If you missed Lead Pastor Ben Snyder’s video in yesterday’s study, take a moment and listen to it as he shares vision for this year’s LivingItOut Bible Study, and invites you to journey along with us through the New Testament.
Vision for the 2019 LivingItOut: Video
Today’s Scripture Reading: Mark 2
We’re three days into the 21 days of fasting and prayer—how are you feeling? They say the third day is the worst when we give something up, so if you decided to fast from something, you might find yourself wondering, “Why am I doing this?”
When starting a fast (or any religious practice), it’s good to decide why you’re doing it before you start. If you’re fasting because Ben Snyder told you to, or because the rest of your church is fasting, you might not find the motivation to get through 21 days (or maybe even today). If you’re fasting to prove you can do it, either to yourself or someone else, that might be enough motivation, but the fast also might not be very beneficial to your spiritual growth.
Without a proper “why,” spiritual practices can become empty rituals or, even worse, a way of showing we’re more “spiritual” than those around us. That’s how the Pharisees of Jesus’s time treated the law and spiritual practices. In Mark 2, Jesus has four interactions with the Pharisees, each of which shares a similar structure. Each time, the Pharisees (either in thought or out loud) question Jesus’ actions. “Why is he forgiving sins?” they ask. “Why is he associating with sinners? Why doesn’t he make his disciples fast? Why does he let them break the Sabbath?”
Practices like fasting aren’t bad—there is a time and place for them, and they can help us grow closer to God. But we must approach them with the right heart. The Pharisees followed every rule of the law (including some rules they had made up themselves), but they did not do so for the right reasons. They were so caught up in the practices, they missed the point—they didn’t see their Messiah when he was standing right in front of them! And so, they missed Jesus and his mission on earth.
When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Are you currently fasting by abstaining from something? If so, why? If not, why not?
Do you feel you started this fast with your heart in the right place?
Put into words why you’re fasting. Some possible reasons are: as an act of worship, to help refocus your priorities onto God, or to help focus your prayers for something.
Decide on something or someone to fast and pray for each day of our current 21-Days Prayer season.
21 Days of Prayer -Day 3
Prayer Focus: Search My Heart (Psalm 139:23-24)
Father God, I ask You to search my heart. If You find anything in me that is offensive, please show me and help me remove it from my life. Lead me to live a life that draws people to You. Help me live my life on earth in a way that impacts eternity.”
This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton Lechner is a college grad currently working at her local library. In her spare time, she volunteers as an ESL teacher and freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.
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