WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
OCTOBER 17, 2020
TOPIC: WHEN YOU PRAY AND FAST
BY T. O. BANSO
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites…Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites” (Matthew 6:5, 16 New King James Version).
In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus dealt with three important subjects: When you give (verses 1-4), when you pray (verses 5-14) and when you fast (verses 16-18).
Verse 3 says, “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (New King James Version). Verse 5: “But you, when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites” (New King James Version). Verse 16: “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance” (New King James Version).
My focus is not on when you give, but on when you pray and when you fast. This is understandable because we usually talk about prayer and fasting. But the truth is that the three should go together. When you pray and fast, you should give – do charitable deeds.
In addressing the subject of praying and fasting, Jesus taught his listeners against the backdrop of the hypocritical practices of the religious people of his days. He taught that they should not emulate them.
Matthew 6:5-7 says, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (New King James Version).
Pay attention to these words of Jesus when you pray. Jesus was not against praying in public, but hypocritical practices. The Message renders verse 5 thus: “Don’t be like the hypocrites; be real. Don’t turn that into a theatrical production.”
From Matthew 6:5-7, you can learn that when you pray, find a quiet, secluded place to pray. The focus should be God, not you or others. When you pray, avoid empty recitation of words – don’t say things that mean nothing.
Teaching further about prayer in verses 9-15, the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus also said that when you pray, worship God, desire His will, be specific in your request, ask forgiveness of your sins, forgive those who have wronged you. When you pray, pay attention to all this. Elsewhere, the Bible talks extensively about forgiveness (Mark 11:25, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12-13).
When you fast, what should you do differently from the hypocrites? “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:16-18 New King James Version).
When you fast, don’t call attention to yourself. Don’t look hungry and angry! – Nobody forced you to fast. Don’t make it the topic of discussion. Let it be between you and God. Of course, your spouse or close family members may know so that they don’t get worried that you’re not eating. It is only when it’s a corporate fast that church members may know you’re fasting. Not all members fast during corporate fasting!
Avoid hypocrisy when you pray and fast. If you want God to reward you, don’t try to impress anyone. Focus on God. God answers prayer. Pray in faith, Pray according to His will. Believe that He has answered you and thank Him. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 New King James Version).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I receive the grace to pray, fast, and give, not like the hypocrites. I shall focus on You, Father, when I pray, not myself or others. I shall avoid empty recitation of words. Holy Spirit, help me to pray according to the will of God.
(For over 300 in-depth and powerful messages by T.O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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