Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘people do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
In Matthew chapter 4 we find Jesus just before his public ministry begins fasting and praying. Forty days is a long time to go without food, and Jesus was hungry. It was at this moment that the devil appeared to Jesus in order to tempt him to do something he knew was wrong.
When I was in bible college I went on a mission trip to New Orleans to share the gospel over Mardi Gras. Part of the preparation for our trip was that we had to fast from all TV and entertainment in addition to fasting and praying over at least one meal every day before the trip. I asked myself, “What is the point of this?”
One night at an informational meeting about the trip I was talking to one of my professors, and I asked him that very question. He said, “If that’s the question you are asking, you probably need to be fasting the most.” He knew that when we got to New Orleans we were going to be immersed in an environment full of sexual temptation, lust, contrasting spiritual beliefs and more. Just like Jesus, we were going to be tempted.
It would have been so easy to be distracted and fall into the temptations available to a young college student on that trip. Now I understand that it was fasting that empowered and equipped me to stay focused on the mission God had me on. It was the only way I was able to stay on track, seek God and share the love of Jesus with those around me in a challenging environment. Through fasting, I grew closer to God and was strengthened for the work he had for me.
I want to encourage you on day three of our fast – don’t give up! God is making you stronger. He is preparing you to overcome whatever mountain you may be facing. You will come out on the other side with a story of how God did something amazing in your life through fasting and prayer.
Read Matthew 4:1-10.