Saturday, January 28, 2012

Don't Leave Out The Conversation (fasting series)

With fasting it is important that we do not make the fast the focus of this precious time we have set aside in consecration with God. We must not focus on what we have given up but instead on what it is we are doing in the place of that thing. Perhaps we are fasting food, maybe just animal products, perhaps sugar, television, FaceBook or any number of other things. The reason  we are doing this is to try to remove some distractions from our life so that we are able to more fully concentrate on God. We want to draw as close as we can to him, to hear his voice without the filter of the distractions. So the last thing we want to do is forget about God.

I have written previously about the importance of God's Word in our fast but let us not forget prayer either. That is a tragic waste of time and of a precious sacrifice if we leave out such an important part of our fast, our conversation with God. This is the private, intimate time we have with Jesus, that is referred to as our closet time:

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:6)

Public prayer is great, both encouraging and powerful, but our time alone with the Lord is precious and comforting. It is the time to express love and seek forgiveness. It is the time of breaking and building up. Jesus told us to make sure it was not a time of silly babbling, a repeating of words that mean nothing:

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:7-8)

Jesus told us there needs to be certain elements to our conversation but he did not intend for us to repeat a prayer that has no meaning to most people who repeat it. Didn't he just say not to do that? He did say to include worship, a desire for God's will over our own, an explanation of our needs, repentance and petition for others, as well as protection as we do his work. Too many of us are too busy with his work to actually take the time to fast and pray. This needs to change. How can we be in ministry, doing his work with no connection or at best a fleeting connection every day? We need intimacy. He longs for intimacy. Fasting is a great tool to open the door to this greater level of intimacy.

Make sure your fasting is not simply a physical thing like a diet and don't let it become a mechanical sacrifice that is void of purpose. Along with your fast dwell in his Word and spend lots of time in conversation. Fasting is all about better intimacy with Jesus.

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