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Fast & Pray

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” How do these words of Jesus apply to prayer and fasting?

Fast and pray! Deny yourself and follow Jesus’ example.

Jesus told his followers, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)  But how would that apply to prayer and fasting?  

Jesus clearly believed in the power of prayer and fasting; he spent a lot of time in prayer and he kicked off his ministry after a period of fasting. In response to people who were praying and fasting for some wrong reasons, Jesus encouraged his followers to pray and fast “in secret.”  

Pray and Fast In Secret, Free From Distraction

What does praying and fasting in secret mean? Jesus wants  you to focus on seeking God without distraction and without concern about what others might think. And if you do that, Jesus promises that God, as a loving Father, “will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6 and 6:18)

It’s easy for us to get caught up in self-serving distractions. If we’re honest about it, we’ll find that many of those distractions are really quite trivial. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and to follow him. So... let’s practice some self denial and spend some time following Jesus’ example through prayer and fasting.  

Getting Started with Prayer and Fasting

Prayer and fasting don't have to be intimidating. These simple practices can help us connect more deeply with God! Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Try praying daily. Start small if you’re new at it. Dedicate 5 or 10 minutes for focused prayer and offer up short prayers throughout the day. You can build up from there.

  • Consider fasting once or twice a month - perhaps just a meal. If your health doesn't allow for a total fast, consider giving up a favorite food or dessert on occasion.  

Remember Jesus’ example - not only did he spend time praying and fasting, he encouraged his followers to do the same.

Pray and Ask for God's Help

Not sure where to start? Pray for strength and discipline, God wants good things for you!

Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending your son Jesus to show me how to have a wonderful relationship with you. Please help me to deny myself and follow Jesus. Strengthen me as I seek to develop the discipline to fast and pray. Although I may not fully understand how, by faith I believe that you will reward me if I am faithful to follow Jesus’ teaching. Amen

Read the Word

Many of the Psalms in the Bible are prayers. Read through the Psalms and reflect on the beautiful words as you develop and deepen your own prayer life. Jesus also provided an example of how we should pray - use the outline he provided in the Lord's prayer to get started.

Daniel in the Bible was a man very disciplined in prayer and fasting. The book of Daniel is full of amazing stories of his faith and connection to God.

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