JANUARY 2, 2023
Starting The New Year Right
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights He fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If You are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order His angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” Next the devil took Him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to You,” he said, “if You will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.’” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus. (Matthew 4:1-11)
It’s always wise to get prepared for something before you begin. In today’s Scripture, we find Jesus preparing for His earthly ministry. After growing up and living in Nazareth, He demonstrated His willingness to accept the Heavenly Father’s earthly mission for His life when He was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River (Luke 3:20-21). At His baptism, Jesus’ acceptance of His mission was supported by the Holy Spirit showing up in the form of a dove, and by God the Father who said from Heaven, “You are My beloved Son, and You bring Me great joy.”
Now, as Jesus prepared to carry out His mission on earth, He began with 40 days of prayer and fasting (at Celebration we are beginning 2023 with 14 days of prayer and fasting). Prayer and Fasting were important to Jesus and other followers of God in His day, and have been important for Christians throughout the centuries. One reason is because Praying and Fasting help people focus on God so they can discover more about His will for their lives. These two disciplines also help Christians become stronger spiritually and more empowered by God’s Spirit so they can overcome the temptations and trials brought into their lives by the Devil and devilish people. Praying and Fasting intensifies our prayers for ourselves and others and helps us see the results of our requests.
Here are different types of “Fasting” efforts where Christians can participate:
- Complete Fasts - abstaining from all foods for a period of time
- Partial Fasts - abstaining from all or certain foods on a varied schedule
Some examples include:
- Choosing to abstain from eating two meals a day (i.e. Breakfast and Lunch)
- Choosing to abstain from eating certain foods (i.e. Meats, Sweets, Wheats…)
- Alternative Fasts - abstaining from activities, hobbies, or pleasures for a period of time. Some examples include:
- Choosing to abstain from social media, video games, or television
- Choosing to abstain from entertainment, sports, or recreation
- Choosing to abstain from bad thinking, gossip, and critical words
Praying during your time of fasting is even more important than what you are fasting. If people fast and don’t pray, they’re just going on a diet. One purpose of fasting is to give up something for a period of time so we will have more time for God through worship, prayer, and Bible reading. Prayer connects us with the person and power of God, so that we, others, and the world around us can experience His healing, delivering and transforming power.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Determine what type of fast you are going to participate in during the 14 Days Of Prayer And Fasting and then decide how much time each day you will spend in prayer. (If you’re leading your family through the emphasis, guide them through this activity, helping each participant decide how they will fast and how much time they will spend in prayer).
Lord, I ask that You will help me faithfully pray and fast during this prayer and fasting emphasis. As I do, I pray that I will draw closer to You, hear from You, and see You responding to my prayers in powerful ways. In the name of Jesus, Amen.