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Emails to God – Why Don’t I Fast More? (Matthew 17:14-21)

14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “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.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [21]

Dear God, Mark’s telling of this story includes the line about this kind only coming out through prayer and fasting. Why don’t I fast more? I can tell you that every time I have fasted I have seen you move.

The most recent time was about two months ago. I was facing a funding crisis for a project on a Monday that would cost a lot of money. I was overwhelmed and distraught. So I decided to do something I haven’t done in a while and take a day to fast and pray about the situation. I did so the next day (Tuesday). The first thing that happened was that a large donor called me out of the blue on that very day and told me that he was thinking about us and the situation and to let him know if we need anything. Basically, he was good for a chunk of it. Then I contacted two different foundations who know us. They each told me that they would be willing to get us 1/3 of it. Then on Friday I talked to a fourth resource who told me that they would help. So, within four days I had nearly all of the money lined up. Why? Because I was so brilliant? No. I am convinced it is because I took the time to fast and pray, asking you to intervene in a big way—which you graciously did. I even emailed the first man and told him how you used him in my life.

Father, there are other things that I should fast and pray for. The leadoff hitter is probably my kids. They are teenagers and need your protection. I need to fast and pray for them. My marriage is approaching the 20-year mark, and I need to spend more time fasting for it. I have friends who are struggling. I need to fast and pray about that. Our organization at work is still facing formidable challenges. I need to fast and pray about that as well. So I commit to you that I will do that. I am going to pick a day that week to fast and pray to you so that you will be glorified in all of these areas of my life.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Loving God More than All Others (Matthew 10:37-39)

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Dear God, Jesus is really on a roll here. This whole chapter seems to be a little out of character for him, but I don’t suppose it really is. In this case, he is simply saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” He is saying that your devotion has to be to your God first because if you love your children more than me then you will fail your children. If you love your parents more than me, you will fail your parents as well as me and everything else. Whenever you figure you that you have to lose your life, dreams, goals, ambitions, priorities, etc. in order to live a life that is fulfilled and at peace then you will have to love me more than anything else.

One of the things that is hard for me to do is to remember to call you in when I am in crisis. Sure, I might throw up an occasional prayer, but do I really seek your provision and comfort? Two days ago I was very stressed. A family member was discovered to be sick. I had some overwhelming circumstances come up at work. I was pretty down. So I decided to do something I hadn’t done in a while. I fasted and prayed. I don’t remember the last time I took a day to fast, but it has been a while. Well, it was really good and purifying. Every time I felt hungry I thought of the relative I love and the problem at work and I simply turned it over to you. I didn’t really beseech you for anything as much as I surrendered to you. The hunger pains were a reminder that I needed to let go and rest in you.

Father, help me to carry that lesson into today. Help me to continue to rest in you. Thank you for the people you sent to me yesterday who encouraged and blessed me. Thank you for hearing my prayers. Thank you for caring about my prayers. I am doing my best to love you more than anything else, although I often fail, and I want to be continually be in your peace. So I give myself over to you in this moment and ask that you carry it all through the day.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Not Drawing Attention to Myself (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.

Dear God, there are times when I can be like a little kid and want others to “look at me!” I don’t fast that often (I should probably fast a lot more), but there are other things that I see myself doing that I think drive me to be the center of attention wherever I go. When I am in a Bible study it is hard for me to remain silent and let others speak because I think I have such a great answer. Even last night, my wife and I were in a Bible study and I seem to find it necessary to come up with a clever line here and there for everyone to hear. Somewhere along the way I never outgrew that need to be noticed.

I can see that tendency in one of my children, and it, frankly, gets annoying. I can’t imagine how my wife puts up with me in this area except that she has just gotten used to it and tunes it out. But I think earlier in our relationship and marriage it was, indeed, a hard part of my personality to get used to. I think she was thinking, Does this guy ever get enough of my attention? Can I ever do enough to satisfy is ego?

The sin in this is that I am supposed to be trying to decrease as you increase. I am supposed to be humble so that others might be drawn to you through me. I am supposed to give you the glory for my accomplishments instead of bragging on myself to others. I am supposed to be at peace in myself, knowing that you are my provision for love, acceptance, peace, and joy.

Father, I learned this simple song about 30 years ago at an FCA conference, and I have never forgotten it. I have gone long stretches without living it, but I have never forgotten it. I will make it my prayer to you today: Make me a servant, humble and meek. Lord, let me lift up those who are weak. And may the prayer of my heart always be, Make me a servant, make me a servant, make me a servant today.

 

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Matthew

 

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