“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
In concluding this series I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss fasting. Fasting is always something that the Bible, particularly Jesus seems to think we will simply do. “When you fast” is his statement, not “If you fast.” It is this assumption that bothers westerners. We have this notion that if we are not getting three meals a day and numerous snacks in between, we are starving and you can’t really keep this notion if you fast. Truth is we can go without food for a month if you are healthy. The physical limitations are really a non issue most of the time.
This issue of fasting with prayer gets interesting when you consider the story of Jesus casting out the demon from the boy right after being transfigured. his statement to the disciples – this kind comes out only through prayer and fasting might be an addition to the text but it does demonstrate that fasting has long been considered a part of the prayer process. It does something to the person who prays more than anything.
There is something to this setting aside things that are essentials and things we enjoy to spend greater or more quality time with God that gets God’s attention. It is perhaps the lesson fasting teaches that is the most important that sometimes we need to get our priorities straight and that means that God should come before everything even food at times. There is something about fasting that super-charges prayer for this reason. I don’t know how it works but it does.
In closing out this series I would have to say the choice about prayer is a simple one. Do we believe in it enough to actually do it and if so, how do we do it better and get results. The choice is yours.