Tag Archives: Fasting

The Mind of Christ – Praying and Seeking God’s Face

Humility is a must if we want our prayers not just to be heard BUT accepted by God (see ‘The Link between Humility and Answered Prayer’). When we humble ourselves and pray to the Father, for many of us, the first thing that He shows us is the reason why He has not been able to say yes to us. When we go to God in humility, He shows us the true condition of our hearts – those portions of our heart that have not been broken up and so cannot bear the good fruit we have requested. The truth is that when we go to our watchtower – that quiet place where we cannot be reached or disturbed; that place of solitude where we can humbly set our sight on God in prayer – our vision becomes clear and we can through His help see the true and full layout of our land (our heart). I love the way this truth is written in the book of Habakkuk. There, the word of God says:

I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me,
and what I will answer when I am corrected – Habakkuk 2:1 – 2

It is through fasting and praying that we stand our watch and set ourselves on the rampart. When we do this, God reveals to us what we truly look like and corrects our prideful and flawed attitudes and image. If we are at all smart and want to shorten our wilderness experience, we will not try to argue with God when He corrects us but instead will apologetically fall on our face, say sorry, and agree to what He tells us to do.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Prayer is a key ingredient in discovering what is keeping us from God best!

After we have sought the Lord and He has corrected us, the right response is to break up our fallow ground. If we do not, anything we do is simply a waste of time – just as a farmer who plants on soil that has not been prepared is simply wasting his seed. The house of Jacob did not understand this during the time of Prophet Isaiah. They did not understand why God was not responding to their fasting, praying, and reading His Word. They asked God ‘Why have we fasted and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls and You have not taken notice?’ To this, God in essence replies ‘You have sin. You keep on doing the ‘right’ things but you have not corrected your erroneous ways’. The 58th chapter of Isaiah describes this very well – one excerpt from the chapter is given below:

“Tell my people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God…they take delight in approaching God – Isaiah 58:2

Our refusal to be corrected by God is the biggest impediment to us progressing in life. No amount of fasting, prayer, seeking or any other magic formula will do. We can ask, but His response will always be ‘Clean house in this area I have shown you first’.

Just as a piece of jewelry is just another lost item in a very junky house, the seed of the word of God gets lost and quickly losses its value if not sown into a receptive heart. The word of God tells us that the pre-requisite to seeking the face of God (seeking the word of God) is breaking up our fallow ground. Once prayer has revealed the location and depth of the ground we must break up, we must actively begin the digging with the help of God by exercising forgiveness, letting go of past baggage, journeying through our childhood to rid ourselves of past hurts, and laying all of what we are at His feet.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: After prayer has revealed the junk in us, we must begin the process of ‘cleaning house’ if we are to find the face of God!

Glory to God that we do not grow weary in seeking His face but persevere, we will find it and He will shower us with the riches of His inheritance. Hallelujah!

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you – Hosea 10:12

So, why is important to pray and seek the face of God? It is the only way we can experience the flood of His goodness (righteousness) in our lives.

Here are the practical steps we have seen so far to set ourselves up to experience the flood of His goodness:

  • Humble ourselves (see How can I grow in Humility?)
  • Fast and pray to discover unsavory areas of our lives (see Habakkuk 2:1 – 2)
  • Deal with the junk that God reveals is present in us by His power (see John 15:2)
  • Seek His face (His word)

Food for Thought: We experience the blessings of God when we till the land of our heart

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Temptation – Oh the Forbidden Fruit

The bible says that God does not tempt anyone (see James 1:13). Yet, Jesus includes “lead us not into temptation” when teaching His disciples how to pray to God (see Matthew 6:9 – 13). So what then is Jesus saying? Is He saying that God allows us to undergo temptation…or leads us into temptation? While it is certainly implied in The Lord’s Prayer, the proof can be found in the gospel of Matthew where it states:

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” – Matthew 4:1

Jesus being specifically led into the wilderness to be tempted tells us that God (the Holy Spirit) does allow us to be tempted. It sounds crazy until we take a look at what the temptation that God allows looks like.

First, the temptation did not occur till Jesus was well prepared. See, Jesus had just undergone spiritual calisthenics (fasting) and so was buff and ready to swat away any temptations the devil would levy against Him. Likewise, God does not allow us to be tempted without readying us and giving us the tools to handle the temptations that come our way. So does that then mean that God allows us to be tempted to test our spiritual maturity and our readiness to handle what He has for us? Absolutely! Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted to gauge His level of readiness for the ministry to which God called Him. We know this because the temptation occurred before He ever started preaching.

“From that time, Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”” – Matthew 4:17

Jesus passed the test in the wilderness and so moved on to the ministry which eventually led to salvation for all humanity and His glorification.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Many are called but few are indeed chosen because we keep failing the test that God levies on us to see if we are ready. In the process, we miss out on the glory (honor, distinction, prosperity) that God wants to shower on us.

Thus, while all temptation comes from Satan, God allows us to be led into some temptations to test our readiness for His goodness.

Second, the temptation that God allows will not be more than we can withstand.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Therefore, God makes a way out for the temptations He allows through His grace; we just need to follow it. When Jesus foiled Satan’s plan, the angels ministered to Him, and He left the wilderness. He was ready!

Temptation we allow

But now, there are those temptations into which we lead ourselves. These are not of God and these are no good for us. This is what happened in the garden! What I have always wondered is this: Why of all the places to hang-out in the garden were Adam and Eve anywhere close to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; why were they hanging about the forbidden fruit in the first place?

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: In the story of Adam and Eve, the bible teaches us its first lesson – stay away from temptation. Thousands of years later, we are still having a hard time learning it.

Just like Adam and Eve, we tend to willingly put ourselves in situations God would not have us be a part, all the while using every reason, excuse, and rationale to justify our behavior. To illustrate this, imagine a recovering alcoholic who deliberately steps into a wine bar to get away from the rain outside. When asked why he stepped into the bar, the excuse is instant – to get away from the rain. When asked why not choose an adjacent store, again the justification is instant – the bar was the closest. All the while, Satan is laughing all the way to the bank to deposit a “slip” into the account of the man who ended up having a few too many harmless “samples” from which he ought to have stayed away.

For the man described, the act of going into the bar iteself was an act of disobedience because the man did not abstain from every appearance of evil (see 1 Thessalonians 5:22) – for the bar was his evil. He was disobedient to the word of God, and so it was not God that led him to be tempted…he led himself. In this situation, we are simply reliant on God’s mercy to pull us through.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  We set up a snare for ourselves when we disobey the promptings of the Holy Spirit and lead ourselves into situations where we are likely to compromise God.

In summary, we have to be prepared to swat away the devil by keeping ourselves battle ready through renewing our minds, our fasting, and our prayer.  We also have to make sure we are being obedient and so do not lead ourselves into temptation.

When we do the above, we find that what the bible says holds true:

“…he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him” – 1 John 5:18

Food for thought: If you look too long at the apple, you will eventually take a bite.

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