Summary: Does your soul hunger after God like the deer longs for the water brooks? One of the things that can stir up our hunger for God is the spiritual discipline of fasting.
THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER #7: HUNGER FOR GOD
(Aug. 2010 – Beausejour Church – Pastor Chris Jordan)
“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1).
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).
• I love the heart-cry of these Psalmists – they were hungry for more of God!
THE BIG IDEA: Does your soul hunger after God like the deer longs for the water brooks? One of the things that can stir up our hunger for God is the spiritual discipline of fasting.
“Then He said to him, "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ’Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ’I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ’I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ’I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” (Luke 14:16-20).
• All three of these men made excused instead of coming to the Kingdom.
• Possessions, work and family – even good things – can distract us from seeking God.
• This morning I want to challenge you to stir up our hunger for more of God.
QUOTE: (John Piper, Hunger for God).
“The weakness of our hunger for God is not because he is unsavory, but because we keep ourselves stuffed with “other things.” Perhaps, then, the denial of our stomach’s appetite for food might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God.” (p.10).
“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” (p.23).
I. FASTING IS A HUNGER FOR MORE OF GOD:
“Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:14-15).
• This is the time – while Jesus is in Heaven – when we, His disciples, will fast!
QUOTE: (John Piper, Hunger for God).
“The birthplace of Christian fasting is homesickness for God… Therefore, when I say that the root of Christian fasting is the hunger of homesickness for God, I mean that we will do anything and go without anything if, by any means, we might protect ourselves from the deadening effects of innocent delights and preserve the sweet longings of our homesickness for God.” (p.15).
II. JESUS TAUGHT THAT HIS DISCIPLES WOULD FAST:
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:16-18).
• Notice first of all that Jesus said WHEN you fast – this is assumed in a believer’s life!
• Corporate or public fasting isn’t wrong – there are many examples of it in the Bible.
• The main issue is that we don’t do it “to be seen by people.”
• Just because someone finds out you are fasting doesn’t mean you lose your reward.
• Our motivation in fasting should simply be our hunger for more of God.
III. THE CALL TO RETURN TO THE LORD – IN FASTING AND PRAYER:
“12 "Now, therefore," says the Lord, "Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. 14 Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him-- A grain offering and a drink offering For the Lord your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; 16 Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room.” (Joel 2:12-16).