40 Days Prayer & Fasting
March 17, 2018 5:12 AM

Day 28

March 17, 2018 5:12 AM
March 17, 2018 5:12 AM

FOCUS: ADORATION, CONFESSION, THANKSGIVING & SUPPLICATION

 


"It is men’s ignorance of themselves that makes prayer little in request: hunger best teaches men to beg. You would be oftener on your knees, if you were oftener in your hearts. Prayer would not seem so needless, if you knew your needs. Know yourselves, and be prayerless if you can."

~ Unknown

Begin with Adoration

This week we have been reaching back to part of a hymn first published in 1695 by Anglican Bishop Thomas Ken. These four lines are some of the most treasured and sung in the history of the Church. We know it as the Doxology.

We want to encourage you to read, and sing—yes, sing—the Doxology as your prayer of adoration! You may want to sing it a few times. If you would like, sing along by clicking the play button above. Praise God…for all His blessings.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The Doxology, by Thomas Ken

Continue with Confession

This week, let’s allow sections of David’s Psalm 32 guide us in confession…

Psalm 32

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.

11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.

As the Spirit brings any sin to mind, confess it as sin and turn from it (repent). Thank God that He forgives our sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Now offer words of Thanksgiving

Begin by adding one or two more things to your list of things you are thankful for looking back on the past year…

"…always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;"

Ephesians 5:20

One of the most important things to note about this verse is what precedes it, particularly Ephesians 5:18.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…

Ephesians 5:18

As we learn by studying the whole of Scripture, there is nothing we can do in the Christian life apart from the empowering power of the Holy Spirit. Giving thanks in all things is impossible to do, apart from doing so in dependence upon—relying upon—the Holy Spirit.

Pause before continuing to give thanks, and make sure you are depending upon the Spirit’s presence and power within you to express your gratitude for all things

Conclude with Supplication & Intercession…

"If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them,

and this will lead us to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others."

~ Richard Foster

Let’s continue to begin our times of supplication and intercession by praying for those we know, who do not yet know Christ.

Now, ask God for what you need from Him today.

Prayer Board - This past week for our monthly Staff Prayer time, our church staff prayed through every single card on the Prayer Board and placed each at the foot of the cross in the worship center. If you wrote something on one of those cards, it was prayed for. We encourage you to continue to go to the Prayer Board in the auditorium at Woodmoor or the lobby at Northgate and pray through some of these prayer needs. (And if you do, initial the card in red marker!) And of course, fill out one of the cards if you have something for which you desire prayer as well. 

If you have chosen to fast today, Saturday, March 17th, please read through our Fasting Guide to prepare your heart to engage in this spiritual discipline.

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Guide to Prayer and Fasting

By Pastor Brian Petak

As we've begun this new year with a powerful teaching series on prayer and now look to what God has in store for The Ascent in this next season, we believe there is nothing more important for us to do than seek God’s heart, wisdom, direction and blessing. It has been, and will always be His will above our own! Through this season of prayer and fasting, we trust that God will renew our hearts for all that breaks and delights His own.

We invite you to pray with us throughout this 40-day season and, in addition, choose a day to fast between Febuary  14th and April 1st. May we be changed, that we might change the world for His glory.

If you haven't done so already, text 40DAYS to 555888 to receive a link to our daily devotional each morning during the 40 days, beginning February 14 and concluding on Easter Sunday, April 1. 

If you'd like to receive the devotional via email, click here


 

What is prayer?

Prayer at its essence is an ongoing talk with God. It is hearing and it is speaking. It is words spoken and words received. It is a quiet heart. It is a crying heart. It is foundational to life, the “abundant” life that Christ promised.

Like God’s people before us, we are choosing to designate a season in which we individually and corporately make “talking with God” our first priority.

Why should I pray?

We do so because we need Him. We do so because we need to know His will, His power, His direction, His favor, His blessing. In John the Baptist's words, we want more of Him and less of us.

We pray because we are following the Servant King, and it was His habit to pray—it was His life. Jesus says in John 5:19-20, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing… For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing…”

How was it that Jesus lived with such clear intentionality, able to navigate the chaos and demands of life, such that in 33 years He accomplished all He was meant to accomplish? Surely it was His constant communion with the Father—seeing, hearing, and knowing the heart of God the Father.

And this points us to the essence of prayer: communion with God. Deepening our relationship with Christ. Knowing God.

We embark upon these days of prayer and fasting not to “get something from God,” but to know God better and deepen our relationship with Him. There is no higher calling in life and there is no other foundation in prayer. While prayer does involve our “asking” of God, our requests flow from our relationship. In this way, our requests become a reflection of our relationship with God, not our wish list to God.

How will we pray?

We see the Early Church growing and expanding in the Book of Acts - a good reminder of the fundamental elements of talking with God, the acronym: ACTS. Over the course of the 40 days, we will use this outline in each day’s prayer guide, beginning with adoration, then adding each subsequent element in the weeks that follow.

Adoration

We always begin by recognizing and simply sitting in awe of the character and actions of God.

Confession

Seeing God for who He is allows us to truly see ourselves, thereby confessing the ways we fall short of His character.

Thanksgiving

Giving thanks unlocks gratitude in our hearts and enables us to see and experience the mercies, kindness and provisions of God.

Supplication

Supplication is asking God for what we need, what we desire and what we hope for others. This is our response to Jesus’s invitation to “ask” for what we need.

"The key to Christian living is a thirst and hunger for God. And one of the main reasons people do not understand or experience the sovereignty of grace and the way it works through the awakening of sovereign joy is that their hunger and thirst for God is so small." ~ John Piper, A Hunger for God

What is fasting?

Abstaining from food for spiritual reasons.

Why fast?

We fast not to get something we want from God, but for God to change our wants. We fast because Jesus fasted, He expected we would fast, and we see that the early church fasted.

We are fasting because in this new season in our church's story, we want what God wants more than ever. It is a season in which we are placing this desire into concrete action. In fasting, we choose a period of time in which we forsake what we need to live physically (food), in recognition that our greater need is to live spiritually, and that means we need God.

How are we going to fast?

We are inviting everyone to pray throughout the 40-day season and to choose one day between February 14th and April 1st to fast. (By the way, prayer and fasting are never separated in the Scripture.) Whether you are skipping a meal or skipping all meals for an entire day, take that meal time (or a specific, scheduled time) to pray, read your Bible, listen to God, meditate, and reflect.

How do I fast?

Here are some possible fasts you may wish to do:

  1. Normal Food Fast - Going without food for a predetermined period of time. It could be one day or several days. One must drink water, and be cautious of existing medical conditions.

  2. Partial Food Fast - Going without a meal during the day, or multiple meals for one day. A partial food fast may also mean going without a certain kind of food for a set period.

  3. Juice or Fruit Fast - Choosing only to have a certain juice or fruit for a meal for a period of time (adapted from a fast guide from Perimeter Presbyterian Church, Atlanta GA).

  4. Other Fast - You can also fast from various activities that you may sense the Lord prompting you to go without for a time: watching TV, social media, texting, consuming alcohol and many others. Especially if you have issues related to food, this may be a way God may prompt you to fast during this time.

Our prayer is that individually and corporately the fruit of our time of prayer and fasting is a deeper hunger and thirst for God, that results in a greater hunger and thirst for the things of God – His glory made known through the gospel that changes lives, that change the world.

Learn more about the what, why and how of biblical fasting from Richard Foster's article.

Content adapted from Fellowship Bible Church, Brentwood, TN, Pastor Lloyd Shadrach.