Fasting and Prayer: A 10 Week Bible Study, Week 1
The following devotional Bible study is based on our book Fast Friends: The Amazing Power of Friendship, Fasting and Prayer, available at Lifeway Stores, Barnes and Nobles, Amazon.com (http://ow.ly/2bvzuL) and other online retailers. While we are not theologians, we are students of the Bible and followers of Jesus Christ. We are two average women who want more of Jesus, and we have made the sacrifice to pray and fast together one day a week—a journey we share in much more detail in our book. We see an important link between fasting and prayer, and we want you to see that too through a personal study of God’s word. Although there is no biblical command to fast and pray, there are certainly reports in scripture showing God’s people engaged in these spiritual disciplines. We are offering you a free ten-week downloadable Bible study for your research into fasting and prayer.
Followers of Jesus are all charged with this message from scripture: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, nasb). If you are in Christ, you have the Holy Spirit to guide you into the truth of God’s word. For that reason, we will share the Bible stories, their location in scripture, and a few questions to spur you on to your own study. We will not expound on the Bible’s accounts. Instead, we will leave you to wrestle with your own findings and seek the Lord for answers. If you will commit to this process, you will be fulfilling 2 Timothy 2:15, becoming a student of the truth. Our hope is that this process will bring you into such closeness with God that you will truly learn what it means to have Jesus as your first love. We are praying for you.
Jesus and the “When’s”, Matthew 6
In preparation for the questions below please read Matthew, chapter 6
Matthew 6 is one of the most well-known and well-loved chapters of the New Testament. It is part of Jesus’s pivotal Sermon on the Mount, which is found in Matthew 5-7. So much of Christ’s most important teachings on living are contained in these three chapters.
- What three Christian disciplines are highlighted in the following verses?
Verses 2-3: The discipline of …
Verses 5-15: The discipline of …
Verses 16-18: The discipline of …
- Each of these sections begins with the words “When you ….” What does this tell you about Jesus’ expectation for His followers? What does this indicate to you when Jesus uses these words to preface His remarks about fasting?
- What was a warning Jesus gave in verse 16 to those practicing fasting?
- It was common in His day for the Pharisees to fast and put ashes on their heads to publicly signify their suffering and sacrifice. What ways do Christians today try to make their “holiness” known before others?
- What instruction does Jesus give in verse 17 for the way He would like you to fast?
- Who is to notice your fast?
- What is the promise in verse 18 that accompanies this kind of fast, and how does this help or encourage you?
- Verses 19-34 deal with prioritizing God as the first love in our lives. There are four “do not” commands given by Jesus. What are they?
Verse 19: Do not …
Verse 25: Do not …
Verse 31: Do not …
Verse 34: Do not …
- Do you try to keep a regular appointment to pray, worship and read the word? If not, what can you do to change that?
- How could giving, praying, and fasting help you grow in your ability to seek Him first (v. 33) and to trust Him more for your daily needs?
- How would your life or demeanor change if you were free from worry, and who would be impacted by such a change?
Suzanne and I have said repeatedly that it was the when that got us. Jesus did not say if you pray, but when you pray. Jesus did not say if you give, but when you give. And Jesus did not say if you fast, but when you fast. This passage and what we believe Jesus is saying here has impacted our lives in profound ways. The act of the when you fast has altered our lives for now and eternity because of the depth of relationship it has created with our Savior. I am sure you have heard it said “you will never know until you try it”. Whether it is food, the internet or TV or a partial fast as when Daniel fasted pleasurable foods and lotions, we highly encourage you to give it a try. If you seek Him you will find Him and He is the greatest treasure of all!