Sermon Series: “Say What? – A look at the Words of Jesus”
Today’s sermon: “A Hungry Man’s Prayer”
And when you pray…
This is how you should pray…
And when you fast…
fasting appears to be connected to prayer
o He compares the fasting of the hypocrites (as seen in verse 16) to proper fasting just as He compared
the prayer of hypocrites (as seen in verse 5) to proper praying
However, fasting seems to be in addition to prayer too.
o In Jesus’ instructions to pray He does not say you have to fast
However, He does say in verse 16, “When
o There is an assumption that fasting is something that is being done and should continue to be done.
What is fasting?
What is Jesus referring
definition of the word “Fast”:
o To abstain from food and drink
To fast and pray
is to abstain from food and drink while praying
Is fasting required?
In the Old Testament, fasting was required at certain times and for certain
o It was one way in which the people of Israel prepared themselves to meet with
§ They wanted everything about themselves to be as pure as possible if
they were going to meet with God (including what was inside their body)
In the Old Testament, God did not allow His people to eat certain kinds
of food because they were considered unclean.
o God wanted His people to be set apart from the world in every way, including the foods they ate.
§ The world around them would be able to look upon the people of Israel and see that they were different. Their God was different. Their God was real.
Things changed a
bit in the New Testament.
At the time of this
incident there must have been some sort of religious festival going on and it was common for people at that time to be fasting.
However, Jesus and
His disciples were not fasting. Why?
Because Jesus referred
to Himself as the bridegroom, He was proclaiming Himself to be the Messiah.
In essence, He was
saying, “the old ways of doing things are coming to an end very soon. The
Old testament rules and regulations will not be required. There will be a better
He says that after Jesus will be taken from them, then they will fast
Some would say that
With Jesus’ death and resurrection on the cross, there would be no need for fasting, but Jesus Himself shows that fasting
In Mark 9:28-29, the disciples were trying to cast out a demon but they could not.
After Jesus Had gone indoors, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive
it out? He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer [and fasting].”
If fasting is not required as a religious duty
We can fast as a part of prayer but we do not have to fast every time we pray,
What is fasting all about?
at some examples in the Scriptures when people took time to fast.
Moses fasted for
forty days on Mount Sinai in order to receive the law and guidance in the wilderness ( Ex
34:28 ; Deut 9:9 ).
Jesus, before starting
His earthly ministry and calling his disciples, went into the wilderness to pray and fast. ( Mt 4:2)
On one occasion
he the disciples were complaining that they were hungry and had no food. Jesus
responded in a way that said, God’s purposes are more important than satisfying your hunger. It was as if to say, “ you are just going to have to stay hungry until God says we are done doing
what He wants us to do. God’s business is always more important than food.
( Jn 4:31–34 ).
The early church
spent some time in prayer and fasting so that they would know who to send as missionaries. (Acts 13:3–4 ).
Fasting is one way that we can surrender ourselves totally to the Lord.
Let me explain.
Fasting is a human
way of saying, I totally depend on God and am surrendered to Him even to the point of leaving food and drink behind.
It is letting go
of all the desires of self, including the desires of the physical body in order to surrender to God’s will in your life.
When we remove food
and water from our lives, we begin to realize how dependant we are on those things and how much they control us. (same thing is true for cars, TV, microwaves, computers, etc.)
Fasting causes us
to stop depending on to earthly things and start clinging to God for help.
Why is this type
of personal surrender necessary?
God wants us to
cling to Him so He can speak to us.
We must be surrendered
before God if we expect to hear from Him. (God rarely speaks to us in big ways
when we are pre-occupied with other things.)
God will not respond
to our requests or give us answers to our questions if we are not coming to Him with a surrendered and broken heart.
Which brings us
to our next point.
Fasting is done when we genuinely want to hear from God.
When we come before
God in prayer we must always come with a neutral heart. I’ll do whatever
6:10. “Your kingdom come, your will
All of the above
individuals needed God to step in big ways. More than in any other time in their
lives, they needed to hear clearly from God.
Moses needed guidance to lead a nation and God gave Him the Law.
Jesus needed guidance from the Lord regarding who He was going to pick
to be His disciples and how He was going to do His ministry
The early church needed guidance about who it was that God was calling
to be missionaries.
Nothing in their
life (including food) was more important that finding out God’s will.
Do we have to fast?
Is fasting a great way to force yourself into dependence upon the Lord as you seek His will?
So, what is the real issue?
God wants us to stop what we are doing long enough to focus on Him for the direction we need in our
A person who does
not stop life long enough to pray is a person whose life is headed down the road to disaster.
Most likely that person is lost and confused.
You cannot get clear
direction without stopping to pray.
Going back to Matthew
6:5-6, we need to get alone with God, cling to Him and listen to what He has to say.
Fasting is just
one way we can prepare our hearts to listen to God so that His will will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
We as a church need
to be a time of prayer.
In the midst of
the crisis we have no choice to do anything but pray and ask God what His will is for our church.