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 8:16-21


       16     And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.

       17     And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?

       18     Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?

       19     When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.”

       20     “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.”

       21     And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Connect the Heart

Let’s consider two critical concepts out of today’s passage—both center around the theme of Bread (leaven) that is prevalent throughout scriptural.  

The first concept is of bread as a metaphor for the ideas that feed our minds and hearts. As Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus warned his disciples about Herod’s bread and Pharisee bread. Herod was the Roman appointed governor over Israel and so he represents government and political ideas. The Pharisees were the dominant “conservative” religious movement of that day, and so they represent morality-based ideas.   

The second concept is that of the left-over baskets of bread after the two miracles of feeding the 5,000/Jewish and 4,000/pagan crowds. In one instance, 12 baskets of bread were collected (over and above the immediate need), which symbolically represented the Jewish people (the 12 tribes of Israel). Jesus therefore showed He is the provider for “us”–the people who seek God. In the other instance, seven baskets were left over, which represented “them” people (see Deuteronomy 7:1). Jesus loves even the people who don’t know Him (yet!) and wants goodness for all humanity. In both cases, Jesus shows that He provides abundantly. There is no scarcity of provision for everyone in the Kingdom of God.

Reflect on the Truth

  1. How is your heart enticed by belief systems other than those of Jesus? Do you see God as the lover of all of humanity, or just people like you? Do you believe that God can provide abundance? 
  2. How is your heart drawn into the leaven of political rhetoric (Herod)—the idea of scarcity (there isn’t enough to go around, so there has to be winners and losers)? 

    3. How is your heart drawn into the leaven of moralistic absolutes (pharisees)–the idea of black and white (right and wrong) that condemns first instead of loving first?  
    4. 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 do tend to see things in black and white, and admit I lean toward judging others. Lord, I need your help.”) The Lord can help us discern the path forward – through His word, His Spirit, His people.

    Depend on the Spirit

    1. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are not loving-first. Ask Him to soften your heart toward the “thems” of this world. He wants all His children to love all His children—even the ones that are hard to love. 
      2. Ask the Holy Spirit to free you from the anxiety of political-leaven and its fear that there isn’t enough to go around. Ask Him for faith to believe that the Kingdom is an abundant place—both in the now and in eternity.


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