Prayer Guide | Tuesday, March 20th
FOCUS: PRAYING FOR OUR OURSELVES, FOR OTHERS, FOR OUR CHURCH,
FOR GOD’S WILL AND FOR HIS GLORY
"Lord, I know not what I ought to ask of You. You only know what I need. You know me better than I know myself. O Father, give to Your child what he himself knows not how to ask. Teach me to pray. Pray Yourself in me."
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.
Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above
Sing praise to God Who reigns above,
the God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love,
the God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul is filled
and every faithless murmur stilled:
To God all praise and glory.
What God’s almighty power hath made,
His gracious mercy keepeth,
By morning glow or evening shade,
His watchful eye ne’er sleepeth;
Within the kingdom of His might,
Lo! all is just and all is right:
To God all praise and glory.
The Lord is never far away,
but through all grief distressing,
An ever present help and stay,
our peace and joy and blessing.
As with a mother’s tender hand,
God gently leads the chosen band:
To God all praise and glory.
Thus, all my toilsome way along,
I sing aloud Thy praises,
That earth may hear the grateful song,
my voice unwearied raises.
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart,
both soul and body bear your part:
To God all praise and glory.
Johann Jacob Schütz (1675)
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
Start by adding one to two things to the list of things you are grateful for that happened in 2017.
Continuing with Psalm 116:12…
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, another benefit of God toward us is that His thoughts toward us outnumber the sand (Psalm 139:17-18). “God, thank you that I cannot count your thoughts toward me, which means you care about me more than I can imagine.”
Conclude with Supplication & Intercession…
…if prayer is the heart of religion, then petition is the heart of prayer.
Let’s begin by praying for people we know or have some measure of relationship with who do not yet know Christ. Use the list we made a few weeks ago when we listed people we know who have not come to faith in Christ.
Secondly, as we explained yesterday, let’s pray for those who may think they are Christians, but they have never personally put their faith in Christ’s life, death and resurrection, trusting Him alone for a right standing with God.
Now, considering your own needs, is there something you need from God for this day? Ask Him…
We will conclude our time of supplication and intercession by praying for specific prayer requests that our leaders are praying for The Ascent. We are making these prayers our corporate prayers…
- That people will grow in Christ and be so filled with the Spirit, to be able to step out of comfort to love, lead, serve, teach, and welcome the hurting and lost with grace and truth. That we will go out and find them, because they may not come to us. Please Jesus, guide our steps and hearts and words.
- That the body would truly know the gospel and the freedom that comes from no longer having to try harder, but to walk in freedom and life change that was purchased for us on the cross. And then we would go and live this freedom to the world—where we live, work, and play.
- In a time of hurting and unrest in our world, we would shine the light and love of Jesus so brightly in our city and around the world that people are drawn to Him, wounds are healed, and divisions are broken down—all through God's Spirit in His people in this church.
- Obedience to Christ in our decisions and in our smallest interactions.
If you have chosen to fast today, Tuesday, March 20th, please read through our Fasting Guide to prepare your heart to engage in this spiritual discipline.
Published on March 20, 2018 @ 6:13 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.