When we may be on the precipice of a possible fall and our brain is exhausted or we need change in our lives, we will search our hearts for answers and call out to God. It is the heart that cries out to God for change, in love, hate and a myriad of emotions which are involved in the development of our relationship with God and our fellow man.
All of us have faced challenges whether that is on a personal level or in a group situation such as the family, church, work and so on and as Christian we ask God to help us. We may do that by prayer on a daily bases but in some very difficult or stressful time we may go into a fast to see the hand of God moving in our lives and hearts.
This was something that I wrote while mediation on some issues of life.
The Sea of Life.
We are but little ships on the sea of life.
With our sails set to catch the gentle breeze.
Or the roaring forties.
We set our course with a dream and desire.
Onwards upwards directly to our goal.
Not thinking of another course.
But God with His infinite wisdom.
Knows the right direction.
In which we should sail.
The seas may roar.
They may tumble and roll.
Our little ship may be tossed to and fro.
We cry out to God.
To still the storm.
And somehow we are righted once again.
To sail into tranquil waters and safe shores.
Knowing we have endured.
We have overcome.
Jeremiah 33:3 Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and inscrutable things which you do not know. (MKJV)
God will always answer the cry of the heart in some way, shape or form and sometimes it not exactly the way we wanted, but it turns out to be the best for us.
Before we can understand the purpose and power found in prayer and fasting we need to know what God is looking for.
When David said in Psalm 51:10-17, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” we can see the cry of his heart.
As I have quotated in another book, ‘We can find about 400 places in Scripture that say the ‘heart ‘, is a place of intellect, thought, emotions, character, love, compassion and faithfulness ; all of which God uses to change our world for good, if we answer the call.’
David had reached the precipice of a fall in his life and needed to change; he prays for forgiveness and for the grace of God to be poured out on him. He pleads by petition for cleansing and promises to show thanksgiving in his life.
Some may think that we only live under grace in the New Testament and that is true; but as grace has always been part of God’s nature it has always been available to man in the Old and New Testament times. The first example that I have found is in Genesis 3:21 when God killed the innocent animal and covered man’s sin. This was the forerunner of Jesus who died on the Cross as an innocent man.
In our Bible we find two words for grace, the first is in the Old Testament, chên (khane) H2580, in the Hebrew language. The next is found in the New Testament which in Greek is charis (khar’-ece) G5485. Both words signify subjectively or objectively: liberty, pleasure, gratitude and gift of favour from the Divine, a divine influence upon one’s heart. The Merriam-Webster dictionary regards grace as a virtue coming from God in the form of unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.
David wanted this grace but he knew that the Law of righteousness was gained by his conscience, animal blood sacrifices (atonement) and believing with the act of repentance. It is important for us to understand in the Old Testament times, that righteousness is the ability to keep the whole Law. To fulfil righteousness in the Age of Law, everyone had to keep all the Law all the time as set out in the first five books of our Bible, built on the foundation of the blood sacrifice and prayers of repentance offered to God in an act of atonement.
But David comes to a greater revelation of grace, as can be seen in Psalm 51:10-17. We see more of this development understanding later in history in the New Testament.
How can we find out if we are under the Law or grace?
If we say:
• I must pray and fast to get more from God, then this is under the Law.
• I want pray and fast, to understand God more, then this is under grace.
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways; and sinners shall be converted to You. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of shedding blood, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. 15 O Jehovah, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. 16 For You do not desire sacrifice; or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. (MKJV)
As we can read in verses 16 and 17 David understand that God is not asking for a sacrifice but a heart of true remorse that desires a deeper relationship with Him. In 1Samuel 15:22 it is telling us that it is better to obey than to sacrifice. To listen is better than the fat of rams!
Finally we come to the motivation or purpose of prayer and fasting and that can be simply put this way, to know God, the moving of the Holy Spirit and His Son more intimately, as in knowing their will in our given situation.
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (MKJV)