40 Days Prayer & Fasting
March 30, 2018 5:12 AM

Day 39

March 30, 2018 5:12 AM
March 30, 2018 5:12 AM

FOCUS: PRAYING THE SCRIPTURE, PRAYING GOD'S WILL

 


"Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying.

He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil,

he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray."

~Samuel Chadwick

Holy Week

Today is Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ went on trial, was tortured, suffered like a common criminal and was killed, nailed to a wooden cross. We will be reflecting on His sacrifice on our behalf at 6:30pm this evening at our Good Friday service at the Woodmoor Campus. Please join us. And now, take a few minutes to meditate on John 18 & 19 and appreciate what Christ did on our behalf - to provide for us forgiveness of sins and a pathway to God.

Begin with Adoration

We have today and tomorrow remaining in our 40 Days of Prayer & Fasting. Then, Sunday morning, we conclude our season of prayer and fasting together with an Easter Celebration!

As we conclude these daily prayers, I will prompt you with a word from Scripture and allow it to guide you in your adoration…

Isaiah 6:3

And one called out to another and said,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”

Continue with Confession

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:8

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

James 5:16

As the Spirit brings any sin to mind, confess it (agree with God that it is sin) and turn from it (repent). Is there someone you need to confess your sin to? Confessing our sin to one another does not forgive the sin. The context of this verse is those who are spiritually weary and discouraged. To bring our confession to another is a means of our souls being encouraged, refreshed, to have our “soul” healed.

Don’t bypass this if you sense the Spirit prompting you to share your sin with a brother or sister. It will be an encouragement to them, and to you, and an invitation to walk and pray with you in your sin.

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 our fellowship with Him is restored.

Now offer words of Thanksgiving

Continue to add one to two things to the list of things you are grateful for that have happened in 2017-2018.

Today, reflect on the work God has done in your life through your time at The Ascent. In what ways have you grown, your heart and character transformed? How has your understanding of God, His word and His ways deepened? What are some ways He shown Himself to you and your family, how are you following Christ more fully because of your involvement here?

Let’s give thanks for these things, for a community of faith–flaws and all–that we get to belong to…

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 The Ascent who may think they are Christians, but have not personally put their trust in Christ…

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 continue to invite you to pray the Scriptures themselves. If we want to know God’s will and pray God’s will, this is one of the ways He make His will clear.

Here is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church. I marvel that when he could have prayed anything for them, he could think of nothing more important than a deepening and grounding in the love of Christ. Not our love for Him…but His love for us!

After reading this prayer, would you first of all make it your own, but would you also make this a prayer for us, for The Ascent Church? For as God answers this prayer, His love will rule in our hearts, in our relationships with each other, with everyone we know, and in this God is glorified.

Ephesians 3:14–19

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Next, I want you to see how this prayer ends:

Ephesians 3:20-21

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Would you conclude your time of prayer by asking that God would do “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or seek, according to the power that works in us.” May he do that which brings Him the most glory in our church, not just now, but for generations to come.

 If you have chosen to fast today, Friday, March 30th, 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.