Day Three – A Prayerful Practice
Fasting Date: Wednesday, February 7, 2018
“Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.”
(Nehemiah 9:1-2 ESV)
If you read through the passages in the Bible that speak of fasting, you will see that this practice is almost always paired with prayer; especially prayers of personal confession. Prayer and fasting go hand in hand. This makes sense when you stop to think about it. We often find that as we humble ourselves before God, denying our flesh the food it demands, God helps us to see more clearly the sin that yet resides in our hearts. He might show us pockets of pride or give us glimpses of self-centeredness that we were blind to before. He may also reveal sins that have been a part of our heritage for generations. Prayer, then, is a means of expressing what God exposes through fasting. As we intentionally lift our eyes from our earthly appetites to focus on God and to draw near to Him, prayer helps us (in the words of Hebrews 12:1) to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” so that we might “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
As you draw near to God and he grants you a greater awareness of sin in your life, remember that the Spirit’s aim in uncovering sin is to lead you to conviction, not condemnation. These sins are meant to be confessed and laid at the cross, where Jesus paid for them in full, so that we can be cleansed of that which dims our view of God or dulls our affections for him.
Reflection: 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Set aside some time to talk with God, asking him to search your heart and reveal areas where there is a need for confession. Then ask God to help you not only admit those sins, but to turn away from them in true repentance.