40 Days Prayer & Fasting
March 28, 2018 5:03 AM

Day 37

March 28, 2018 5:03 AM
March 28, 2018 5:03 AM

FOCUS: PRAYING THE SCRIPTURE, PRAYING GOD'S WILL

 


 

"I used to think the Lord's Prayer was a short prayer; but as I live longer, and see more of life, I begin to believe there is no such thing as getting through it. If a man, in praying that prayer, were to be stopped by every word until he had thoroughly prayed it, it would take him a lifetime."

~Henry Ward Beecher

Begin with Adoration

We have four days remaining in our 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting. We celebrate the culmination of these 40 Days together on Easter Sunday as we celebrate Christ's resurrection!

In this last week, I will prompt you with a word from Scripture. Allow it to guide you in your adoration…

1 Chronicles 16:29

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him;
Worship the Lord in holy array.

Continue with Confession

While all our sin—past, present and future—has been paid for by the death of Christ, and we are forgiven of all these sins, our current sin still bears a cost. We feel guilt, and our fellowship* (not our relationship!) with God is broken and hindered. Confession is God’s gift of grace by which we acknowledge our sin, we confess it (agree with God that it is sin) and thereby experience forgiveness and restored fellowship with God.

(*My children will always be my children, my relationship with them is unchangeable: I am their father and they are my children. Nothing changes that. However, when one of my kids (when they were younger) disobeys, rebels, and chooses their own way, our fellowship—our experience of closeness, the joy of communion and life together—is broken and hindered. Again, our relationship remains unaltered in the slightest.)

Here in Psalm 66:16-20, we are reminded of the terrible cost of unconfessed sin, and the wonderful gift of confession:

Psalm 66:16-20

16 Come and hear, all who fear God,
And I will tell of what He has done for my soul.
17 I cried to Him with my mouth,
And He was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I regard wickedness in my heart,
The Lord will not hear;
19 But certainly God has heard;
He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer
Nor His lovingkindness from me.

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, and that fellowship with Him is restored.

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 and the beginning of 2018..

Today, let us corporately give thanks to God for our Global Partners:

  • Nelson (Pablo Paulino) with Semillas de Esperanza (Seeds of Hope) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (VisionTrust)
  • Jaime Lopez and Pastor Valerio through One Challenge’s ministry SEPAL in Guatemala
  • Pastor Richard Makani and his wife Hellen with Seeds Ministry in Kitale, Kenya
  • Wondimu Endale at Mehale Ketama Kale Heywet Church in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia (ROTOM and Compassion International)
  • Rev. P.F. Moyo with Zimbabwe National Evangelism Task (ZIMNET - One Challenge) in Zimbabwe

Conclude with Supplication & Intercession…

First, let’s continue to pray for those that we know do not know Christ, and for any who are at Fellowship who may think they are Christians, but are not.

Second, pray that God—in His grace and by His Spirit—would make us to be “of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32a).

Third, I’d like to invite you to pray the Scriptures themselves. One of the most life changing ways that we can pray is by learning to pray the prayers of Scripture. As you learn to make the prayers of Scripture your own prayers, you can be confident that you are asking for that which is in the jet stream of God’s will.

My prayer is that praying like this will become a habit of heart, soul, mind and strength, that we pray these prayers for ourselves, and for others till the day we die—when these prayers will be completely fulfilled, becoming our eternal reality.

Here is the prayer that Jesus taught the disciples when they asked Him to teach them to pray. Read it, then make it your own prayer:

Matthew 6:8–13

“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

Finally, using the prayer Jesus taught the disciples above, pray this prayer for our Global Partners. They are giving their lives away to bring God’s kingdom to places most of us will never go. They do so at great cost to themselves and their families. Along these lines, pray for our Global Christmas giving in December, that God’s generosity through us would continue to be evident as we give to enable these partners to extend God’s kingdom.

If you have chosen to fast today, Wednesday, March 28th, 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.