Day 1: Your Inner World
Monday, February 7, 2022
Today we begin our time of prayer and fasting as a church. Over the next 21 days, we will be examining both the life and the lifestyle of Jesus, learning more about how he prayed and what he teaches us on prayer. We will discover the rhythms and habits he incorporated into his life as he lived sinlessly and remained in communion with his Heavenly Father. As we seek to walk in the way of Jesus, he will be not only our savior and teacher, but also our example of how to live a free life.
Central to our pursuit of him over the next 21 days is this truth from Pastor John Mark Comer’s book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry:
If we want to experience the life of Jesus, we have to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus.
We seek to follow the example of Jesus in all things, including prayer and fasting. That requires adopting the habits that Jesus practiced. Over the next 21 days, we will explore several spiritual disciplines Jesus modeled. These include the practices of silence, solitude, stillness, simplicity, slowing down, and sabbath. In our fast-paced 21st century world, these ancient practices can help us gain a deeper intimacy with God, as well as lead us to a different pace that allows us to experience the full life that Jesus offers.
During our first week of prayer and fasting, our main focus is experiencing heart change before God. There is much God desires to transform in our lives during periods of focused prayer. Still, while we will pray for spiritual breakthroughs for ourselves and others, our primary aim this week is to seek Jesus’ transformation in our inner world.
Our inner world is the part of ourselves that no one else sees. It is the “green pastures and still waters” where God restores our soul (Psalm 23:2-3). It is the core of our spiritual life, and it is only properly cultivated by time alone with God in prayer. This inner world is what Scripture refers to as the heart. The Hebrew word for heart, “Lev,” means inner self. It is the private world of our thoughts, will, emotions, longings, and desires. In the secret place of our heart, it is there where our life with God is nurtured.
Our journey of prayer and fasting begins there, looking inward and inviting God to meet with us.
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”
We cannot read what the New Testament says about prayer and conclude anything but its absolute necessity. Jesus taught it and modeled it personally. As we will see, he often left the crowds to spend time alone with his Heavenly Father. It was his time in private that enabled Jesus to do all he did publicly.
Following Jesus requires developing our prayer life. In many ways, our prayer life is our relationship with Jesus. The two cannot be separated. We cannot claim to have a relationship with him if we do not pray. It is how we foster and grow in our walk with him, which should be the goal of all his followers. Our steps to follow Jesus flow from our times of private prayer with him. That is how our inner world is formed, and we are transformed to be more like him.
In Matthew 6:5, Jesus rebukes those who love to pray in public in ways that draw attention to themselves. His point isn’t that public prayer is always wrong. There can be great power that comes when believers unite in public prayer. But that’s a different type of prayer than that which only happens in private with God. In both practices Jesus condemns in this passage (verses 6:5 and 6:7), the authenticity of the heart is missing. Allowing our hearts to be transformed is the reason Jesus encourages us to spend time in secret with our Heavenly Father. That is what we are seeking during our time of prayer and fasting.
For this kind of intimate prayer, Jesus tells us to get away by ourselves and shut the door behind us. It doesn’t matter whether there’s an actual door you can close. The point is to spiritually separate yourself to get alone with God and converse with Him. Jesus modeled this personally. Since Jesus taught and modeled this behavior, we would be wise to follow his example!
Find a quiet place where you can spend some time alone with God. Focus more on being with God than asking Him for anything. As you do, spend some time reflecting on your inner world. Ask God how He wants to transform you and bring you into a closer relationship with Him over the next 21 days.
Prayer: “Jesus, I invite you into my inner world. My desire is to be like you, to live the way you lived. I give you permission to reshape my heart to become more like yours. Show me how you desire to transform me from the inside out. Before I ask you for anything, I want to seek you and enjoy your presence first. My heart and my life belong to you. I give these next 21 days and beyond to you. Amen.”
By Dave Mann
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