October 20

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, ‘How is that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. Matthew 9:14-15, NIV

Do you miss Him? Jesus here gives a principle in the life of prayer and fasting, but it is an aside, and is phrased in such a way that it is possible to miss its vital importance. He explains that the realm of earnestly seeking God is all to do with the sense of missing His Presence, like friends mourn the absence of a loved one. (Of course, if the friends of the bridegroom mourn His absence, then how much more will His bride mourn it?) The disciples had such a normal relationship with Jesus, that the idea of earnestly fasting and praying would have been irrelevant – He was with them each day. When Jesus taught about prayer, He was not concerned with ideas of building up credit with God, or gaining influence through earnest persuasion. His idea of prayer is to develop a normal, healthy relationship with God, as friends. Put in this context, Jesus’ words on fasting show that true spiritual authority belongs to those who are close friends with Him. Jesus did not withdraw to pray and fast when He was faced with demon-possessed people, since He was in the place of friendship with His Father. Are we in that place of friendship? If not, do we miss that friendship? Strength of will and character can make people do amazing things, including going on long fasts and praying for many hours. But none of this has any influence on God. It is love that misses Him that carries us into the place of intimate friendship with God. It crosses every obstacle, and will make any sacrifice to reach that goal.