Give, Pray, Fast
In Matthew 6:1-18, about half way through His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives instruction on three core practices for disciples: Giving, Praying, Fasting. His instructions include the why – motives are a big deal in Jesus’ teachings as he compares true disciples with the religious hypocrisy of his day – and the how to’s of these core practices. What I find fascinating is why Jesus would focus in on these three Core Practices. What does this say about our walk with God?
Giving, Praying, and Fasting are…
1. About Dependence on God.
Giving regularly, sacrificially, and cheerfully as prescribed in the Old Testament practice of Tithing and commended by Jesus and Paul, is meant to be a statement of faith that we recognize God as our provider and that we trust in God to make the ends meet.
Prayer is verbally confessing our hearts dependence upon God.
Fasting is setting aside food for the sake of growing in dependence upon God for essential need in our lives.
2. About Rejecting Selfishness and Idolatry.
When we commit to Giving, Praying, and Fasting as regular habits; selfishness and idols in our lives come into the light. Truth be told, my own selfishness and idolatry have kept me from true discipleship more than anything else. Obstacles to giving are often things that I want or things that I own (debts). Obstacles to praying often have to do with my own busyness. Are the things I’m doing really more important than time with God? Obstacles to fasting are often just about desire. God doesn’t expect me to try hard, does he?
3. About Gauging Your Desire for God.
Obedience to God , especially in the hard, unselfish task of giving, praying, and fasting, demonstrates that we have a true desire to know and follow God’s desire. Hesitancy and disobedience demonstrates a desire for other things. Period. What do your giving, praying, fasting say about the importance of your life as a disciple?
4. About Organizing Your Life Around Devotion to God.
You don’t have to be rich to give, but you do have to be organized. When you pray, Jesus says to go into a private room, shut the door and pray. This is not on the go praying, but an established time and place. Again, it takes organization. And when fasting, whether you’re giving up sugar, chocolate, a meal a week, or taking an extended break from food or some other pleasure, you will have to put some thought and planning into it. So, it takes some organization. Most people organize their church and religious life so that they can live, but Jesus is commending organizing your living so that you can give, pray, and fast.
So if I ask, “Do I Give, Pray, Fast?” What I’m really asking is, “Do I Depend on God? Am I selfish and Idolatrous? Do I have a desire for the things of God? Do I prioritize my time around core practices of devotion to God?”
What do these core practices mean to you? What do they reveal about your life as a disciple?