Day 47 – When Jesus Prays — Part 6

Romans 8:34 — “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

Hebrews 7:25 — “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

Jesus is Risen! He is alive! And what is he doing with his time? Golfing on the heavenly back nine? Singing with the angels in chorus? Standing as an all time worship figurine? He is praying for us. We often talk about prayer as a way to intercede for others. But what does that mean? Well let’s look at a couple of words, Precede means to “go before.” Recede is to “go back” (someone that is going bald has a receding hairline). Concede means to “go along with.” Intercede means to “go between.” When we pray/intercede for someone we are going between, God and that person. We are asking God on behalf of that person or family to step in and act, to bring healing, strength, mercy, joy, love.

Jesus brought us forgiveness through His sacrifice on the cross, and now that God raised Him from the dead, He is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Jesus is praying for us! Going in between God and us, standing in the gap, asking God to complete us, perfect us, mature us, and protect us. Jesus has not stopped working for us! He is still at work on our behalf, and He knows what we need even before we ask.

So, when you think you’ve blown it, messed up your testimony, stumbled in sin again (and again)…Jesus is praying for you. When you think you can’t go on anymore, someone has hurt you, you’re all alone…Jesus is praying for you. In any and every situation, Jesus is praying for you. That is why Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14) Jesus, is ready for your prayers, and he will ask the Father on your behalf. When Jesus prays, he prays for you.

Father, today will You please tell Your Son, thank You. Please thank Him for offering His body for mine and for purchasing salvation for me. Jesus, please tell Abba (daddy) that I am so grateful for His acceptance of Your sacrifice. Please ask Daddy to forgive me for my sinful heart. Please ask Him to help me in my weakness and give me His divine wisdom for every move I make. Please tell Him I love Him, even when my actions say otherwise. Today I am overwhelmed by Your amazing love for me. Help me continue to live in faith at all times in my life. Father, I love You. Jesus, I love You. Holy Spirit, I love You. You are high and lifted up, mighty to save, and glorious! I worship You and glorify You Father in the Name of Your Son Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Day 46 – When Jesus Prays — Part 5

Luke 23:34-35 — Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

Jesus on the cross. God himself, clothed in human flesh, taking our place and paying the penalty for all the sins of humankind. What an amazing picture of God’s love for us. I am still amazed at this picture of God’s love today. Jesus, thank you.

As Jesus begins to labor for breath, every agonizing draw of air tearing more of his flesh, every slight move putting more pressure on the nails in his hands and feet — Jesus says an incredibly brief prayer for those present at this event of torture…“Father, forgive them.”

The crux of all Christianity is forgiveness. Divine forgiveness imparted to all mankind, yes, but more than that — the ability for human beings to forgive in the same way as our divine Father. Jesus, not after the pain has ended, not when he could process and find some perspective, right in the midst of the pain asked God to forgive his tormentors. While they still stood mocking, “Save yourself!” While they gambled for his clothes. Jesus forgave.

This puts to rest all our objections, “I can’t forgive them, the pain is still too much.” “I can forgive, but I certainly won’t forget!” “You don’t understand how much they hurt me and you want me to forgive them?” “Yes, but I’m not Jesus, I’m not God…how can I forgive like they did?” There is no easy answer for these questions, but they have all been answered by Jesus on the cross. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

Still think you can do this Christianity thing on your own? Think again. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it is impossible…in our own strength. But all things are possible for God! Nothing is too hard for Him! You must rely on the Holy Spirit and the power of God for everything in faith! The flesh counts for nothing! Love is the ultimate ethic of Christianity, but the outworking of that love is forgiveness. When Jesus prays he asks God to forgive the very people who were mocking, maligning and murdering him. Only a Savior like that can save us, because he chose not to save himself but to save the very ones that hated him — now that is Amazing Grace.

Jesus, thank You. Amen.

Day 42 – When Jesus Prays — Part 2

John 17:1 — After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”

The prayer in John 17 is often called the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. It is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in the Gospel accounts. Jesus is about to complete His sacrifice on the Cross for all humanity — this is a picture of what the High Priest did each year on the Day of Atonement, making an offering first for his own sins then the sins of the people. But, unlike the High Priest of the Old Testament, Jesus did not need sacrifice for his own sins…He was sinless, perfect. And he offered not an animal, but his own perfect life as a sacrifice to pay the penalty of all of our sins. Jesus completed the work of testifying about God his Father….by bringing Him glory and by making his sacrifice.

As Jesus prays he asks God to glorify him — “Glorify your Son.”

To glorify, means to “praise, extol, magnify, celebrate.” “To honor, make glorious, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendor.” “To make renowned, render illustrious, cause dignity and worth to become manifest and acknowledged.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I thought we were supposed to be humble, never seeking glory for ourselves, and certainly never taking any glory away from God. This statement may seem to be a little out of character for Jesus. But, Jesus shows his intention very quickly as he completes the thought, “Glorify your Son, (in order) that your Son may glorify you.” Jesus’ prayer for God to glorify him is not a selfish desire for his own glory, but so that all people that see him would glorify God!

This is in full alignment with the question that the Westminster Catechism asks, “What is the chief end (purpose) of man?” and the answer is: “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” My life as a disciple of Jesus Christ is meant to glorify God. I want to be made known, acknowledged, rendered illustrious — glorified — in my life or death so that glory, all glory, will go to God my Father! “God, please put me on display publicly so that people will glorify Your Name!”

Before you get carried away with visions of glory, please understand the “glory” that came to Jesus from this request…Jesus was betrayed, arrested, beaten, spat upon, scourged, mocked, and crucified. He suffered the most humiliating and excruciating death possible…not exactly what we would call illustrious or honorable. However, millions have seen the beauty, splendor and glory of this death for over two thousand years. We celebrate it every year and live our lives to honor this death. We wear golden, lustrous, crosses around our necks and give glory to God through Jesus, His Son.

Are you ready to glorify and exalt God the Father by asking God to glorify you? Are you ready to glorify God and enjoy Him forever? When Jesus prays, He asks for glory…so that God may be glorified through him.

Father, You alone deserve all honor and power and praise and glory. Thank You for bringing glory to Your Son Jesus and thereby bringing glory to Yourself. Today Lord, I want to be bold like Jesus. Glorify me so that You may be glorified. If I may bring honor and glory to You, either by my life or by my death, Lord have Your way and maximize glory for You and Your Great Name! You are worthy of all my praise! You are high and exalted, glorious above all things…praise be to the Great God of heaven and earth! Please forgive me if I have ever stolen glory from You, or brought shame to Your Great Name. Please use me as You will, and I submit to every joy and happiness, as well as every pain and sorrow…no matter what, I will put my trust in You. Thank You, Father. Amen.

Day 41 – Is Prayer Important in Your Life?

Luke 10:41-42 – “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Is prayer important in your life? The default answer for most followers of Jesus would be: “yes”. But let me ask you to carefully and honestly consider this… is prayer important in your life? I’m not talking about just the type of prayer we pray when we are faced with difficult or challenging situations. Is daily communication with God an important part of our relationship with God or is it more of a ritual that we do out of “Christian duty”?

In today’s focal Scripture I see an important Biblical premise each of us should understand: nothing and no one should be more important in our lives than Jesus. Is prayer important? There is a quick test we could do to determine that. What is the one thing in your life that you just refuse to miss? Is it your favorite TV show? Is it your kids baseball game? Is it date night with your spouse? What is that one thing that you will rearrange your whole day for, cancel plans for, and make sure that you have time for? Chances are if we’re being honest, it isn’t prayer.

In my own life I can honestly say that prayer has intensified in challenging and difficult circumstances. I think this is natural and should be expected. But during times of prosperity it can be easy to forget the importance of prayer. In our focal Scripture today we see Martha, a woman on a mission to make sure everyone is served, her guest are comfortable, an amazing, gracious host I have no doubt. In the midst of her busyness, she finally gets overwhelmed and upset. Her sister Mary was far more concerned with hearing Jesus speak than stopping to help her sister with the serving. Although Martha had filled her day with many “good” things, she was missing out on the only thing that was truly needed: Jesus.

How about it then…  is prayer important to you? If I’m being honest, teaching and preaching are important to me. Updating the church’s website and social media are important to me. Writing this devotion has been important to me. Praying is important… but it certainly isn’t most important. How many words have I typed, how many lessons have I taught, how many times have I served and in the busyness of the moment, but I’ve missed God’s true intention.

As you prepare to pray today, I challenge you to truthfully consider the question: is prayer important to me? If prayer was important, wouldn’t you rearrange your day to make sure you never missed it? If prayer was important, wouldn’t you make and keep an appointment to seek God’s face? If you knew that every other part of your life was impacted through that prayerful appointment you kept with God, wouldn’t He then be the one thing you are seeking most? Let’s all be honest and today seek God’s grace to make real, intentional, Christ honoring change in our lives. Let’s humble ourselves and seek God’s face, then and only then will we see true healing in our land.

Father, I confess that I have traded so many good things for the most important thing: You. Lord, I ask for forgiveness for the times of busy distraction when I fill my days with service to You but don’t start by truly seeking You and Your will. Forgive me Lord for the times I have replaced the most important thing with all the other good distractions and have missed the most important thing. Please help me make and keep a devoted time of daily prayer with you. Help me put aside every good thing to seek You knowing that every area of my life will be blessed when I start with you. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Day 40 – The Art of Real Time Prayer

Nehemiah 1:11 – “Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

Nehemiah 2:4 – The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven

The scripture encourages us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) but what does that really mean? Surely Paul can’t mean that the church at Thessalonica is supposed to always be praying.. can he? As it turns out, that’s exactly what he means. The Greek word used for “without ceasing” is adialeiptōs which Strong’s Concordance defines as “incessantly”. Don’t you love when the translation of a word is another word that requires a Google search for context? Maybe that’s just me. Incessantly is defined by “without interruption”. The Message simply translate 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “pray all the time”.

So why is today’s focal verse Nehemiah 1:11 and Nehemiah 2:4 if I’ve focused so much on 1 Thessalonians 5:17? Because this is a perfect, real example of this direction in action. The Art of Real Time Prayer simply refers to the behavior we learn as we mature in the Christian faith of praying and seeking God’s guidance throughout our day. Getting ready for an important meeting at work? Pray. Getting ready to wake the kids up for school? Pray. Having a heated moment of conversation with your spouse? Pray. Learning to seek God’s guidance and obeying Him when He speaks is important.

I once heard of a man who literally prayed over every decision of every day. What should he eat? What should he wear? Where should he sit in the restaurant? All decisions that have to be made but probably don’t require the type of prayer we are talking about. Burger King or McDonalds? Chances are likely God doesn’t care (not like my wife, He really doesn’t care). Should you share the Gospel with the restaurant employee who struck up a conversation with you? Pray (but the answer will almost always be a resounding “yes”).

In today’s focal Scripture we see Nehemiah who was in exile in Persia. The Jews had been taken into captivity and now lived in a foreign land because of their rebellion against God. Nehemiah was getting ready to have one of the most important conversations of his life, and with the earthly king of the Persian empire no less. Although Nehemiah had been praying for weeks, we see the Art of Real Time Prayer come in to play when Nehemiah says that he “prayed to the God of heaven”.

The challenge for today’s devotion is not only make specific, dedicated, daily prayer time where we seek God’s will for our lives but also praying real time. It isn’t either/or, but both and. We should be praying daily for our day and then throughout the day for God’s guidance. We must learn to seek God’s will throughout the day and obey Him when He speaks. Learning the Art of Real Time Prayer can help us be a more Christ honoring spouse, parent, friend, worker, and neighbor. As you prepare to pray today, I wonder: how many times are you seeking God’s will throughout the day? How many wrong choices could have been avoided if you’d spent just an extra moment to seek God’s will before you spoke or reacted? Confess that to Him today and ask Him to aide you in this learned behavior of “praying without ceasing”.

Father, we confess that sometimes we wait to seek Your will until it’s too late. Lord, we say or do things before asking for Your directive and it can end poorly. Help us to learn how to pray without ceasing. Help us learn the Art of Real Time Prayer in which we communicate with You throughout our day. Lord, we know our lives will be richer, more abundant when we seek and obey Your will throughout our day. Lord, please help us know when to pray, when to act, what to say, and how to react when You speak. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Day 38 – Not Giving Up in Prayer

Luke 18:1 – Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

I have the cure for whatever your facing. Not really but pretend with me a minute. Is it some cruel disease like cancer? I have the cure. Are you trying to quit smoking or drinking? I have a solution that works 100% of the time. Is your marriage falling part? I have the advice that is going to change it all. Now that you know… are you going to come ask me to share it with you? Of course you are. What if I say no? No I won’t share it with you. Are you going to give up that easily? I didn’t think so.

Before we move on in today’s devotion, remember what we’ve already said: God is not some cosmic genie that responds to our every beckon and call. Sometimes God’s answer is no, even to our most desperate prayers. But the question for today is: do you give up in prayer too quickly? Do you pray half-hearted prayers never really believing that God would answer your request even know He could? Sometimes do you believe that God couldn’t even answer your prayer if He wanted to? Where is your persistence in prayer? Where is your faith?

In today’s focal Scripture we see that Jesus is telling His disciples a story. The purpose of His story is laid out in our verse: “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” I encourage you strongly to open your Bible to Luke chapter 18 and find this parable because it’s powerful. To summarize, we should persistently seek God in our prayers and not give up. Pray like your life depended on it. If God doesn’t answer right away… keep praying. Pray until God answers clearly and then trust Him through the answer.
I’ve said it before but prayer really changes our heart when we seek God’s will in it. I can remember for years praying about something I thought I desperately needed in my life. I prayed and prayed, ultimately God never answered that prayer in the way I thought He should. Fast forward and eventually the prayer I prayed had been answered in a very real and different way. Through the answer to my prayer when I finally had what I thought I desperately needed, I found that what I thought I needed was never really what God knew I needed.

Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees; have you ever experienced that? As you prepare to pray today, I encourage you to start by asking God to reveal to you your heart. Ask God to search you and reveal the truth about what you’re praying for (Psalm 139:23-24). As it turns out, the prayer I desperately prayed was because I had totally misunderstood (or resisted) what God’s Word had to say concerning who I was supposed to be as a husband. Meditate on these two thoughts as you prepare to pray today: are you giving up too easy in prayer? If God answered your prayer, would it really be game changer you think it would be? Ask Him to reveal the truth and change your heart through it.

Father, I confess sometimes I give up too easily in prayer. Through a mixture of doubt, frustration, despair, and hopelessness, I get discouraged and stop praying before You’ve ever answered. Lord, help me to persistently seek You and to continue seeking You until You give me a clear answer. Once You’ve answered Father, help me accept that Your way is always the best way. Please encourage me when I’m disheartened and discouraged. Please fill me with Your presence and strength, in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Day 37 – Praying Prayers of Anguish

1 Samuel 1:10 – In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.

Chances are likely that if you’ve been alive long, you’ve prayed prayers of “deep anguish”. It’s interesting that in times of intense hurt that both those who trust in Christ and those who don’t even believe in God both pray desperate prayers. As the old saying goes: there are no atheist in foxholes. Webster defines anguish as: extreme pain, distress, or anxiety. Have you ever prayed in “deep” anxiety or pain?

Sometimes in the midst of great grief or suffering, God can feel far away. Sometimes God can appear silent or even worse, apathetic or uncaring to our prayers. The enemy fills our heads with lies and questions God’s goodness, so we begin to wonder. If we are being honest, each one of us have had a crisis of faith or will have at some point during our life. But as David so beautifully observed: we can’t escape God’s love (Psalm 139:7-12). Sometimes for me personally, it can seem as if Satan is relentlessly trying to bring every truth of God’s Word into question. Time and time again God reminds me: His Word is true, even when it doesn’t “feel” like it.

Today we see a desperate prayer of Hannah. A barren woman who was loved by her husband but unable to conceive a child. This woman comes before God and prays, weeps, and pleads with God to intercede. I imagine her prayer in “dep anguish” didn’t just come out of one painful experience. She and her husband must have tried to conceive time and time again and she was unable to carry a child. Hannah knew what everyone of us will learn: God is the only one who can answer our most desperate prayers.

Perhaps you’re like Hannah and you’ve been praying in deep anguish. Maybe you’ve prayed for mercy and that God would spare someone’s life. Maybe you’ve prayed a child might be delivered from a drug addiction. Maybe you’ve prayed for a job. Maybe you’ve prayed for a better marriage. Whatever you’ve been pleading with God about, sometimes it can seem like He isn’t listening or even aware of your suffering. I promise He is. One thing I’ve learned over the course of the 9 years I’ve been following the Lord is: I can trust Him even when I don’t “feel” Him. He will keep His promises.

Today as you prepare to pray, I wonder: has the enemy convinced you that God doesn’t care? Has doubt began to creep in and the anguish has become deep? Is your heart heavy under the stress and pain with whatever your dealing with? Begin your prayer here today. Just as Hannah said concerning her prayer, let us seek to do today: “I was pouring out my soul to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15). Come before God in humble honesty and pour out your soul to Him. No matter what the enemy or anyone else has said let us: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1 NIV).

Father, help us come before you in total honesty and submission today. Lord, let us leave our religious views of prayer at the door and instead come seeking Your faithful love. Our hearts cry out before You knowing that You and You alone are the Author and Sustainer of our faith. Jesus our hearts cry out for Your promises to fill us with joy. We confess every moment of doubt, every painful heartache, and every fear that has crept into our minds. Lord, we know that you are faithful and we can come to You in our desperation, You alone will give us rest. We thank you for Your unfailing promises and the love that You show us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Day 36 – Fasting Brings Power

Matthew 17:21 — “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Jesus is once again ministering to the crowds in Matthew 17, when a man comes and throws himself at Jesus’ feet. He pleads with Jesus asking him to cast a demon out of his son. This demon had often caused his son to have seizures that threw him into both fire and water. His life was in danger. The man had asked Jesus’ disciples to cast out this demon but they could not. Jesus’ response was rather interesting:

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” (Matthew 17:17)

Unbelieving? Perverse? How long will I put up (literally: endure, bear with, suffer, have patience with) with you? A little harsh don’t you think? Seems like the tolerant, loving, patient Jesus took the day off! Maybe it doesn’t make a lot of sense right away, but you must consider what experience this came on the heels of…Peter, James and John had just witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus, seeing Moses and Elijah communing with Jesus! The very voice of God spoke and they heard it! You may say, “well and good, but not all of the apostles were privileged to witness this.” You are correct, however they did witness Jesus feed 5,000 and 4,000 people. They saw Jesus walk on water (along with Peter) and watched him calm a storm at sea. They saw him restore sight to the blind, heal the lame and paralyzed, cast out demons – multiple times, even raise a young girl from the dead!

In John 10:1, Jesus had sent out the twelve to the lost sheep of Israel, but before he did he “gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” Jesus had already given them the authority and power he possessed to accomplish the task! So, on the heals of a few successful exorcisms and healings, the disciples’ question was understandable: “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus replied simply, “Because you have so little faith.” and “this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Faith is spiritual. Unbelief/doubt is carnal, it’s physical, it’s worldly. If we have little faith, it is because our bodies have become “fat” off of things of this earth…we are feeding ourselves: too much food, too much wealth, to many toys, etc. But when our faith increases, it is because we have weakened the flesh by denying ourselves physical things that will hinder our spiritual growth and fed ourselves on God’s Word, on prayer, on praise. When we have fasted and then pray… demons beware! — fasting brings power.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me when I have little faith just like the disciples. Thank You for Your instruction to them and to me. Lord, I believe that our wants are in alignment on this — I want demons to flee and no longer plague the people of this earth. Help me to be ready to cast out demons and continue Your work until You come back for Your people. Lord, fasting is difficult and my body resists when I seek to weaken it. Help me to discipline my body and to find power through fasting and prayer. Thank you for hearing my prayer and answering. I love you, Lord. Amen.

Day 33 – Prayers with Pure Motives

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3)

There is a poison that has infiltrated the church in the world masquerading as the “gospel”. Understanding this bad theology is important so we aren’t perplexed when God doesn’t appear to function in the way these false teachers claim. There are two flavors of the same false gospel known as the “prosperity gospel” and though it is hard for us to call out this false teaching, it is helpful as we consider prayer.

There are different degrees of this false teaching but at it’s core it goes something like this: God wants you to be happy, healthy, and wealthy… if you aren’t those things, it’ because you don’t have faith. The more faith, the more prosperity. The “name it and claim it” teaching goes along these same lines. If you “name it” in Jesus name, and “claim it” in faith, it’ll be yours… today’s Scripture destroys this entire false narrative. The God of the Scriptures isn’t concerned with your physical prosperity that is temporary and worldly, He is far more concerned with your spiritual prosperity since it has eternal consequences.

James writes that we have not because we ask not, but lest we be confused and tempted to think the “name it and claim it” teaching holds water, he follows up: when you do ask you don’t get what you’re asking for because you have impure motives. God cares about the heart of our prayers and thus the motives of our prayers matter. When we seek God in prayer above all else, we should seek His will. As it turns out, it may not be God’s will for you to have that brand-new house, that six figure salary, that healthy check-up, or that amazing new set of golf clubs. If we will remember that God isn’t some all-powerful, cosmic genie there to grant our hearts deepest desires, it will help build a proper foundation in prayer.

I recall Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane often and I think this prayer could serve as a stark reminder for us all. As Jesus spends his last night before the crucifixion with His disciples, he is desperately praying in the garden. On the other side of the sun rise Jesus knows He will face the mocking, the torture, the false accusations, the abandonment of His friends, and most cruelly He will face the cross to be put to a criminal’s death as He suffers for our sins. In His prayer He is almost overcome by emotion to the point of death and He prays: “Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass from my hand. But not my will Father, Thy will be done.” God’s will was done and the cup did not pass from Jesus hand…

As you prepare to pray today, I wonder: are you holding on to some false sense of what prayer is all about? Do you keep hoping that God might answer a selfish prayer with impure motives? Chances are He won’t. As you pray today, what if the things you are asking are contrary to God’s will for your life? Are you prepared, even to the point of suffering, to trust Him and His refining work? Although it may be easier to believe a false teaching about prayer and God, it is far better for us to pray for faith to trust God in prayer and that we would always yield our will to Him.

Father, forgive any impure or selfish prayers we’ve prayed. As we come to you in Jesus’ name, help us to seek Your will for our lives. When we pray Father, reveal to us the true motives of our prayers. Help us grow in this area as we seek to dispel any false teaching concerning prayer or faith. Lord, teach us to be faithful as you were in seeking the Father’s will knowing it is far better to suffer in God’s will than to prosper out of it. Teach us to trust you even when things don’t make sense and remind us that our treasure is in heaven. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Day 31 – Fasting Brings Protection

Matthew 4:1-2 — “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”

You thought I forgot about fasting didn’t you? I know the last time we talked about it was day 4, and I’m sure that many of you were probably hoping that it was the last time we would! When we think of athletes facing incredible challenges, they go into training for big matches or tournaments. When they face these challenges they go into strict training, exercising, strength training, studying their opponents — their bodies are machines and what is the fuel for those machines? FOOD!!!

So Jesus, led by the Spirit into the wilderness for his greatest challenge to date — being tempted by, going toe-to-toe with the devil himself! His first move to prepare for this huge encounter…deprive His body of food. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, we know that Jesus is quite literally on the brink of starvation. Physically He is as low as you can get before death occurs. Why would Jesus put Himself in such a “weak” position?

Because our physical bodies cannot help us overcome a spiritual struggle.

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:63

“Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Colossians 2:23

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Romans 8:6-7

“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do…And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:17, 24

Jesus knew that to face Satan and his temptations with His body full of fleshly, worldly strength would be disaster. When our bodies are weakened through the denial of food, or comfort of any kind really (TV, wealth, sex or pornography — yes these can be used to comfort, gossip, entertainment, etc.), then our Spirit begins to have greater power and strength than our flesh. Jesus knew that fasting was a pathway to protection. When he stepped into the arena with Satan, He was physically at His weakest…but Spiritually at His strongest! When we pray, we are engaging in Spiritual warfare, not physical warfare (Ephesians 6:12). If you want greater protection, weaken your flesh that wars against you by fasting. Fasting brings protection.

Jesus, thank you for the reminder that I cannot win a spiritual battle through physical means. Help me to strategically and consistently weaken my flesh in order to obtain protection and power. Lord, I admit that this scares me. I fear that my body will react strongly, I may get sick, or it may hurt me. Help me to seek the aid of physicians who can help me do this correctly and safely. But please don’t let me talk myself out of this important discipline. Maybe forsaking food is too much for me, help me forsake other fleshly appetites that keep me from spiritual success. God I trust You. And I believe that You will help me to apply this appropriately and successfully in my spiritual walk. Thank You for hearing me and helping me. I love You. Amen.