We all have struggles in our lives that at times can be overwhelming. In our humanity, we tend to feed into the anxiety, making the situation worse. We get frustrated, complain, and get stuck in the muck of the pity party which only leads to annoying everyone around us. Other than God, no one knows our struggles better than the devil, even though he and his minions can’t hear our thoughts. How does he know? We tell him every time we complain, share our fears out loud, and through our body language. We do this partly because it is a part of our fallen nature, and because it is what we have become accustomed to. The good news is that we can choose this very day to stop the pattern. We don’t have to look very far to discover a better way, but just like everything else, it will require an effort and practice.
In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus shows us how to handle temptation when we are weak. The scriptures tell us that he prepared himself for the tempting by fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. When the tempter came to tempt Jesus, he was weak in the body but strong in the Spirit. This indicates to me that fasting is of primary importance. It is a spiritual practice that we Christians have all but abandoned. Fasting for 40 days and 40 nights might seem a bit extreme, but it begs the question of, “How bad do we want our situation to change? Are we willing to endure a little self-sacrifice, so that we will become strong enough to win?”
I often say that we are a bunch of wimps when it comes to prayer and sacrifice. When trouble came across the Israelites lives, they would put on sackcloth, put ashes on their heads and prostrate themselves before the Lord in prayer and fasting until the trouble passed, or the Lord gave them a clear directive (2 Sam 21:10, 1 Kings 21:27, 1 Chronicles 21:16, Nehemiah 9:1, Judith 4:11, Judith 9:1, Esther 4:3, 1 Maccabees 3:47). Once again, how bad do we want freedom? We can all fast from something. It doesn’t always have to be food. It can be anything that would require a sacrifice such as T.V., social media, gossip, a dessert that we’re especially fond of, etc. I encourage us not to fast from things that will benefit the health of our body, soul and spirit. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit what to fast, and make this a regular practice in our lives.
When the tempter came, Jesus was ready. He had been fasting for 40 days and although the scripture doesn’t mention prayer, I’m sure that he praised his Father with every breath as he walked, danced in the joy of his presence, and worshiped in adoration. He prayed for his mission to be accomplished and for us to receive salvation. This models the perfect prayer time for us – praise, worship, adoration, and prayers of petition for our mission and for our loved ones needs.
As the devil taunted him with temptations that addressed his physical hunger, challenged his identity, and poked at the human desire for power, Jesus stood his ground and simply spoke the truth of scripture right back to him. This reveals the absolute need to be grounded in the Word of God. If we don’t know what it says, we will not be able to disarm the devil with it when he comes to manipulate and lie to us. Get into the Word, Christian! Read it, study it, pray it, and use it as your weapon against the accuser. When you do, he will flee and the holy angels will come and minister to you (I love that!).
Get to practicing child of God. Practice makes us strong and less likely to fall prey to the enemy’s tactics. Let's not get stuck in the muck of his trap.
The Temptation of Jesus
Praising, worshiping, and adoring,