Keep your heart with all diligence – fasting & prayer

The Spirit of Truth brought several Holy Scripture passages to mind this morning, reminding me that all who call upon Him must stay upon their God:

Isaiah 50:10
Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.

The scriptures He brought to mind concern man’s heart, which we know from honest self-examination and Jeremiah 17:9 to be as follows:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

And:

Isaiah 44:20
He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?

We are furthermore instructed by God in Proverbs 4:23 to:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

How are we to do this? What gets in the way of loving God and your neighbour with ALL your heart, mind, soul and strength, as we are commanded to do (see Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27…this commandment is so critical that it appears in not one but three gospel testimonies).

I know from experience it is possible to not have your heart right with God: many worldly things tempt it and can obstruct the light of Christ. For example, it is known that man has 4 main appetites:

1. An appetite for Godly or spiritual things
2. An appetite for food
3. An appetite for reproductive matters
4. An appetite for worldly things that appeal to the self: “the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

Fasting and prayer is the great remedy for appetites 2 to 4 to be greatly diminished, thereby increasing your spiritual strength and faith. As per a section of an article I have reproduced from the following url:

http://www.revival-library.org/catalogues/miscellanies/prayer/hallfranklin.html

We read that “Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” And the very next sentence tells us that He fasted. Why did He fast at the very time He was being tempted? For we read in Luke’s Gospel that He was “forty days tempted,” and in those same forty days “He did eat nothing.” What is the connection between temptation and fasting? Is it not that fasting is the mightiest possible preparation of soul, to ensure victory over temptation? And would we not do well to follow our Lord’s example, and avail ourselves of this mighty weapon with which to meet and overcome him “who goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”?

We are not told in Matthew, chapter four, the reason for His fast. But in Matthew, chapter seventeen, Jesus explains it. Before this time His disciples were not able to bear this teaching. The great revelation of why He fasted was shown when He healed this lunatic boy, and answered the question that the disciples had asked Him: “Why could not we cast him out?” Matt. 17:19.

Please remember that Christ, as well as being God, was also in the flesh as man.

It seemed that the disciples had become a reproach, or disgrace to Christ, because they could not heal this individual. They apparently were ashamed of themselves so they came to Jesus secretly, to ask of Him the reason why they were not able to cast out the demons. Then the secret of Jesus’ fast was revealed, and He showed to them and to us what “Super-Atomic Power” one can have. Anyone can have that power, thank the Lord. All can have it that will follow the instructions given by Him, and plainly taught throughout the Bible. “Have Faith as a grain of mustard seed . . . and nothing shall be impossible unto you . . . by prayer and fasting.” Matt. 17:20, 21.

The disciples were helpless. No one could give help in this major prayer problem except One. That Person had fasted forty days and forty nights, and He was the only one in the midst who had so fasted. Praise His name!

However, Jesus clearly shows that anyone who had had a prayer and fasting experience could cast out the evil spirit, for He says, “This kind cometh out by prayer and fasting.” Our Lord teaches here the big difference between prayer alone, and prayer, combined with fasting.

In that momentous struggle of forty days of fasting JESUS had AVAILED HIMSELF OF THE MOST POWERFUL AID AT HIS DISPOSAL. Jesus fasted in order to secure His perfect faith from His humanity side, and He urged fasting upon His disciples to remedy their weak faith. He declared that they would fast, using the words, “Then will they fast,” and gave directions in Matthew chapter six, which are intended to ensure to all of His followers the same benefits of fasting which He obtained. The disuse of fasting is in direct opposition to the practice, example, and the teaching, of Christ.

There is no record of Christ healing the sick, or performing any miracle, until after he had fasted forty days and forty nights. After this mighty fast, and not before, He was fully equipped, capable, and prepared for any and all emergencies. At this moment, how much Faith have you at your disposal, to meet any obstacle?

Should you wait until the Lord lays a fasting burden on you?
No, not necessarily, for the simple reason that if we waited for God to lay a fasting burden upon us, there probably would be no fasting or very little. Fasting is like praying. We pray when there is a need, without waiting for a burden of prayer. We should also fast when there is a need, and because it is our Christian duty. In Mark 2:20, Jesus has already laid a fast upon us in these words, “Then shall they fast in those days.”

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