Sermon on the Mount

Fasting

This devotional is written by Paul Blandford.

Matthew 6:16-18

16 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But 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.

Reflection

Immediately after the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says "When" you fast and at that time it was common practice to fast regularly. But it’s not compulsory, it’s an invitation.

Fasting is not transactional, meals foregone do not equate to answered prayer. God is relational and our spiritual practices develop our relationship with Him and our awareness of His presence, rather than earn points.

My experience of fasting has been that it strengthens my "choice" muscle and exposes how easily I turn to food or other things to control my anxieties or distract myself. It brings into the light the ways in which even reasonable habits and desires subtly, but powerfully control me. By growing my self-control in one area, I acquire a transferable skill for other aspects of my life.

As Jesus said, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that God speaks" and  "My food is to do what the One who sent me wants me to do and to finish his work."

Jesus invites us to live in the Spirit and be attentive to His prompting.

Fasting is one way to practice tuning out from our physical hungers and mental distractions, so we might walk in step with the Spirit, and get our priorities in the right order.

So, when you fast don’t make a big deal of it or get all religious, be normal. When you feel drawn to the fridge, phone or box set, be present to the Lord and choose to talk to God, read a bible verse, and declare "no actually , God you are really what I need now and it won’t kill me to let the other stuff wait a while."

Father, please give me the grace and power to re-order my life to your way of living.

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