Prayer Guide | Monday, March 19th
FOCUS: PRAYING FOR OUR OURSELVES, FOR OTHERS, FOR OUR CHURCH,
FOR GOD’S WILL AND FOR HIS GLORY
"When we become glib in prayer, we are most surely talking to ourselves."
Begin with Adoration
This week we are going to continue to let the great hymns of the Church teach us about adoration. After reading the lyrics to this hymn, use it like an Old Testament Psalm, allowing the words to become your own words of adoration and praise.
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
Robert Robertson (1735-1790)
Continue with Confession
This week, we will trust the Spirit to use Proverbs 28:13 to prompt our confession. The power of sin is in its “secrecy” where it holds us captive to thoughts like “if someone really knew they would not love me” or “I am the only one with such a wicked heart” or even “I don’t know that God can forgive me again.” Every one of these statements is a lie. Proverbs 28:13 is true:
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
As the Spirit brings any sin to mind, confess it (agree with God that it is sin) and turn from it (repent). Thank God that He forgives our sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness on the basis of the finished work of Jesus and the promise of 1 John 1:9.
Now offer words of Thanksgiving
Remember last week we began a list of things we are grateful for as we look back on this past year. Thinking back, continue to add one to two things to your “2017-18 Thankful List” to be reviewed on Easter.
Continuing in thanksgiving, Psalm 116:12 says…
What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
We render “thanks and gratitude.” Consider the “benefits” of God toward you, and thank him specifically for them. For example, one benefit is that we are never alone: “God, thank you that I am never alone, even when it feels like I am.”
Conclude with Supplication & Intercession…
…if prayer is the heart of religion, then petition is the heart of prayer.
~ Herbert Farmer
Supplication is making our own needs known to God and asking that He meet them. Intercession is making the needs of others known to God, and asking Him to meet them. Both are petitions and are “the heart of prayer.” God delights in and invites us to ask.
Let’s begin by praying for people we know or have some contact with who do not yet know Christ. Pray God would open their hearts to believe, to see for the first time the wonder of grace—that God has done everything for us in Christ and we only need to trust that what He did, He did for me.
Secondly—and this may sound odd at first, but stay with me—let’s pray together for those who are at The Ascent who may not truly know Christ yet. Some people at The Ascent have been in church their whole life, but they have never personally come to faith. They have never been truly “born again” (John 3:3). Let’s pray that they find The Ascent a safe place to even consider the question “Am I truly saved?” and courageously pursue a personal relationship with Christ—faith alone in Christ alone.
Third, consider your own needs. What is going on in your life today where you know you cannot do it on your own, and you need God’s Spirit in you to enable, guide, direct and empower you? Pray specifically for those things.
And finally, let's pray some specific things for The Ascent Church as we look forward to this next ministry year together:
- Malachi 4:6 and Luke 1:17 - That the gospel is preached and transforms the men of our church to serve their God, families, and communities. Pray that men are discipled to know the love of our Father and that God unifies the body of Christ.
- That we would continue to proclaim the gospel and press on to maturity in Christ; that we would look radically different from the world around us.
- Deep in our soul to know the depth of the love of Christ for us; that our identify would be fully found in Him so that we may love and serve without fear.
- An outpouring of God's passion for people.
If you have chosen to fast today, Monday, March 19th, please read through our Fasting Guide to prepare your heart to engage in this spiritual discipline.
Published on March 19, 2018 @ 5:28 AM MDT
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.
We always begin by recognizing and simply sitting in awe of the character and actions of God.
Seeing God for who He is allows us to truly see ourselves, thereby confessing the ways we fall short of His character.
Giving thanks unlocks gratitude in our hearts and enables us to see and experience the mercies, kindness and provisions of God.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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).
- 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.