Learn About/Subscribe:
Christian Union

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

Many well-meaning Christians often feel somewhat paralyzed when they contemplate what it would look like to begin to take their faith more seriously, particularly with respect to daily spiritual disciplines.  What should I actually do? What should my mind be focused on?  What ought the aspirations of my heart be directed toward?  How do regular devotional times transition naturally into the life of discipleship the rest of the day?  The author of Hebrews offers a vision of following Jesus that is filled with both clarity and conviction.

Let’s begin by briefly exploring the macro-structure of Hebrews—yes, there is much complexity here in these 13 chapters, but ultimately the flow of thought is charmingly simple.   There are three major sections of Hebrews, focused (in order) on Jesus’ status and role as royal Son (1:1-4:13), as high Priest (5:1-10:18), and as the Pioneer and Forerunner of the people of God (10:26-13:25).  In between these three sections are two crucial transition passages (4:14-16 and 10:19-25). These two hinge passages contain remarkable parallels that together encapsulate the “so what” of the author’s theological vision: this is what he wants them to do in light of his remarkable exposition of the Gospel.  Consider the parallels between 4:14-16 and 10:19-25 for a moment:

Hebrews 4:14-16

Hebrews 10:19-25

Since We Have

Since We Have

Son of God

Son of God (1)

High Priest

High Priest

Passed Through the Heavens (2)

Opened a New and Living Way

Therefore

Therefore

Let Us Draw Near with Confidence

Let Us Enter/Draw Near with Confidence

Let Us Hold Fast the Confession

Let Us Hold Fast the Confession


These striking parallels confirm that the function of 4:14-16 and 10:19-25 is to provide a memorable, concise précis of the primary themes and goals of Hebrews.  All three central “categories” for Jesus’ person and work in Hebrews—Son, High Priest and Forerunner—appear conceptually in both passages. Three successive spiritual tasks are set before us in these dual hinge passages, together which the writer hopes will animate and shape the regular devotional life of the community of faith.  First, the author calls us to consider Jesus.  Look at what He has accomplished for you.  Contemplate the dignity and majesty of His person.  Second, draw near to God through Jesus.  Experience the grace and power and goodness of the Lord.  Let your heart be filled with hope and joy and new life in light of what you have understood of the Gospel.  Third, hold fast the confession of your faith in Him.  Pursue obedience!  As an outflow of prayer, fasting and worship find tangible, other-centered, God-honoring activities for your hands and feet throughout the day.  Put your knowledge and experience into practice.

In other words, the spirituality of Hebrews has intellectual content (the person and work of Jesus in the Gospel, above all else) for our minds to focus upon when we turn to prayer.  The devotional life of the follower of Jesus is not mentally directionless or endlessly flexible; we are to set our minds on the concrete story of Jesus and its implications for our lives.  Think about the Gospel every day.  Get your mind wrapped around the logic of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus to God’s right hand.  Understand how this relates to the larger story of creation, fall, and redemption launched in the Old Testament Scriptures (Hebrews cites and alludes to the OT constantly), and how it points forward to the future consummation of God’s purposes through Christ and the church.  If we do not grasp these things well, or if we regularly ignore them in our devotional practices, the radical discipleship the Lord expects from us is simply not sustainable.  

Our stories—or, more accurately, the stories God wants us to inhabit and embody­—do not make sense and are not possible apart from a profound appreciation of the shape of the story of Jesus.  At the beginning of each day, then, think.  Read.  Ponder the truth of the Gospel anew.  All spiritual experience, affections, and obedience are suspect apart from this Gospel foundation.

In the evening devotion, we will look further at the last two tasks offered to us in the spirituality of Hebrews: drawing near to God through Jesus, and holding fast our confession of faith in Jesus.  


nick webNick is from the New Jersey / New York area. He became a Christian during his freshman year at High Point University through the influence of a student-led Cru ministry. He earned a BA in English Writing with a minor in Religion/Philosophy, and then moved to the Twin Cities to attend Bethel Seminary. While earning an MDiv, he also served as a youth pastor and as staff at Minnesota Teen Challenge.

He next spent two years as a pastoral apprentice at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis under John Piper in The Bethlehem Institute, and concurrently he taught a number of theology and Bible classes at the undergraduate and graduate level. Nick studied at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary prior to joining Christian Union in 2008.  He has written several curriculums for Christian Union's University Ministries, including Sex & Spirituality, Romans and Hebrews. He is currently working on a book on the story-shaped spirituality of the Psalms, and in his free time loves all things NYC, jogging in Central Park, and reading great novels over allegedly good coffee.
Best NY Escorts