rewarded publicly by the King of all kings, according to His promises in His Word!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, it just rolls off our lips without effort or thought, that we will pray for someone. Oh that we may become a people of sincerity, especially in the matters of prayer. When asked to complete chores at home, we don’t look for excuses or distractions, but we seek to serve one another faithfully as we try to please each other in actions and words. The privilege of spending time with You, Almighty God, is beyond our wildest imagination, for who are we that our Creator, who put us together for His glory, should look on us in tender mercy and listen to our petitions. Please forgive us for our littleness, and our insincerity, and our lack of commitment. Lord, we need You every hour of every day, and often a lot more frequently. Please teach us to pray, and help us to see the urgency of prayer before the only One who could make a difference in our lives. May we be willing to give up the world to meet with You, Heavenly Father. You are the only one who could answer our prayers. May we commit to pray, and in times of our deepest need, may we never hesitate to fast and pray. AMEN!