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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

Fasting is part of the heartbeat of a seeking-God lifestyle. As we are all well aware, we rest on the promise that God will draw near to us as we draw near to Him (James 4:8). Thus, as we seek God through humility and fasting, we eagerly expect that the Lord will speak to us and that we will commune with Him in sweet and powerful ways. Seeking the Lord for His power and presence is wonderful. But, we talk about another promise less often, even though it is embedded in the same text. It's not as if we deny this promise, but it is not as much a part of our everyday vocabulary. This promise has become dearer to me as I continue to minister here with Christian Union. James encourages his audience, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). What a good promise from a gracious God.

Thus, as we fast, may we seek the Lord for fruitfulness in our individual ministries, our families, and the nation at large. May we seek direction for how the Lord is directing us to fulfill our calling on each of our livelihoods. May we seek blessing for ourselves, our friends, our families, our coworkers, and those whom we serve. But may we also ask the Spirit of truth to reveal to us the devil's schemes against us. May we ask the Spirit to reveal to us where we have provided a foothold for the enemy in our lives. And may we be humble, bold, and courageous enough to resist the devil's work that he might flee from us as we repent, turn our back on the enemy, and turn our face toward Christ.

We ought to be encouraged further since this promise is grounded in a bevy of other promises that echo throughout the New Testament. Paul encourages the church in Ephesus, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:10-12). Sometimes it seems that it would be easier to fight against flesh and blood. We could see our enemy and know when we've won. Fighting against cosmic powers is a bit tricky and often difficult to discern who is winning the battle. But, if we put on the full armor of God as we fast, we will be able to stand against the schemes of the devil because we are strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. That is good news, and far better than fighting against flesh and blood.

Peter also encourages his readers, perhaps in a slightly different context, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." There may be no more frightening news than the devil is prowling around looking to devour us. Yet, as we fast, there may be no better news than Jesus Christ, the one who has dominion forever, will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us as we resist the devil. So, I encourage you: Be sober-minded and watchful as you fast.

Mark Catlin
Ministry Fellow at Princeton