Teenside Daily Devotional

4/16/20
Read Matthew 6:16-18.

Fasting is a concept that I completely disregarded for the longest time. I sort of knew what it was, and I knew that many people in the Bible, including Jesus, fasted regularly, but I still didn’t understand it or care to try it. Yet, Jesus addresses it as if it is something that was common. He talks about fasting immediately after he talks about prayer, which we know for sure is important. So, should we fast? Yes.

You will find that most stories that contain someone fasting are in the Old Testament. Based on what I have read, there are mainly three reasons to fast: (1) you want to spend time relying fully on God to sustain you, bringing yourself in closer communion with Him; (2) you may know that a trial or decision is before you, so you fast for God to give strength and clarity; (3) you fast as a part of repenting. This is not an exhaustive list, but these are all good reasons to fast. And the first reason should be a desire for all of us!

In my opinion, fasting is extremely difficult. There was about a two month period where I picked one day each week and completely fasted for 24 hours. Although it did get easier, I was never looking forward to not eating. I didn’t really stick with it, but I learned a lot through that time. Fasting, just like reading God’s Word and praying, is a discipline. It takes time and practice to be consistent. It also teaches patience. When you’re hungry but you’ve committed to not eating until a certain time, patience is all that will get you through. One of the biggest things that I learned while fasting though was that I am dependent on a lot of things. I depend on food, water, and oxygen. When I don’t get these things, I feel weak. Yet, God depends on nothing. There is no situation that can make Him feel weak. I realized why it was so important to lean on God: He is always strong. Is it not encouraging to think that your Father in heaven is always dependable? It is for me!

Finally, what does Jesus specifically say about fasting here? Apparently, there were many hypocrites making it quite obvious that they were fasting. Again, people love to be seen! However, Jesus tells us to put in as much work as needed to make sure that it’s not obvious that we’re fasting. We see the phrase “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Why does Jesus keep saying this? It’s because your relationship with God doesn’t depend on other people! Your relationship with God can be encouraged and strengthened by the support of Christians around you, but if there’s nothing there when they leave, what’s the point? God wants you. He’s given up much to make that very clear. Can’t we give God our time and energy without desiring others to see when we do? Absolutely, we can! Be intentional about spending some time alone with God, and I promise that He will meet you there and bless that time!

Questions:
*Take a moment to journal these questions. Write down your thoughts, questions, and concerns. Then date your entry. One of the coolest things is being able to look back and see how God came through for you.*

  1. Take a moment to reflect on the reasons Caleb listed for fasting: (1) you want to spend time relying fully on God to sustain you, bringing yourself in closer communion with Him; (2) you may know that a trial or decision is before you, so you fast for God to give strength and clarity; (3) you fast as a part of repenting.

Which one(s) of these is relevant to you right now?

  1. If you were able to apply one of those three things to your life, don’t consider fasting– just do it. Start small: I would suggest planning one meal to skip. Although I do recommend fasting food at some point, you may also consider fasting social media (or anything that takes up a lot of your time). ***DO NOT wake up late and decide to “fast” breakfast.*** It needs to be something that is going to be a challenge, and a time where you can tune out distractions and focus on what God wants to say to you. Have a purpose for your fast (whether it be one of the three things listed above or something else that is on your heart) and make sure you replace the activity with God That can look like praying, reading scripture, listening to sermons and christian podcasts, spending time in worship, etc.

What could you give up in order to see God clearer? What would the purpose of your fast be?

  1. Before you start, check your heart!! When Jesus says not to make our fasting known, he is not establishing a rule for fasting; rather, he is giving us a heart check. What are your intentions? 

  1. If your goal is to be admired by people, that will be your reward. However, that is a very unfulfilling reward in comparison to what God can give to you. 1 Sam. 16:7 says that “the Lord does not see as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. I don’t know about you but that is the way I want to be known. Not known in the way people can see me (because if we’re being honest with ourselves– most people don’t see our truest self), but known for who I am deep down, the person God has created me to be. What do you want God to see? If you talked to him face to face, what would be the most important thing about yourself that you wanted him to know?

Guess what– He knew that thing. But He also longs to hear you say it. Let God into those deep places. He created you with those things in mind.

Prayer: Spend some time praying about the things you journaled. Ask God to show you what you could give up in order to see him more clearly in your life. Pray for intentionality and steadfastness in the way you pursue Him. Praise God for the way he sees and knows you. Pray that as you give up your time and energy to pursue God, He would start to reveal new things to you.

We will also be praying that for you.

Read this Psalm Out Loud: Psalm 139 – It’s a good one to read while fasting too.

Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/169Fs68hROYRdS362T8D9w
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