Posts Tagged ‘ Fasting ’

Sermon on the Mount study notes – Matthew 6:5-18

I have started a small group series on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). I am sharing my notes in case anyone else wants to use them with their group. [Reminder that these are only notes!]

Sermon on the Mount – Part 10

Matthew 5:1-2:
Jesus wants to teach the crowds: Who are they? Jewish disciples: People who understand the
Scriptures (at least to a point). Notice from 7:28 the crowds still came along, but this teaching is for His disciples.

What does “blessed” mean?
Based on the first twelve verses, blessed means realizing our own wretchedness and need for a Savior. In other words, it is becoming/being a Christian.

What was discussed last time?
• Giving to the needy
• Love your neighbor as yourself
o We are serving Christ when we serve others.

Matthew 6:1:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people …”
• Jesus is continuing from this point: why do we fast and pray?

What does Jesus repeat throughout the first half of ch. 6?

“They have received their reward … And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:5,16:
Fasting and Praying:

  • Why do we fast and pray? (Surface-level, observation of people)
    • Because we are supposed to.
    • Because we want something.
      • From God, and this is how we make God see we’re serious
      • From people, and this is how we show them we are holy and serious
  • Why should we fast? (Real, biblical reasons)
    • Prepare
      • Ministry
      • Event/Life-change
    • Seek
      • Wisdom
      • Deliverance (spiritual attack, for loved ones)
      • Victory (over sin, circumstances)
    • Repent
      • Personal sins
      • Corporate sins
        • Family
        • Congregation
        • Community
        • Region
        • Nation – World
    • Grief/Healing
    • Worship

Matthew 6:6,17-18:
Do we only pray private prayers or only fast secretly?

  • No, because what about all of the calls to public, corporate prayer/fasting?
  • It is a matter of the heart: why are we doing it? For show, or to seek God?

Matthew 6:7-8:
Think of what Jesus means (Compare 2 Corinthians 10:5):

  • Pagan meditation:
    • Clearing mind of all thought
    • Focused on a desire (i.e. The Secret)
  • Pagan prayers:
    • Some are “okay”, sure, but Jesus is speaking to the prayers of mindlessly speaking or repeating a specific prayer or chant over and over in the hopes that a god will hear.
      • Stream-of-consciousness
  • Not bad in and of itself, but unfocused and unthinking.
  • The matter of “speaking in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14)
    • Tongues is supposed to be “for the unbeliever” as a sign
      • Repeating a word or phrase repeatedly.

So, what about The Lord’s Prayer?

Matthew 6:9-13:
Seems repetitive to say every day/week:

  • Is this a command to pray this way:
    • Not exactly: Jesus says “Pray in this manner” and not necessarily “Pray these words.”
    • It’s not bad to repeat a good prayer!
  • What is Jesus saying?
    • Compare Luke 11:1-4 (11:5-13 shows up in Matthew 7:7-11)
      • Jesus was specifically asked how to pray (not what to pray)
    • How do we pray?
      • Worship God (hallowed, or holy, be Your name)
        • Do we live in such a way that shows God’s holiness?
      • Help us live out God’s will (Your Kingdom come …)
        • Are we fulfilling the Great Commission?
      • Meet our needs (Give us this day …)
        • Are we trusting in His sovereignty, grace, and mercy?
      • Repentance (forgive us …)
        • We mess up, but also remember one of the reasons for fasting: praying for our lost loved ones
      • Help (lead us not …)
        • To get through each day but also in emergencies
    • Notice these are not numbered nor too specific!
    • If we know the reasoning, it is not bad to recite the prayer. It can help focus us on Christ.
    • It is not a thing to be done as penance/punishment (Yes, this is a jab at the Catholic Church)

Matthew 6:14-15:
Again, focused on our hearts/minds:

  • If we hold grudges, are we showing we don’t understand forgiveness?
    • Malice and hatred are the antithesis of grace and mercy
    • We might not actually be saved.
  • Have you forgiven yourself?
    • This is not to say “If you can’t forgive yourself, God won’t either.”
    • In spite of our sinfulness He saved us!
    • We might not actually be saved if we get too hung up on our sinfulness.
    • Believing we are unforgivable implies God can’t save us (blasphemy of the Holy Spirit)

Fasting and Prayer is to help us communicate with God, to change us.

“Prayer is for us, not God. He knows what we need, and we need Him.”

VerseD: Joel 2:12

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord , “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;”
Joel 2:12, ESV

To this day, we still rebel against God, and He still calls us to lament our sin and to repentance. He loves us and loves to forgive us when we turn to Him.

VerseD: Joel 2:12

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning”
Joel 2:12, ESV

In this life, it is never too late to turn (or return) to God.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. Seek His mercy and grace anew today.

VerseD: Joel 2:12

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord , “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
Joel 2:12 NASB

God is offended by our sin and pride, and we should be, too. He calls to change – our thinking and actions – and seek Him. By the power Jesus’ sacrifice and through the working of the Holy Spirit, He helps us and redeems us.

Christmas Fasting

In this most amazing season of Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of the Savior and King, it is a good idea for us to fast. However, when you read that, your mind no doubt specifically thought about food, and while that type of fasting is the most common, and has it’s benefits both physically and spiritually, it is not the kind of fast to which I’m referring.

I’m referring to the type of fast of which the Lord says:

Is this not the fast which I choose, to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”   Isaiah 58:6-7 NASB

So what is the fast that the Lord chooses? It is has two aspects: The first part of the passage can be interpreted in it’s simplest form as the importance of forgiveness (see Complete Forgiveness). This is extremely applicable in it’s own right, however, it’s the second part that is the focus of this article, and that is generosity. We must be generous, not just financially, but with whatever resources the Lord has given us, and if necessary, yes, to go without a meal or two so that someone who doesn’t have the means or ability to feed themselves can eat. This is the spirit of Christmas…the spirit of giving and forgiving.

How and what are you willing to give, to the point of going without it, this Christmas Season so that you may provide it for someone else?

About Jesse Walker

A Call To Prayer and Fasting

I am sure I am not the first nor last to issue such a proclamation, but I am at least to the first to do so this way!

This is a two-fold call, but God is calling for a fast:

  1. We must pray for the wildfires: the land destroyed, the lives devastated and inconvenienced, and for a quick end and rebuilding from the destruction.
  2. The youth of our nation. Specifically I wish to ask for prayers for the youth of my congregation who are going to a youth conference next week. We must pray for openness to the Holy Spirit, a clear direction from God, and a fiery passion for our Lord and Savior!

If you are a dedicated prayer warrior, you know what to do!

Some simple instructions:

  1. Take at least three days to fast. It is between you and God which days over the next week.
  2. Fast as God is calling you: complete fast, a “Daniel” fast (fruits and veggies, essentially), no technology, from driving … WHATEVER!
  3. Pray for the wildfires and our nation’s youth. (In fact, make it our global youth, and please think of “my” youth!)

You all know 2 Chronicles 7:14