Monday reflections on fasting and prayer <3
Well, it’s a blustery day here in the Midwest! The winds and rains are putting on quite a show in between short bursts of sun peeping through. I feel Spring is breathing down our necks and we are ready.
Before I move into the thoughts for today, I want to acknowledge that amongst quite a few known readers of this, you all are facing some tough things. As I have been reading the book Gentle and Lowly about the heart of Christ, I am so encouraged for God’s love and compassion for us when we are in deep despair.
We also have been watching “The Chosen” a few episodes at a time and last night watched as Jesus called Matthew from his despised position as a tax collector and then as He talked with the woman at the well. I cried through much of both episodes at the knowledge of how kind and good God is to us even when we fail, falter, stumble, run away or just want to quit.
This morning I read from Psalm 107 and as always it is such a sweet reminder of all the ways we can burn our bridges that were reconciled to God through Christ and yet when we cry out, He comes again to rescue us and draw us to Himself.
You are deeply loved.
And now for the thought to share.
Our Pastor Jonathan spoke yesterday from the Best Sermon Ever series on Prayer and Fasting.
Using Matthew 6: 5-16 and then Matthew 7:7-11, he gave us clear and simple teachings and expectations on both fasting and prayer. Both are assumed as Jesus says, “and when you fast…and when you pray.” And both are to be done with a private heart of devotion to God and not as a show for man.
I loved the quote he used from someone…sorry didn’t write it down…that asks the question:
Is the spiritual practice of prayer about connection with God or convincing others you are holy?
We do sometimes pray out loud in front of others and corporate prayer is good, but it is always a matter of the motivation of the heart for both prayer and fasting.
I also appreciated his reminder of the definition of the purpose of fasting:
“Abstaining from food for a period of time for the purpose of prayer and spiritual time with God.”
Jonathan reminded us that it is entirely possible to substitute something else for the thing you are fasting from to help get you through the deprived feeling and yet NOT use that time to draw close to God.
I certainly have found this to be the case as I am abstaining from social media except for the parameters I set in advance during this season of Lent. You can read that post here https://www.laurareimer.net/preparing-the-heart-for-the-season-of-lent/
It is very easy to fill the time I used to spend “scrolling” other people’s posts by texting, checking email and more texting. I had already recognized the need to be intentional about reading, study and prayer as the thing I turned to instead of my phone, so I was very grateful for this tangible reminder from the pulpit about it.
As I have had to put the phone away from me so that I am not tempted to stop reading my book and start texting, it has dawned on me how much I use my phone to fill the need for connection with others.
It is always a struggle for the finite to not seek first to be comforted by what can be seen, felt and interacted with in a physical way.
But God calls us to a faith relationship where we are close and connected to Him who we cannot see, touch or feel in our physical way. It is a spiritual relationship that takes time and intentionality to develop.
If you have given up something for Lent, I encourage you to do checks throughout the week and make sure you are not substituting something besides God for what you gave up.
Blessings my friends.
We are all works in progress, loved and guided by a perfect God as He refines and strengthens us to trust and know Him more.