Luke 5:33-35 They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
The religious professionals attacked on the basis of fasting and prayer, but Jesus responded only to the fasting charge. I take that to mean that the disciples were indeed learning to pray, just as they asked Jesus to teach them. (Luke 11:1) We sometimes forget that the disciples were indeed learning and maturing during their time with Jesus. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have had ears to hear or hearts to understand what Jesus said in the upper room before His crucifixion, much less have been able to absorb the fact of His resurrection. They did have a lot of blank spots, and that’s why Jesus said the Holy Spirit would bring to their minds all that He had said to them. (John 14:26) If the 12 apostles needed to learn and grow, so do we, and if they could learn and grow, so can we. Prayer is one of the areas in which we have the most room for growth, and that includes listening obediently to the Lord’s replies. As Jesus said, now that He’s not with us physically, that includes fasting, to teach us not to let our flesh control our spirits. We need to greet each day with anticipation of both what the Lord is going to teach us and how He is going to use us. That is the path of true satisfaction and joy for any believer.
This is of course exactly where I am. Some of the lessons aren’t enjoyable at the time, but if we are willing to learn, the result is always good. (Hebrews 12:11) This trip has been an extended practicum, and I pray that I will genuinely absorb and apply all that the Lord has been teaching me, not just for the benefit of those I serve, but also so that I won’t have to go through the same lessons again! In a few hours we will be back in Japan, and once we get as far as Fukuoka I’ll be back in “ministry mode.” That needs to be different than what it was, based on what the Lord has been teaching me, so that the Body of Christ may be built up for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me indeed hear and apply all that You say to me, through the Bible, through circumstances, and through other people. May I never be stagnant but always growing, just as it says in Psalm 1, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!