40 Days Prayer & Fasting
March 23, 2018 5:24 AM

Day 33

March 23, 2018 5:24 AM
March 23, 2018 5:24 AM

FOCUS: PRAYING FOR OUR OURSELVES, FOR OTHERS, FOR OUR CHURCH,

FOR GOD’S WILL AND FOR HIS GLORY

 


"Don’t seek to develop a prayer life — seek a praying life. A ‘prayer life’ is a segmented time for prayer. You’ll end feeling guilty that you don’t spend more time in prayer. Eventually you’ll probably feel defeated and give up. A ‘praying life’ is a life that is saturated with prayerfulness — you seek to do all that you do with the Lord."

~ Dallas Willard

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.

I Sing the Mighty Power of God

I sing the mighty pow’r of God,
That made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad,
And built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
The sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at His command,
And all the stars obey. 

I sing the goodness of the Lord,
Who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word,
And then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed,
Where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread,
Or gaze upon the sky.

There’s not a plant or flow’r below,
But makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow,
By order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee
Is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be,
Thou, God, art present there.

Isaac Watts (1715)

Continue with Confession

This week, we will trust the Spirit to use Proverbs 28:13 to prompt our confession. Remember the power of sin is its secrecy. You are not alone in your sin, and confession brings not condemnation, but forgiveness in Christ. If the Lord so prompts you, confess your sin to a Christian brother or sister, for in so doing you will experience the grace and love of Christ…and freedom (James 5:16).

Proverbs 28:13

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 2017-18.

Continuing with Psalm 116:12

What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?

Psalm 116:12

We render thanks. Consider the “benefits” of God toward you, and thank him specifically for them. For example, another benefit of God toward us is His protection (Psalm 20:1). “God, thank you for your daily protection…from things I don’t even perceive…”

Conclude with Supplication & Intercession…

…if prayer is the heart of religion, then petition is the heart of prayer.

Herbert Farmer

Remember, 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 invites and delights in our asking.

Let’s begin by praying for those we know who do not yet know Christ…

Secondly, let’s continue to pray for people who may think they are Christians, but who have not personally put their trust in the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

Now, considering your own needs, is there something you need from God for this day? Ask Him…

Including today, we have eight more days in our 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting. This season of seeking was prompted by at least two things. First, over the past several years we have come through some pretty tough waters, including several leadership changes. We wanted this time of prayer to acknowledge our dependence and need for God.

And secondly, we can sense that God is leading us into a new season of ministry effectiveness and personal transformation. It's time to climb!

We want to be in lock step with the Holy Spirit. While anchored in the unchanging Word and unstoppable purposes of God, we recognize that the next number of years will require us to adjust to the challenges and changes of our local and global context.

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 their prayers our corporate prayers…

  • That we would be a body of people who deeply desire to live life WITH God, through the power and work of the Spirit, and become fully alive because of the shame-shattering, heart-changing blood of Jesus.
  • For our hearts, mind, & hands to soak in the Gospel like a sponge. Drenched. Filled up to fullness that it transforms us into something new. That it pours out into our families, communities, and into the world, making disciples and serving.
  • That we would be an authentic community of faith that demonstrates Gospel reconciliation in all of our brokenness for the whole community to see.

If you have chosen to fast today, Friday, March 23rd, 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.