What Does It Mean To Surrender?

Jen CudmoreFaith, Prayer & FastingLeave a Comment

Surrender. What emotions does this word invoke in your heart? For some, it’s positive, stirring memories of a sweet moment with God. For others, it’s negative, bringing light to areas defiantly kept away from Him. Years ago, I recall being confused about what it means to be surrendered to God. Does it just mean that I’ve agreed to believe in Him and serve Him? Does that mean I go where He tells me to go? Does it mean I trust Him – a lot? Does it mean I follow all His Thou-shalt-not rules? According to Merriam-Webster, surrender is defined this way: 1a :  to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand b :  to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another 2a :  to give (oneself) up into the power of another to give (oneself) over to something (as an influence) Recently during our 21-Day-Fast, God brought this word to my mind. Curious, I wondered what He was prompting me to do. If you had asked me a month ago, I would have quickly agreed that Yes, I’m fully surrendered to God. But as I dug deep into my … Read More

Our Reward for Fasting

Jen CudmorePrayer & FastingLeave a Comment

“… and your Father who sees… will reward you.” Matt 6:18 When fasting, we’re not supposed to seek the praise of men, as the passage in Matthew explains, nor as an attempt to earn God’s blessing. Yet when we fast with pure motives, where we focus on Him and our desperation for more of Him in our lives, that’s when God sends a blessing. In Scripture, those who fasted always saw a reward. For Daniel, it was favor and position. For Esther, it was deliverance for her people. For Jehosephat, it was protection from destruction. For Nehamiah, it was the rebuilding of his hometown. For Ezra, it was guidance and protection for his people. For Anna, it was the privilege to meet baby Jesus. For Paul, it was direction in spreading the gospel. So what blessing awaits us when we fast? God does above and beyond all that we could ever ask or imagine, and His miracles come in all shapes and sizes. But this passage in Isaiah 58 will give us an idea of what He promises to those who fast properly. God says: 6“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to … Read More

5 Tasks While You’re Fasting

Jen CudmorePrayer & FastingLeave a Comment

Is there something specific we must do during a fast, any action or behavior that’s required? We discussed in previous posts that fasting is more than merely abstaining from certain foods or fluids. It’s about connecting with God and proclaiming our desperation for His intervention in our lives. So how exactly do we do that? By following the example of the disciples in Acts 13: “1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers…. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” While they were worshiping – that’s when God responded. The word ‘worship’, as defined in a couple different online dictionaries, means “to show reverence and adoration; to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion“. How do we show God reverence and adoration? How do we regard Him with great respect, honor and devotion? 1) We praise Him. Not only does God deserve our gratitude for all the good He’s done in our lives, He … Read More

Fasting and the Motives of the Heart

Jen CudmorePrayer & FastingLeave a Comment

Before we start a fast, we must check our motives. There are a couple places in scripture where God is displeased with fasting, and it was all because of selfish heart motivation. Wrong Motive #1 – Desiring attention from people. This was the problem Jesus addressed when he said we should fast in secret (Matt 6:16-18). Because the Pharisees were making a public display of their spirituality, their fasting was all about getting admiration from others. It was no longer a means of connecting with God on a deeper level, but a matter of pride. They weren’t after God’s glory, they were after applause. This is why Jesus cautions us to fast in secret. While it’s important to keep our fasting private rather than putting on a show to get people to think highly of us, we don’t have to hide. Almost every fast mentioned in the Bible was a group of people getting together to seek God – no one hid what they were doing. That scripture was merely Jesus cautioning believers to be careful about their motives. As John Piper says, “Being seen fasting is not the same things as fasting to be seen.” Wrong Motive # 2 … Read More

Fasting: What’s the End Goal?

Jen CudmorePrayer & Fasting1 Comment

What is the purpose behind our decision to fast – what’s our ultimate goal? According to Isaiah 58, God’s intention for fasting is to loose bonds of wickedness, let the oppressed go free and break every yoke – He wants to do that for us. I think we can all agree we need more spiritual freedom in our lives, our families, our churches, and our cities! When the people in the Bible fasted, they brought specific requests before the Lord. Many of their goals may be the same for us today. Healing for a loved one – In 2 Samuel, David fasted when his child was sick, asking God to spare his life. Today, many of us battle physical conditions, and sometimes God may deliver us from these problems. And not just about ‘big’ health issues, like surgery, but pesky things we may have decided to accept for the rest of our lives. Instructions/Guidance – In Judges 20, the tribes fasted to ask God for direction on how to deal with the rebellious tribe of Benjamin. Today, everyone faces hard decisions and we need God to show us the right path. We need His help in making wise choices in … Read More

7 Reasons Why People In The Bible Fasted

Jen CudmorePrayer & Fasting1 Comment

What was the purpose behind Biblical fasting? Was it just an old-fashioned law that people had to follow, or was there more to it than that? A few years back, I developed a curiosity about fasting, so I spent a few weeks studying what the Bible had to say. I learned there are several reasons for fasting, many of which go hand in hand.  Why people in the Bible fasted: 1) To better hear God’s voice.When they wanted an answer, they would inquire of God and seek His instruction. It was a way to help them limit distractions and focus on His voice.Scripture References: When the tribe of Benjamin sinned and rebelled, the other tribes sought God for direction on how to respond (Judges 20). Daniel fasted often to seek God’s direction, and at one point an angel came to deliver a message (Daniel 10). After Jesus died, the Disciples sought God for direction on how to spread the gospel (Acts 13). 2) To mourn and lament mistakes.When they sinned, fasting was a way to repent of habitual sin and seek the restoration of God’s favor in their lives.Scripture References: Many times in Scripture, the Israelites turned away from God. … Read More

Curious About Biblical Fasting?

Jen CudmorePrayer & Fasting4 Comments

Last week I asked what you would be willing to sacrifice because you love Jesus. All too often, we prefer to fulfill our fleshly desires more than we desire God himself. I issued a challenge to consider if there was something God might want you to give up. These behaviors could be anything from addictions (sugar, alcohol, pornography, etc.) to something as simple as habitual complaining, procrastination, or impulse shopping. Maybe it’s not even a habit. Maybe sometimes we skip a church service, let loose a cuss word or watch a provocative program on TV. We justify these momentary pleasures and tell ourselves it’s ‘not that bad’.  The problem comes when all these little things we label ‘not that bad’ add up and pull us away from our first love. God has shown me over the past few years that what feels good in the moment, such as lashing out when angry or overeating when stressed, actually hinders my future and my faith. While we will always struggle with our sinful nature, we don’t have to allow it to control us. What we stop feeding will eventually starve and die. One way to weaken the grip of our flesh is … Read More

To Sacrifice For Love

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

What have you sacrificed for those you love? For moms, there is much we give up, at least for a while. Sleeping through the night. Watching adult TV. Freedom to be spontaneous. Food on our own plates. Privacy in the bathroom. This sacrifice has many forms. Much of our time and attention goes to driving our children to sports or events. We change diapers for two or three years (per child!). We clean up messes of all kinds. We stay up late for sleepovers. We make sure the cheesy macaroni and chicken nuggets are not touching on plates so no one has a meltdown. What about for our romantic relationships? Some wives get up early and pack a lunch for their man, or start his car so it’s warm when he leaves.We watch movies we aren’t really interested in because that’s what our spouse wants to watch. We run errands for each other. We go out of our way to find the perfect gift. We pick up dirty socks from the corners of the couch, or dirty underwear off the bathroom floor.  All because we love them. When your husband or children ask you to do something, like stay up … Read More