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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’” – Luke 14:15-20, ESV

Everywhere we turn in our world today we are confronted with every form of human depravity: sexual immorality, greed, selfish ambition, violence, malice.  Yet, often the greatest adversaries in our lives, those keeping us from the blessings of God’s kingdom, are not overt evils, but they are God’s greatest gifts.  In this parable, it is new land, new responsibilities, and a new marriage that keep the invited guests from the great banquet.  These three particular gifts from God are intimately tied to God’s original vocation for human beings from Genesis 1, yet in this parable they function as barriers and distractions from entering into the feast of God’s kingdom.

Our appetites for the good gifts of God can quickly outgrow and replace our appetite for God Himself.  It happens when we forget that true satisfaction is not available in the pleasures of this world, but only in God Himself.  Then, when God summons us away from those gifts to enjoy the fullness of the glory of the Kingdom, we are unwilling to abandon them.   Preservation of the simple pleasures, our work, our possessions, our families, become more important than gaining the kingdom of God, despite our deep awareness that none of these pleasures truly and lastingly satisfy us.

That is why we need fasting.  It helps us test our hearts’ allegiances and reminds us of our homesickness to be with God.  Fasting creates space for God to reveal to us those things that our hearts have come to inordinately desire more than His presence.  It brings us face to face with our own frailty so we do not become numb to our total dependence on God’s grace as we labor in our vocations.  So, in this season of fasting, what are the good gifts of God that have become adversaries to God’s kingdom work in you and through you?  What things have rendered you too busy to come to the banquet table of God?
 
Chris Matthews
Ministry Director at Yale
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