Prayer and fasting
Holy Trinity Church Huddersfield, Sunday 20 January 2019
Last week’s sermon was about bearing fruit. It was also the overview for a sermon series.
This week we came to church in a subdued mood. We are in the emotional limbo between my mother-in-law two weeks ago and her funeral in ten days time. We are pretty much doing everything by routine. Church attendance is part of that routine.
I also arrived a little hungover as my Birthday was last week and the family celebration had been the previous night. Even so, we serve a great God, and I was still able to praise him in the service.
This week we moved on to talking about prayer and fasting, but the sermon started with talking about habits – habits can be good or bad.
“Can prayer change anything?” Vicar Mike asked. How can prayer lead us into fruitfulness? Jesus, we were shown from the Bible passage we were following, Matthew 6:5-17, was against formalism in prayer. He called those who made a big show in public of their prayers using eloquent words hypocrites. Strong stuff. However, Jesus recommended us to pray in a private place. Prayer is about having a relationship with God. God is unimpressed with an outward show of piety.
Mike also spoke about our motivation to pray. He recommended that we fix a time and place. Mike told us how he found time each morning. Mine, when there were three young children in the house, would be to go to the only place I would not be disturbed, the bath. Before that, it was in the early evening when I was winding down after work. For me to jump out of bed to pray would be inappropriate, I want to give God of my best and mornings are far from my best.
Our prayer, as Jesus taught in the passage, is about God’s will being done. It is simple prayer, like the simple prayer he taught, we are to bring to God what we have on our hearts and minds and not what we think there ought to be on our hearts and minds. Prayers are simple expressions of where we are.
Then there’s fasting? There wasn’t much said about this discipline and even less on this blog. The thing that got my attention was that Jesus seemed to make it out that it was part and parcel of our being with God and that fasting is to deepen our trust in God.