Tuesday 21 February 2023

Believers' Prayer Meeting with The Saint | R 15 W 4 D 2.

Welcome to The Upper Room. So glad you made it.

We continue with our meditations in The Book of Daniel. We are presently on verses 2 and 3 of Chapter 10, The Daniel Fast. It reads, 

"In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled."

The first two points we see in the verses are included in the phrase, "was mourning for three full weeks." It tells us first that fasting is a type of mourning or godly sorrow. This is in tandem with other references in scripture. The most popular of these references include "sackcloth and ashes." 

This was a sign of godly sorrowing and or penitence in ancient culture, not limited to Judaism. We see the first reference to it in the New Testament in Matthew 11:21. It was an outward show of the state of the heart and mind. It represents a humbling (quieting, calming) of self before God.

This is paralleled by Daniel and Darius's abstinence from pleasure. They did not have to use sackcloth but rather adorned it in their disposition. Note it was not something they did for others to see, but it was rather a natural progression of an inward state to an outward expression.

The fast is not the sackcloth, nor the abstinence from pleasures. It was first and foremost the disposition of their hearts. It was that disposition that enforced an outward show, not the reverse. Unfortunately, by Jesus' days, the reverse at become the case. People had made it a religion.

The people were more about religious observance than the heart's deep sorrow (humbling, sobering, quieting, calming, repentance, penitence). Fasting had become a check-the-box activity for the accolades, and not the worship. 

I remember a pastor, on a pastoral board I once belonged, to making such a comment "in a big church like this how will people here we are not doing night vigils." Really? In his vain mind, night vigils were for show. It was a check-the-box. It was about what people will say. No wonder it was just as powerless. 

Not so is God's expectation of us. So, in Jesus' first reference to fasting in the New Testament (Matthew 6:17-18), he declares,

"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."

Here we see Jesus went as far as to annul even the hitherto popular cultural outward show of fasting. Not that it is wrong in itself, but the people were abusing it. They had lost the "unto God" part of it and were doing it as a "mere religious" show-off.

They were still going through the same stress of abstinence, but the power was absent. They had the form, but the power was gone. As you prepare for this lenten season, be careful to bring the "unto God" back to fasting.

Let's pray.

The Saint.

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