Prayer and Fasting (3) - Missional Fasting & Application(s)

As a means of missional engagement, fasting moves us, in humble but bold dependence, to expect from God great things in the advancement of his kingdom. Matthew 6:17-18 puts it like this, “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.”

Of course, the question that immediately pops up is: “What sort of ‘reward’ is Jesus talking about?” Using the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9-13, John Piper offers the following answer:
[T]he reward we are to seek from the Father in fasting is not first or mainly the gifts of God, but God himself. . . . It begins with three main longings that we are to hope for from God. First, that God’s name be hallowed or revered; second, that God’s kingdom come; and third, that his will be done on earth the way it’s done in heaven. That is the first and primary reward Jesus tells us to seek in our praying and our fasting. . . . The supremacy of God in all things is the great reward we long for in fasting. His supremacy in our own affections and in all our life-choices. His supremacy in the purity of the church. His supremacy in the salvation of the lost. His supremacy in the establishing of righteousness and justice. And his supremacy for the joy of all peoples in the evangelization of the world (78-79).
This means that fasting (again, in conjunction with prayer, worship and God’s Word) is a means of passionately laying hold of God as the Great Giver and Rewarder of those “ask, seek and knock.”

  1. As you fast, stay aware of how your mind, body and heart are responding to your want for food. Do you find it harder to handle stress, to control your temper, to relax at the end of the day or to simply enjoy life? How has food (or whatever it is you’re fasting from) subtly replaced God as your heart’s hope and trust?
  2. Allow the physical hunger and discomfort of fasting drive you to God. Use your basic need for food as a way of reconnection to your even more basic need for God. Go to God often and be quick to admit your need of Him in all areas of your life: physical, emotional and spiritual.
  3. While fasting, ask God to move in both general and specific ways. Generally, you can use the following two prayers to help shape your time with God. Specifically, take time to pray for the lost people in your life and make sure to mention their particular needs: physical, emotional and spiritual.


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