1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (ESV)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you
I’d say praying is pretty important if we’re to pray all the time! Not possible you say? Well, one thing we must understand about how God communicates to us through his Word, is that he often speaks in these big bold statements that seem crazy and impossible.
But what he’s getting at when he says things like “pray without ceasing” is that if we truly love him and if Jesus is truly our Savior, then the posture of our hearts will be one of constant awareness and humility before God.
One of my favorite authors on spiritual disciplines, Don Whitney, says, “When our awareness of the greatness of God and the gospel is dim, our prayer lives will be small”. That’s it! We serve a big God. Every day we go outside and experience the vastness of the world around us whether it be the sun, moon, stars or simply the variety of people we know, that speaks to the power of God.
We read in Luke 5.16 that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray”. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we need to pray. We need prayer because it conforms our hearts to God and makes us more like Jesus.
What about fasting?
Matthew 6:16–18 (ESV)
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Notice Jesus says “when you fast” not “If you fast”. He assumes we will fast, it’s expected. Sadly fasting is one of the most neglected spiritual disciplines in Christian living. God created hunger. We must have food in order to live a long healthy life. When we feel hunger, rather than running to the refrigerator, we should think of God and how he wonderfully created us to need food.
But how often do we think of it that way? Fasting puts us in an intentional position to do without food, or if not food whatever we are fasting from, and to feel a distinct void. This void should then heighten our attention to prayer and devotion to the one who has created us. Fasting and praying are important because they connect us to the heart of God.
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