What did you enjoy most about the holidays?
Lord, let me seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands!
Luke 5:15–16 NLT, emphasis added: “But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”
We all love to get away on vacation. Being alone with our spouse can be so refreshing. It is no different in our relationship with the Lord. Separating ourselves and being alone with Him is rewarding and healthy. Jesus Himself stole away to find privacy with God with no competing voices.
The word holy actually means “to separate.” Unfortunately, many times the church resembles the world more than it does the Savior it claims to follow. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for maintaining an appearance of separation in the external, but not operating in love. True separation from the world takes place on the inside.
Have you ever fasted from food? Would you be open to attempt a separation to God that includes fasting? Discuss with the group.
There are times and seasons when God calls us to separate more. For example, many of the festivals and feasts of Israel called for separation. Both Moses and Jesus were called to 40 days of separation.
Does the beginning of the year motivate you to start over in certain areas of your life? Share with the group.
We separate from something to go to something. We do not do it to feel religious or superior, or to be strange. Don’t fast like a Pharisee, but rather, allow fasting to help you achieve separation.
When you separate from something, you also need to draw closer to God. What would a closer time with the Lord look like for you? Share with the group.
Two of the main reasons we separate are for (1) clarity, to get direction for big decisions and to know our purpose; and for (2) closeness, to enjoy intimate times with the Lord.
Matthew 17:16–17 (NASB) says: “‘I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.’ And Jesus answered and said, ‘You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.’”
In this passage “unbelieving” means unconnected to God, and “perverted” means too connected to the world. Jesus said that the solution to this problem was prayer and fasting.
Have you ever felt helpless, like the father of the demon-possessed boy felt? Share with the group.
We all need to have times of being alone with God. Allow Him to separate you so He can use you.
Fasting without pursuit is no more than a miserable diet. Focus more on the pursuit than on the fast. Get away with God and allow the Holy Spirit full access to your heart. Get off social media. Turn off the news.
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