We are so glad you are joining us for these daily prayer devotionals as together we seek the heart of our God. Over the coming weeks, we will focus on some of the most meaningful words of our savior Jesus Christ from the book of Mark, as we follow his journey with his disciples on the path toward the cross. Our journey of prayer and fasting will culminate on Easter Sunday as we celebrate His resurrection, declaring victory over sin, death and shame.

Each devotion will take less than ten minutes of your time.

  1. We will Engage the Word – looking at some of Jesus’ words in their biblical context.
  2. We will Connect the Heart – considering a truth that is applicable to our lives.
  3. We will Reflect on the Truth, asking a number of questions each day that invite us to look and listen with intent.
  4. And we will Depend on the Spirit – We will pray, for it is in praying that we learn to pray. And it is in praying that the Spirit changes our hearts.

We want to encourage you to grab a journal or a notebook – something to write on as you walk through each prayer guide. Yes, it will add a few minutes to the time it takes to do the devotion, and it will also deepen your experience and shape your walk with God for years to come. This journal or notebook will be a keepsake to remind you of God’s faithfulness during this challenging season for all of us.

Engage the Word

 Mark 7:5-8

        5     And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”

        6     And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“ ‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me;

        7     in vain do they worship me,

teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

        8     You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

Connect the Heart

The pharisees were considered the most religiously devout men in the land…and they were also the group most maligned by Jesus. In Matthew 23:3, Jesus tells the people to follow the pharisees’ teaching, yet on numerous occasions He calls them hypocrites – or worse. These people wanted to be godly, but they thought the most important thing was to follow God by following external rules. For instance, today’s passage shows that ceremonial hand-washing was considered by them to be a very important act of obedience to God. Although this kind of hand-washing was actually just one of many external and legalistic rules they were following. Jesus says obedience & devotion to God is a heart (internal) issue, and while acting a certain way may please some people around you, if your heart is not in the right place — God is not impressed.  

Reflect on the Truth

  1. How might your heart – your words, your actions, your motivations – be seeking a false sense of godliness? 

2. Are there rules from your religious upbringing or church experiences (“traditions of men”) that need be reconsidered in light of Jesus’ emphasis on the heart? 

3.Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the deeper longings, desires or motives in your heart that these thoughts are pointing to. (for example: you may write down, “I want to be close to you, Lord – and sometimes certain things I was taught seem to only get in the way. I need your help.”) The Lord can help us discern the path forward – through His word, His Spirit, His people.

4. Jesus declared their worship to be in vain because their hearts were far from God. Do you ever rely on religious acts as a way to mask the hurts or shame of your heart – or worse, to gain God’s favor or approval?   

Depend on the Spirit

Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind those areas of your life of faith (or church life) that might be a crutch to allow you to go through the motions, but not truly engage your heart with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your lips to speak your true heart to God. Have a cleansing, honest, forthright conversation with God about your heart – and then welcome Him to cleanse your heart (Psalm 51:1-12).


 For a guide to fasting, read our initial post “Why Fast?” and also Richard Foster’s great article on “The Purpose of Fasting.”