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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“You’re all that, and a bag of chips!” Echoing from the halls of my childhood memories, I can still hear the preacher, in dramatic fashion, proclaiming this statement to the congregation. Like much of the Christianity practiced in our contemporary culture, the intended purpose of the phrase was to combat low self-confidence by infusing a sense of self-worth and value. On the one hand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging the inherent worth and dignity that human beings possess as image-bearers of the one, true, and living God – such is an amazing truth! However, as Christians we understand that the central message of the Bible is predicated on another truth – a devastating one. The humanity that formerly held preeminent status in God’s “very good” creation has fallen. Sin and death now comprise the human condition. Simply put, we’re not “all that.” In commenting on the Fall’s effect and God’s judgment on human nature, Donald Macleod once stated, “The [human] race needs a redeemer, but cannot itself produce one.” In light of this dilemma, the person and work of Christ becomes not only all the more necessary but all the more glorious. This season of prayer and fasting is a demonstration that we understand our own fallenness, frailty, and finitude, and that Christ is our only hope. It is a demonstration of our desire to experience more of Him.

In his polemic against the salvific merits of circumcision, the apostle Paul contends that “we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…” (Philippians 3:3, emphasis added). In other words, Paul suggests that, at our deepest need – the need for a saving, justifying righteousness – Christians are called to demonstratively possess self-confidence issues. Think about that: At their core, Christians are called to not believe in themselves, but rather put their faith and trust in someone else’s efforts on their behalf.

Read Philippians 3:1-11.

- May this time of prayer and fasting be an expression of your valuing of Christ above all things, and your desire to boast not in your own abilities or accomplishments, but in His (v. 3-8).

- May this time of prayer and fasting be a reminder that you are not only physically but also spiritually invalid, and that your justification before God (the only justification that matters) comes by way of an alien righteousness. (v. 9).

- May this time of prayer and fasting be a time where you recalibrate the aim of all of your earthly efforts to this end: conformity to Christ in both His death and resurrection (v. 10-11).

Thank God that, though we’re not “all that,” we’ve been united by grace, through faith, to One who is. Imagine a generation of people who, though perhaps highly capable and qualified by the world’s standards, embrace this sense of low self-confidence and respond to the temptations of self-glorification and seeking the praise of men with one simple phrase: Christ is all. Imagine what He could accomplish through such a people. May your time of prayer and fasting be to this end. Amen.
 
Steven Harris
Ministry Fellow at Yale
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