This one only comes out by fasting and praying

Living often means facing challenges, problems and obstacles. We often enjoy confronting these situations and overcoming. It confirms our self worth and validates our belief that we are intelligent and capable. But none of this teaches us to depend on God and trust in his power. Occasionally God allows situations that seem insurmountable.  Situations that nothing in our past has prepared us to deal with or problems that are just too great for us to solve. We are forced to turn to God for help. It is a wonderful thing when we can approach him with faith. But what if we can’t?

Perhaps this is a problem too great for God. Blaspheme you say. Well isn’t that what we are thinking, when we surrender and give up all hope? We are saying this problem will never be solved. This obstacle cannot be removed. God can’t do it.

Jesus explains that what we lack is faith. He also sends us to do something that has become less and less popular these days, pray and fast. We have become adventurers in a fast paced world of digital wonder and bright lights. Who has time for a quiet moment with God? But for all the wonder of our generation it does not compare to the power and glory of God. This is not discovered in virtual reality, but in spiritual reality. It is discovered on our knees.

This power can transform, heal, and enlighten. It turns sinners into saints, and the weak into conquerors. The foolish become wise and the enslaved are set free.

In Matthew 17 a desperate father brings his child to Jesus. He believes Jesus can set him free. The boy was afflicted with demons that caused the boy to have seizures, throw himself into fire and other times into water.  This evil spirit had every intention of tormenting and destroying this child.

The man reported that the disciples had tried and failed. Jesus rewards the man’s faith and sets his child free, but not before these words ” O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.”  Later he tells the disciples that to cast out this demon they needed to fast and pray more.

Taking time out regularly to pray and fast is not like doing an extra credit assignment. We shouldn’t do it if there is time and when we feel like it. We should purposely make the time to pray and fast. This should be quiet time where we worship God and present all our cares. This is time we spend remembering all the needs of those around us and our entire community.

The problems we face are great and real. Many we will not solve on our own. Faith in God will be required. The kind of faith prayer warriors and those that fast will have.

 

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Jesus receives strength

Jesus, the messiah, God made flesh, showed a whole range of emotions. He was angry when He turned over the tables in the temple and cast out the money changers. He proclaimed that His house would be a house of prayer. He was welcoming and loving to many, especially the children that the disciples tried to keep away. He was merciful to the women found in adultery and the unpopular tax collector Zacchaeus . However it was in the garden of Gethsemane that Jesus came face to face with the terror of being a human sacrifice so that the world may be saved. He knew he was going to be killed in the most horrific way. However the scariest event to come might have been the necessary separation He would feel on the cross when the full weight of humanities’ sins would be upon Him. This is when He said,

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matthew 27:46)

Jesus Had never felt apart from the father his entire existence from the very beginning as related both in John and Genesis.

John says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)In the same chapter he also says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) This is Jesus.

We get another clue of Jesus’ eternal past with the father in Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” That “us” includes the father and the son.

Jesus Knew he would be forsaken, spat upon, beaten whipped, forced to ware a crown of thorns, and left to die on a cross. (Matthew 26:57-Matthew 27:50) In Gethsemane Luke reveals that even Jesus received the necessary comfort and strength from God to soldier on.

An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:43-44)

Through prayer and the Father’s support Jesus was able to complete the greatest mission ever, the way of Salvation for all Humanity. We too can soldier on under the most horrific circumstances through prayer and God’s support.

It is now up to us to believe and we will reap a great reward, not only strength and support through difficult times, but the greatest gift of all, our Salvation.

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A closer walk with God

…he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Daniel 6:10

The windows were opened and you could see Daniel praying as he always did. He prayed three times a day without fail, just as David had mentioned in his Psalms. Problem was praying to God was illegal in Babylon. Daniel wasn’t concerned. The punishment for praying to God was you would become cat food, in particular cuisine for hungry lions. Well they had to get fed somehow.

Daniel had been captured by the Babylonians and had been forced to serve the King. (Daniel 1:1-7) He had proven himself to be wiser than all of the King’s servants and was even in line for a major promotion before the illegal prayer incident. (Daniel 6:3) His secret was a close relationship with God. Prayer was vital to this relationship and nothing would stop him from his private personal time with God. It was God who had blessed Daniel with incredible success, wisdom and protection in this foreign land. God spoke with Daniel and watched over him. He provided him with guidance, peace and comfort, so necessary under his circumstances.

A close walk with God is essential in these times as well. Economic challenges, war and threats of war, dwindling natural resources, decline in educational success , a rise in crime, unemployment especially among young college graduates, drug abuse, threats to family unity and prosperity, decaying faith across society and countless other challenges necessitates a genuine relationship with God, a relationship that begins and is sustained with prayer.

Jesus challenged his disciples to pray at least an hour (Matthew 26:40-41), and Paul encouraged us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This does not mean we spend our entire lives on our knees or with our eyes closed. No need to walk into walls. It means that we communicate with God throughout the entire day, asking for guidance, strength, peace and offering our gratitude and praise. David mentioned praying morning, noon and evening. (Psalm 55:17) Daniel was known to pray three times a day as well. (Daniel 6:10)

Daniel was arrested and thrown into the Lion’s Den. However wherever Daniel was, there was God. That’s what happens when you have a close relationship with God. Daniel was not harmed and was released the next day. (Daniel 6:21)

We all want God to work just as miraculously in our lives. But we cannot ignore the relationship Daniel had with God. We can all have a closer walk with God. Like any relationship it starts with regular and sincere communication. We only need to speak to Him and He will hear us where we are. He is anxious for us to reap the eternal blessings that come from truly knowing Him.