Devotion for Friday after Ash Wednesday

Then the disciples of John came to Him [Jesus], asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. ~ Matthew 9:14-15

The bridegroom isn’t physically with us, although the Holy Spirit is always with us. But Jesus said that when He was no longer here in human form, “then they will fast.” Many Christian traditions include fasting (abstaining from food or something they enjoy) as part of Lent. Christians often give up meat on Fridays or desserts or some form of entertainment every day of Lent. Although we may feel terribly deprived, the sacrifices we make are small compared to what Jesus did for us on the cross. Yet the purpose of fasting is not to feel deprived or to focus on what we’re giving up, but to focus on God, to spend time in prayer, to draw nearer to our Lord. We can go through the motions of fasting and miss the spiritual blessing if we focus on the fasting instead of on the Savior.

Lord God, draw me to You through my Lenten fast. Focus my mind and heart on You and not on ritual. Speak to me through the Holy Spirit and let me hear and respond. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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