THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL (ECWA)
5007 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
LOUISVILLE, KY 40214
TEXT: Psalms 1: 1-6
Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi
The word “Meditation” on who the Lord Jesus Christ is, and what He has accomplished for the eternal salvation of human being is a remarkable way to discover an answer to Life’s Deepest Questions. Such as “Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I go when I die?” Also, the word “meditation” has a Latin root which means “to ponder” and “to weigh.” It can also be viewed has “reflection, contemplation, and study.” This also means to give a “careful thought” to a particular issue and a central part of a Christian devotion. Meditation is also known as a continuous reflection on the goodness of God, and on how His love for us should produce obedience in our daily life. Meditation, in a sense, is like a hen sitting on eggs to keep them warm until they hatch.
A. THE DISCIPLINE OF MEDITATION
The word “Meditation” could be explained in the Bible thus:
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:21-24 (NKJV).
The above Scriptural passage means, “Meditation” is not an intellectual exercise, but it is a Spirit-to-Spirit Interaction. That is, it requires us to place our mind under the control of the Spirit of God’s Spirit because the Scriptures are spiritually discerned. The Apostle Paul also explains it in this way:
10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy[a] Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”[b] But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:10-16 (NKJV).
The above indicated passage also requires that we must have the Holy Spirit in us by being born again in order not to grieve the Lord or quench His power. That is, our sins must be confessed and forsaken because if we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not hear us. The Epistle of Psalms also puts it does:
10 For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. 11 You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. 12 You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment. 13 I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows, 14 Which my lips have uttered And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer You burnt sacrifices of fat animals, With the sweet aroma of rams; I will offer bulls with goats. Selah 16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul. 17 I cried to Him with my mouth, And He was extolled with my tongue. 18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. 19 But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. 20 Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, Nor His mercy from me! (Psalms 66: 10-20 (NKJV).
B. THE DISCIPLINE OF PRAYER
What does the word “prayer” really indicate or mean and why should we pray? This may be explained is various ways. For example, it could be viewed thus:
Prayer is a commandment of God because He has commanded us to pray to Him and to Him alone. In order words, in times of distress, we must turn to God for help. In times of comfort, we must express our gratitude to God. And when all goes well with us, we must still pray to God every day so that He continues to show us His mercy and grant us our daily needs.
In our prayers to God we often address Him as “our Merciful Father” or as “our Father in Heaven. “ This is because the Lord regards us and we also ought to regard Him has our Almighty Father. A question may be asked thus;
“Why do we have to pray to our Father in Heaven for our daily needs? Does He not know our needs even better than we our-selves? Is God not by His very nature good and kind, and always willing to do us good”?
The answers to these questions are not very hard to find. In the Book of Daniel, the story is narrated thus:
3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6 Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. 7 O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
8 “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!
16 “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. 17 Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name” (Daniel 9:3-19 (NKJV).
The Prophet’s Prayer
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.[a] 2 O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy. 3 God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of His praise. 4 His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, And there His power was hidden. 5 Before Him went pestilence, And fever followed at His feet.
6 He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, The perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting. 7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; The curtains of the land of Midian trembled. 8 O Lord, were You displeased with the rivers, Was Your anger against the rivers, Was Your wrath against the sea, That You rode on Your horses, Your chariots of salvation? 9 Your bow was made quite ready; Oaths were sworn over Your arrows.[b] Selah You divided the earth with rivers.
10 The mountains saw You and trembled; The overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice, And lifted its hands on high. 11 The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; At the light of Your arrows they went, At the shining of Your glittering spear. 12 You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger. 13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, By laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah
14 You thrust through with his own arrows The head of his villages. They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me; Their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret. 15 You walked through the sea with Your horses, Through the heap of great waters.
16 When I heard, my body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice; Rott en ness entered my ones; And I trembled in myself, That I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops. A Hymn of Faith 17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls (Habakkuk 3: 1-17).
C. THE DISCIPLINE OF FASTING
What does fasting indicate? Fasting indicate getting our minds back on the reality that we are not self-sufficient. In order words, fasting helps us realize how fragile we are and how much we depend on things beyond ourselves. For example, the Bible gives examples of God's people who faithfully and honestly combine fasting with prayers in order to stir up their zeal and renew their dedication and commitment to God. The man King David said he humbled himself with fasting. The Scripture narrates it thus:
9 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation. 10 All my bones shall say, “Lord, who is like You, Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?” 11 Fierce witnesses rise up; They ask me things that I do not know. 12 They reward me evil for good, To the sorrow of my soul. 13 But as for me, when they were sick, My clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; And my prayer would return to my own heart. 14 I paced about as though he were my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother (Psalm 35:9-14(NKJV).
The Scripture also records that great men of faith such as the man Moses, the man Elijah, the man Daniel, the man Paul, and our Lord Jesus Christ fasted so that they might draw closer to God. This is fully explained in the following passages: Exodus 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8; Daniel 9:3; Daniel 10:2-3; 2 Corinthians 11:27; and Matthew 4:2.
Dearly beloved, be assured that Spiritual Fasting is not the way to earn God's favor by getting Him to do something for us, but rather, the purpose is to produce a transformation in us. That is, fasting is not to be a public display of spirituality, but it should be a way of obtaining wisdom, knowledge, and understanding through our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the reason why the Lord specifically instructed us in Matthew 6:16-18 to let our fasting be done privately and in humility, else we forfeit the benefits. Some Examples of Fasting in the Bible are indicated thus, I wish you read them carefully.
Moses fasted 40 days on behalf of Israel’s sin: Deuteronomy 9:9, 18, 25-29; 10:10.
David fasted and mourned for the death of Saul: 2 Samuel 1:12.
David fasted and mourned for the death of Abner: 2 Samuel 3:35.
David fasted and mourned for the death of his child: 2 Samuel 12:16.
Elijah fasted 40 days after fleeing from Jezebel: 1 Kings 19:7-18.
Ahab fasted and humbled himself before God: 1 Kings 21:27-29.
Darius fasted in concern for Daniel: Daniel 6:18-24.
Daniel fasted on behalf of Judah's sin while reading Jeremiah’s prophecy: Daniel 9:1-19.
Daniel fasted regarding a mysterious vision from God: Daniel 10:3-13.
Esther fasted on behalf of her people: Esther 4:13-16.
Ezra fasted and wept for the sins of the returning remnant: Ezra 10:6-17.
Nehemiah fasted and mourned over the broken walls of Jerusalem: Nehemiah 1:4-2:10.
The people of Ninevah fasted after hearing the message of Jonah: Jonah 3. New Testament
Anna fasted for the redemption of Jerusalem through the coming Messiah: Luke 2:37.
Jesus fasted 40 days before his temptation and the beginning of his ministry: Matthew 4:1-11.
The disciples of John the Baptist fasted: Matthew 9:14-15.
The elders in Antioch fasted before sending off Paul and Barnabas: Acts 13:1-5.
Cornelius fasted and sought God’s plan of salvation: Acts 10:30.
Paul fasted three days fasting after his Damascus Road encounter: Acts 9:9.
Paul fasted for 14 days while at the sea on a sinking ship: Acts 27:33-34. How often do you prayerfully, diligently, faithfully, and honestly wait on the Almighty God in prayer and fasting?