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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

ThinkstockPhotos-183173598“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?" And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” - Acts 8:35-38 (ESV)

 The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is astounding for a few reasons. For one thing, here we see the Gospel reaching someone from a different nation, someone who would have been largely an outcast in Philip’s society. 
Also, as a kid, I remember thinking about the verses that follow with amazement: “And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing” (verse 39).

How exactly did the Spirit carry Philip away? Was this teleportation, a strong wind, or did Philip simply leave? I used to imagine that as they came out of the water and the eunuch looked upon Philip he simply disappeared, and that, for a split second, there was a Philip-shaped shell of water left behind that fell to the ground.

Yet, what I am now challenged by is not Philip’s departure but rather a third astounding aspect of these verses, the words of the eunuch concerning baptism: “What prevents me from being baptized?” The eunuch’s question comes from an attitude toward baptism that should characterize our lives in many things of faith, including fasting and prayer. His attitude was not one of “Do I have to be baptized?” but one of “Do I get to?!”

During long times of fasting it is often easy to allow the discipline become a chore. Yet, the truth behind all of the disciplines of the faith is that they are an enormous gift. We have a God who hears His people and promises that as we draw near to Him, He draws near to us (James 4:8).

Fasting is not something we have to do; it is something we get to do! Through the work of our self-giving God on the cross we have been enabled to approach the throne of grace in confidence (Hebrews 4:16). It is by the grace of Christ that we have been given this gift. So today, let us cultivate thankfulness as we approach the Creator of the universe and present our requests. Today, we actually get to do this! 

Chase Carlisle
Ministry Fellow at Dartmouth
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