Prayer Guide | Saturday, March 31st
FOCUS: PRAYING THE SCRIPTURE, PRAYING GOD'S WILL
HARRINGTON: ‘And God hears your prayer, doesn't he? We hear Joy's getting better.’
LEWIS: ‘That's not why I pray, Harry. I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God, it changes me.’
William Nicholson, Shadowlands
Begin with Adoration
Day 40!! Oh my, it has flown by. Question:
Has it changed us?
Let’s conclude this final adoration by completing the following statements:
- Oh, God, You are…
- Lord, You have been…
- And You will always be…
- From the rising of the sun to its setting may I speak of Your…
- Today, Father, may I rest because You…
- Oh, God, You are…
- Lord, You have been…
- And You will always be…
Continue with Confession
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
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
Add to your list anything that comes to mind you have yet to note that you are thankful for in 2017-18. Would you pause to review the list you have compiled, and note if there are any “hard, difficult, not what you hoped for” type of things on your list?
Don’t forget, He is our Sovereign God…
See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand. Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. I am the Lord, and there is no other; Beside Me there is no God. The one forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity. I am the Lord who does all these.
Our “thanks” for those things that are difficult are not a capitulation to the power of sin and evil. They are declarations of faith—a faith that says God is in control, He is all powerful, He is wholly good, and He loves us. For the cross and the Bible tell us so.
Let your thanks be all inclusive…
Conclude with Supplication & Intercession…
God saved us, that through us He would save others. Pray for those who do not know Christ, that God would open their eyes to the grace of the gospel…
We have been praying Scripture this final week. If I could summarize the things we have been praying for our church as we look into this next season, I would be hard pressed to find a more appropriate prayer than Paul’s prayer in Colossians 3:12-17.
Make this prayer your own, and pray this prayer for us as a community of faith:
12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Let’s end this 40 Days of Prayer & Fasting by going back to where we started. We entered this time because we are at a juncture. The past is behind us, and as we look into this next ministry season we desperately desire God to renew our hearts and our vision for what He wants for The Ascent moving forward.
We have experienced challenges from without and from within over the years, and they have taken their toll, even as God has used them to break us and shape us more and more into the image and likeness of Christ.
Humbly, in ongoing repentance and dependence, let us join with one accord and ask…
- Pray that God—in His grace and by His Spirit—would make us to be “of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32a).
- God, please grant Spirit-directed clarity and direction around mission and vision.
- God, we ask for Your wisdom, clarity and discernment for how best to structure our church and strategies with the two existing campuses.
- God, may Your Spirit superintend the process of developing leaders, raising up men and women of character, full of the Spirit to shepherd and lead your people with integrity of heart and skillful hands (Psalm 78:72).
- Pray that we may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so the we will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. (Colossians 1:9-12)
And we end this season with praise on our lips. Pray or sing along…
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
The Doxology, by Thomas Ken
If you have chosen to fast today, Saturday, March 31st, please read through our Fasting Guide to prepare your heart to engage in this spiritual discipline.
Published on March 31, 2018 @ 5:31 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.