I can make food a fun obsession. I love food. I am a genuine foodie and I love to cook (as long as someone else washes the dishes!) So many times I used to be afraid to fast, because I didn’t want to be hungry, or I was afraid of what it would feel like to go without food. Would I be shaky? Would I feel faint? Would I be able to tell if my blood sugar was low? (I’m not diabetic…but still I worried about that.)
I think many of you can relate to this. But, here is the real question- why aren’t we this concerned about our spiritual weaknesses or our spiritual shakiness or our spiritual anemia or low blood sugar? We were created by God for our eternal spiritual relationship with him, yet we mostly ignore him to focus on our very temporal physical life. Yet, what we do with this life determines our eternity with God. How do we invest so much in what is so sure to disappear without a trace?
There are two instances in scripture (that comes to my head right now) where Jesus refuses food for the building up of the spiritual. Let’s look at those today.
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted a by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ b ”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ c
”Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ d ”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ e ” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Notice that the devil tried to tempt Jesus with his physical weakness. Usually he attacks in a time and place of weakness. But, the irony of this is that Jesus had allowed his body to become weak through fasting while he was being strengthened in the Spirit. He was spending time with the Father in fasting, prayer and in the Word. (As a good Jewish man, he would have had the entire body of scripture memorized from his youth.)
The devil is like, “I know you want the food!”
Jesus is like, “You’re right. I want the spiritual food.” Yet, Jesus speaks the Word of God to overcome the devil. What is important to understand is this- when we take in spiritual food, our spirits become strengthened by God’s storehouse of power. Fasting is not merely a ritual we perform to impress God. Jesus wasn’t someone who did things for an outward show. He participated in the fast- first of all, because the Spirit of God led him into the wilderness to do it. Secondly, he knew he was up against a battle with the Devil himself. This was not time to back down.
Think of fasting as strengthening the spirit. How many times do we wait until the Devil is on top of us to prepare for the battle? The Lord wants us to be strengthened ahead of time. He wants us to be prepared. When we live in a lifestyle of fasting and prayer, when we are in the word of God and doing spiritual warfare for our families, we will be protected, prepared and ready to stand in the day of evil.
The second passage where Jesus refuses physical food for spiritual food is when he was with the woman at the well in John chapter 4. I’m all about reading the whole scripture in context, so here we go!
Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. a )
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
The Disciples Rejoin Jesus
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
Many Samaritans Believe
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Jesus put his mission from God ahead of his need for food. Jesus cared about the woman at the well and, indeed, the whole town. He was so focused on their needs that he didn’t even want to eat until he had accomplished his spiritual mission to bring that town to faith. The disciples couldn’t understand his spiritual words and they were confused. They were actually looking for physical bread. How could he already have food?
Today, ask yourself before the Lord, how often do you “refuel” spiritually? How often do you take time to hear from God through his word and through prayer? Do you schedule your prayer time, check the box and then keep going or do you pray without ceasing throughout the day, as worries arise? Do you fill up with God’s word? What are you really hungry for?
Now, don’t let the devil turn those questions into a “beat yourself up” rally. These are for reflection before God, so you can examine yourself before him with his Spirit. This is not for condemnation, but for confirmation that you need more of God and that the hunger for God comes from our God-designed destiny that we are created for relationship with him.
Even your spiritual dryness is a sign that you need a rainfall. If you feel far away- that means there is a closeness you desire. Your lack signifies your need. You were created for spiritual food. Let’s pray!
Prayer Time- (If you pray over each of these points for 2 minutes, you will spend 30 minutes in prayer. If you pray over each of these points for 3 minutes, you will spend 45 minutes in prayer. See if you can do it!)
- Lift up the name of the Father. Praise him for his attributes. “Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus, I pray and worship you today. I glorify your name. Your name is holy. Your name is mighty. Your name is awesome. You are my creator, my deliverer, my strong tower. I am your child. You are my redeemer. Your love is from everlasting to everlasting. No one is like you. You created and organized the universe from the atomic level. You know how many atoms are in my body and how many stars are in the galaxy. You call them all by name. You are mighty, Oh God. Your ways are higher than my ways.
- Your kingdom come- This is time to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Remember you can pray for his kingdom to come in every sphere you are in- in every person you love (don’t leave anyone out!) You can pray for his kingdom to come and his will to be done in your schools, in your church, in your pastor’s life, in your spouse’s life, in your children and grandchildren. “Oh Lord, build your kingdom in my life. Let me walk in your will, oh Lord. Let me walk in your steps. Direct my steps. May my life bring glory to your name- the name of Jesus. Build your kingdom in my family, and may they grow in your strength and in the admonition of the Lord. Your kingdom come and your will be done in my church in Jesus name. Lord, let your kingdom come in my community. Let your will be done in the government, oh Lord. Bring your will to pass, Lord, in Jesus’ name.” (You can add in other topics and places for God’s kingdom to come.)
- Give us daily provision “Lord, give us this day our daily bread. Teach us to trust you for everything we have and everything we need. Strengthen me so that I can walk in faith for provision. I give you my anxiety and my terror over the times we are in. Lord, I pray for supernatural provision emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically in this time. I draw my resources and my hope from you. I lift mine eyes until the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Forgive me for not trusting you for my needs. Forgive me for forgetting to thank you for all your provisions. I have taken you for granted, Lord. Forgive me and heal me. I want you to create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” (Give the Lord any anxieties you have about provision at this time.)
- Forgive me for my debts- Lord, I need you to forgive me. I thank you that you desire to forgive me and that you sent Jesus to take my sin. Thank you that Jesus was my sin sacrifice. I can never repay him, expect with a life of love and devotion, propelled by faith. Lord God, please search my heart. Show me what isn’t pleasing to you. Reveal to me things that I need to repent from. I submit my life to you. Transform me. (Write down and repent from things the Lord brings to your heart to repent from.)
- I forgive! Lord, I release those who have sinned against me. You have given me such grace, how can I not give what you have given to others? (Spend time giving people to the Lord who have irritated, hurt, or offended you. – Don’t forget the politicians and celebrities. 😉 There may be someone from your past that injured or rejected you. There may be a family member who you are in constant conflict with. Forgive as Jesus has forgiven you. You may pray this way, “Lord, so and so hurt me by _________, I know you have forgiven me and command me to forgive with the same grace you give me. I forgive this person in Jesus’ name, the same way you forgive me. I release them from my judgement into your hands. Work in their life. Heal their wounds. Bring them into freedom through Jesus, the same way you have helped me. Deliver me- I renounce my anger and bitterness in the name of Jesus.”
- Fill me! Lord, I want to be filled with your Holy Spirit! I want my whole life to bring glory to your name. I ask that you give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that I can know you deeply and personally. Break through my walls with your love, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart to the hope of my calling- the calling of a child of God. May I know this inheritance that I have in the saints. Lord, as the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12, I eagerly desire the greater gifts. I eagerly desire for you to fill me with your gifts so that I can benefit the body of Christ and help build your kingdom. I ask that you fill me in ways I didn’t know were possible, so that my life is filled with fruit overflowing to the glory of God. Fill me with your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith and self-control.
- Pray to live a life worthy of your calling- “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.”
- Pray for God to expose corruption in the government- Pray for each level of government. We aren’t to pray against politicians and leaders. We are to pray for our leaders. Pray that the Lord raises up godly men and women into positions of leadership in government.
- Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure.” Pray that God will open the eyes of the Jewish people and remove the veil of Moses so that they can see the Messiah.
- Pray for racial reconciliation in our nation- Pray that God first convicts the church of prejudices and that the church will lead the way in reconciliation and unity. Pray for spiritual understanding- eyes to see and ears to hear and empathy to understand the hurts of the black community. Pray for healing in the black community that hearts will be renewed by the hope of the Lord. Pray for leaders in the black community, that they will be led by the inspiration of the Spirit of God. Pray that the Lord will expose the people and organizations who are using the death of George Floyd to bring anarchy and destruction, instead of healing. Pray for those who are speaking God’s truth to be given a platform to spread the truth. Pray that God saves those who are lost who are raging in our streets and pray that the believers in Jesus in the middle of the violence will be a light for Christ and will be strengthened in their mission from God to bring reconciliation and unity. Pray that God brings healing to the wounds of our nation.
- Pray for our police officers who are on the line of fire, standing in a difficult place. Pray for godly men and women to be raised up in our police departments. Pray for God to expose those individuals who are dangerous and or racist and should be removed from their positions, before any more innocent people are hurt. Pray for the protection of our dedicated officers. Give them strength to do an increasingly dangerous and difficult job. Pray for wisdom for the leaders of the first responders in our communities.
- Pray for the health community and for the Lord to protect those on the front lines. Pray for the Lord to have mercy and to give wisdom to the doctors and nurses who are working against the clock to save lives. Pray for those suffering from covid. Pray for healing in the name of Jesus. Pray for the Lord to give believers grace and mercy to be a light for Christ in the hospitals and doctors’ offices around the nation.
- Pray for our education systems– Give the school boards, superintendents, principals, faculty and staff of our schools wisdom from the Lord to do their jobs in this pandemic. Pray that the Lord gives peace and emotional protection. Pray for high risk teachers who are risking their lives to teach, because they can’t live without the money. Pray for parents who are making decisions. There are single parents and families who can’t be home, because they need to work. Many families are under a lot of pressure. Pray for this situation!
- Pray for the Lord to have mercy on our nation. Speak to hearts. Deliver us from evil. “Lord, we know our nation has sinned against you in many ways. Please deliver us from ourselves. We are at your mercy. We have indulged sin, avarice and greed. We have put convenience and careers ahead of our children. We have aborted our babies- too many than we can even count. 61,000,000. They are crying out to you. Lord, please overturn the evil laws of this land. Please turn the hearts of the people. Please deal mercifully with us. There are many in this land who love you and serve you and are grieved over the sin around us. We are grieved over the perversions that are celebrated in the streets. We are grieved. Please Lord, remember you people who love you. Please protect your people. Teach us to follow you in this dark time. We ask that you remember us when you deal with this nation and allow the judgements to come for the sin. Please fill us with your Spirit and give us the power to shine brightly in the darkness. Prepare our hearts. Prepare our homes. May we be prepared for you, that we can walk in faith in these times you have called us to live in.
- Feed me with your Word, Lord. Feed me. I ask that you teach me to be filled up to overflowing with your Spirit. I ask that you will give me a hunger and thirst for righteousness. I want to be filled with you. I want to do your will. Strengthen me in my inner being today.
Spiritual Warfare Template-
In Jesus’ name, I praise you because you are glorious. I praise you for Jesus Christ your Son, our Sovereign Lord.
I ask that you fill me with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that I may know you and understand this battle that I am living in. Open the eyes of my heart so that I may see you and the hope that I have in you, in Jesus’ name. I need to know that I have hope in the battle, Lord. Right now I acknowledge that my battle is not against flesh and blood. I am not battling people in this world. I am not battling against my spouse or children. I am not battling against non-believers or family members. I am battling against spiritual rulers and authorities in my life. I am battling against things seen and unseen that raise themselves up against the knowledge of Christ Jesus.
I stand against lies and darkness that come against me in Jesus’ name. No weapon formed against me shall prosper, in Jesus’ name. I acknowledge the power of Jesus and I praise you that I am seated with him in heavenly realms above all rule and power and authority.
I know that in Christ and his resurrection power I am victorious. So, I stand in the armor of Jesus right now. I put on the helmet of salvation. I praise you for my salvation, in Jesus’ name. I thank you for your protection and that you protect my head, my life, my authority through Christ. I rejoice that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
I stand firm in the truth of Christ. I buckle your belt of truth about my waist. I pray that your truth will secure my life. Defend me against the lies of Satan, in Jesus’ name. I know that I am vulnerable apart from you, Lord. I ask in Jesus’ name that you will reveal to me any lies that I am believing and allow me to walk in your truth.
Today, I thank you for the righteousness that is imputed to me in Christ Jesus. I ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in that righteousness. I pray that the righteousness of Christ and the power of God to live a life of holiness will protect my heart. I put on that breastplate of righteousness. Teach me to submit to and obey your truth in the grace that God provides me, oh Lord, in Jesus’ power and holy name.
I also pray, in Jesus’ name, that you will ready my feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Everywhere I go, oh Lord, may I be ready to bring your message of good news. Do not let me lose my footing in this area. May my feet truly be the beautiful feet that bring good news to those who are lost and need to find their way. Use me, oh Lord, to bring your salvation to the lives of those who are not in your family. Bring people into my life, in special moments, who need you. Ordain for me opportunities to minister the gospel of Jesus to them.
Father, fill me with faith, in Jesus’ name. I pray that your Spirit will ignite faith in me that I can fight against the devil and be protected from his diversions and lies. I take up your shield of faith, Father. Hide me in the shadow of your wing, oh Lord. Build up my inner spirit in faith. Minister faith to me and help my unbelief, in Jesus’ name!
Also, I take up your Holy Word, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I ask that daily I will be filled with your Word. I ask that the truth of your Word will work like a mighty weapon in my hands. Teach me to fight the enemy with your Word, oh Lord. Develop in me the spiritual gifts and abilities you want me to use in this battle, in Jesus’ name!
Fill me with your Spirit’s power right now. None of this is possible in my flesh. I trust in your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen