A Pastor's Heart
|Posted on August 9, 2018 at 11:35 AM|
By today you should already be working to build daily Bible reading and prayer into your daily life routine. Once again these are not legalistic practices that keep the Devil away from us, but rather are exercises that help change our understanding of who God is based on his revelation of himself and our interactions with him based on that understanding. Some days you will not accomplish all the reading you wish to do or you will not spend as much time in prayer as you would like. Do not beat yourself up over those days, simply renew your commitment and move forward.
As we look at today’s discipline, we will take a turn from a daily practice to what should be a regular practice. This is not something that you will engage in each day, but rather will schedule and practice regularly to benefit most from its addition to your spiritual discipline routine.
The third personal discipline for us to practice is Fasting. Now I know reading that word makes you hungry as you consider giving up a meal, but realistically fasting helps us fight against our natural desires. The Apostle Paul explains in Romans chapter eight that through the Spirit we must mortify the actions of our fleshly desires. In Romans chapter twelve the Apostle calls us to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God as a result of renewing our minds. As we spend time in the Word of God and communing with God in prayer our minds will be changed. As we practice the discipline of fasting, we will strive to develop self discipline for wrestling with our sinful and fleshly desires. Additionally, the practice of fasting provides us with the opportunity to place additional focus on the study of the Scriptures and our communion with God through prayer.
Throughout the Scriptures we see men and women who practiced this discipline with both purposes in mind. Elijah fasted while pursued by Jezebel and met face to face with God. Daniel fasted awaiting an answer to his prayers regarding his people the Israelites. Esther fasted in preparation for pleading for the life of her people before the king. Jesus fasted in preparation for his temptation at the hands of Satan. The Apostle Paul fasted and prayed during the storm at sea. Fasting is a discipline that should be practiced with some level of regularity and as a result of that regularity should be employed in times of testing or great seeking before God.
While fasting is historically linked to food, fasting can be a withdrawal from anything that has a regular place within your life. For some of us fasting could be a withdrawal from Facebook, Netflix, fishing, or dinner. Any habit that we have allowed to grow and create a regular space in our life is an opportunity to develop discipline in mastering our natural desires and resetting our focus upon the sovereign of eternity. Take a moment to assess your life. What things have you allowed to take control of your life? What areas have you allowed to reign over your desires? Then as you identify these habits, plan a fast to separate yourself from the gratification of your flesh and begin to renew your focus and reset your discipline upon your savior.