Day 45: “They Will Fast”

Center Down

Our breath prayer for today: As you inhale, whisper, “We hunger and thirst…” As you exhale, whisper, “…for Your joyful Presence, O Lord.”

Slowly read aloud the following Scripture

And then some of the disciples of John [the Baptizer] came [to question Jesus].

John’s Disciples: What’s the story with fasting? We fast and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast!

Jesus:  When you celebrate—as at a wedding when one’s dearest friend is getting married—you d o n ot fast. Th e ti me will come when the Bridegroom will be taken from them. Then My friends and followers will fast. You would begin by washing and shrinking a patch you would use to mend a garment—otherwise, the patch would shrink later, pull away from the garment, and make the original tear even worse. You wouldn’t pour new wine into old wineskins. If you did, the skins would burst, the wine would run out, and the wineskins would be ruined. No, you would pour new wine into new wineskins—and both the wine and the wineskins would be preserved.  (Matthew 9:14-17, VOICE)

For further exploration:

Video: http://b.link/WineSkinExplainer http://unity.church/oldwineskin

Kingdom Prayer

Blessed Father, we thank You for our Church Family.

Thank You for the opportunity to pray and fast. Thank You for coming close to us as we come close to You. We are grateful that You are our God and we bless Your wonderful Name.  Heavenly Father, Your majestic Name fills the earth!  Your glory is higher than the heavens.  You have taught children and infants to tell of Your strength, silencing Your enemies and all who oppose You.  With all our hearts, we will praise You and tell of the marvelous things You have done.

Gracious Father, as a Church Family, it is Your will that we fast. During our time of fasting, we will give our bodies to You because of all You have done for us.  We will let them be living and holy sacrifices, the kind that You will find acceptable.  For we know that this is truly how we can worship You.  We will not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but we will let You, Father, transform us into new people by changing the way we think. Then, we will learn to know Your will for our lives, which is good and pleasing and perfect.   Father, we confess that we will be diligent in prayer without ceasing during this time of fasting.  We will meditate on Your Word day and night, and observe to do all that is within it.

Holy Spirit, show me those areas of my life that I need to surrender to the Father during the fast:

Holy Spirit, during our time of fasting please give us the power to overcome our fleshly appetites.  As we pray during the fast, Father, please speak to us and give us wisdom, increase our discernment and show us Your plans for our lives  Lord, as we pray, please hear our prayers.  Holy Spirit, teach us how to honor Jesus Christ, our Savior and to revere God, our Father, as we worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Righteous Father, forgive us as a Church Family for our sins.  Please forgive those for stubbornness, selfishness and/or rebellion.  Lord, forgive me for (list any sins that you have committed).

Holy Spirit, remind us all of those we need to forgive and help us to be quick to forgive.  As for me, Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance those I need to forgive. (Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to show you names or faces of people that you may need to forgive.  As He reveals them to you, say, “I forgive name of person(s).”  Now, trust the Lord to heal any wounds in your soul caused by unforgiveness.)

Holy Spirit, help us all not to yield to temptation but deliver us from the evil one.

Holy Lord, You alone are God.  You are great!  You are robed with honor and majesty.  You are dressed in a robe of light.  You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens.  You lay the rafters of Your home in the rain clouds.  You make the clouds Your chariot and ride upon the wings of the wind.  The Lord of Heaven’s  Armies is Your Name!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture References for the Written Text:  James 4:8, Psalm 8:1-2,

Psalm 9:1, Romans 12:1-2, I Thessalonians 5:17, Joshua 1:8, Matthew 6:13, Psalm 104:1-3

Concepts to Consider

Jesus’ assumption is that His “friends and followers will fast” after He is no longer physically present with them.  Why?  In context, the fasting question seems to be about the appropriateness (the when and how) of the fast.  Jesus’ authority as a rabbi  (teacher) also seems to be called into questions here, as rabbis were held responsible for their students’ behavior.  But even more shocking in this context, is Jesus’ bold proclamation that He is the Bridegroom of Israel–and by extension His nascent Church.  The “new wine” and “new cloth” of the joyful arrival of Israel’s  long-suffering Husband is Good News, indeed!  The Lord had finally come to rescue His people, walk among them, and make things right!  (See also: Mark 2:18-22, Luke 5:31-39; John 2:25-30.)

Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, we see God using the metaphor of marriage and betrothal to indicate His covenant love for and commitment to His Chosen People, Israel (e.g., Hosea 2:16; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Isaiah 54:1; Leviticus 21:14). 

This is why the Book of Revelation ends with a Wedding Feast.  It is a consummating image of the Lamb of God, Jesus, the Bridegroom of restored Israel and the Church.  But in the meantime, while we wait on the final culmination of all the Promises of God in Christ Jesus, it is appropriate to fast in preparation for and in anticipation of the ultimate return of our Bridegroom.

The Rabbinic sages who wrote the Jerusalem Talmud (TalMOOD, “learn instruction;” a compilation of ancient Jewish commentary and teaching)  and later European rabbis taught that one’s wedding was similar to the Day of Atonement (which would have likely involved preparatory fasting).  It was viewed as a day of forgiveness, wholeness, and (re)union. Any preparatory fasting would have been broken with the wedding feast after the marriage ceremony and seven days of feasting and joyfulness would have ensued!

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult     and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come,     and His Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.…Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:6-9, ESV)

Reflection Questions
  1. Personal Reflection: If, as followers of Jesus, we are invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb (not just as guests but as an actual part of the Bride of Christ, the Church) how does that transform your ideas about fasting as preparation for your ultimate destiny in the New Creation?
  2. Kingdom Reflection: How does it make you feel to know that through fasting you are actually involved in the purification of the Bride of Christ to make her ready for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb?  What are your thoughts? How does that play out in how you view the world around you?

Optional Time of Centering/Soaking:

If possible, take some time, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to get into a comfortable position and simply allow the Lord to minister to you at a deep level (Psalm 42:7).  Turn off or put down all distractions. Close your eyes. Hold in your thoughts a meaningful word,  phrase,  or image from the Scripture you read today.  Release all other thoughts and concerns into the Presence of the Lord.  If your thoughts wander, that’s okay, just gently return to your Scriptural word, phrase, or image.  You may want to set a timer.

Notes:

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