When the life events of Jesus are your model for devotion you can’t go wrong. Several years ago I became convinced of the importance of honoring Jesus’ forty day fast with a season of personal fasting and prayer. Many of my friends pushed back with strong resistance, even a bit of disdain, “Don’t you know that Lenten fasting is a Catholic thing” (suggesting that it must therefore be somehow wrong)?
After all of my studies, conversations, reflections and prayers I am convinced that it is a terrific idea to follow Jesus’ example of fasting and prayer. in fact, if it was a good and needed thing for Jesus you and I will benefit tremendously.
For sure there is a ton of strange stuff that has become attached to this particular season of fasting throughout the past one thousand years. I have decided simply to ignore the non-biblical things and focus my attention on Jesus and His life.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:1-11
Following are a few of the ideas guiding me in my season of fasting and prayer:
1. Jesus’ fast was Spirit led.
2. Jesus’ enemy perceived the season of fasting and prayer to be a prime opportunity to tempt and attack.
3. Jesus’ fast was fully founded in the Word of God.
4. After his fast, Jesus received the difficult news that his cousin, John, had been arrested. His fast did not remove life’s challenges but strengthened him to face the difficulties.
Will you begin to pray and ask if the Spirit is leading you into a season of fasting and prayer?