Isn’t fasting supposed to be a secret? Many fasts in the Bible were corporate fasts called by authority figures for a whole group to participate in together. Reflect on the heart of what Jesus is saying in this passage. What has been the motive behind any conversations you’ve had about fasting? Is it to encourage others or receive support? Is there some secret wish to be seen as holy or spiritual? Only two know the answer to those questions — just you and God. Pray today asking God to uncover your motives for fasting and ask for ways you can seek the encouragement you need without clouding your heart with pride.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name.10 Your kingdom come,your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven.11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.