I was recently reading a book called Fasting by Pastor Jentezen Franklin. He pointed out how in Matthew 6, Jesus gave us three important keys to our spiritual walk – Give, Pray, Fast. They are three things that we might be familiar with. But how good are we at actually doing them?
Verses 2-4 say, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
The miraculous thing about giving is that it not only blesses the recipient, but it also blesses us as well. We feel so good about helping someone. And often times, God will bless us in return for what we did. And as Hannah Alexander mentioned recently, it is so much more fun to bless someone when the recipient does not know who did the blessing.
Verses 5-13 are familiar ones as they contain what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”
Prayer is our direct line to our Heavenly Father. We can reach Him at any time and He is always there. We will never get a busy signal. We will never get voicemail. God wants to hear from us and He eagerly awaits our call.
Verses 16-18 say, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Fasting might be the most difficult item of these three. Food is a crutch for many people. We look forward to each meal, especially if we are sharing meals with our loved ones. Many are addicted to sugar. Some of us have an especially difficult time just giving up coffee. The truth is that fasting is painful. But when we fast, if we go about it the right way and with the right motives, we are opening a door for God to come in. We are telling Him that we love Him above everything else. And we are allowing Him to come into our lives in a miraculous way. I love the way Pastor Franklin put it: “When you eliminate food from your diet for a number of days, your spirit becomes uncluttered by the things of this world and amazingly sensitive to the things of God.”
One thing that Jesus points out for each of these, is that we should not boast about them. So before speaking, we might pause and ask ourselves if we are mentioning something for recognition. If we are not sure, then it might be best to not say anything!
And one thing that Pastor Franklin pointed out in his book is that Jesus used the word when not if. Jesus said, “When you give…” and “When you pray…” and “When you fast…” He didn’t say “If you give…” or “If you pray…” or “If you fast…” So that is telling how important they each are in our spiritual walk.
Giving, praying, and fasting are three vital parts of our walk with God. Doing these things will draw us closer to God. I also believe they will open the door for miracles and blessings in our lives. However, that should not be our motive. We do them to honor God, which should be our motive in all of our actions. I aim to improve in these three areas this year, and I hope you will join me!
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas