Prayer Guide | Thursday, February 22nd
Focus: ADORATION & CONFESSION
"If the Spirit of God detects anything in your life that is wrong … He asks you to accept the light,
and He will put it right. A child of the light confesses instantly and stands bared before God;
a child of the darkness says—Oh, I can explain that away."
Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest
As we begin this week of a focus on confession, it is important that we take a few moments to understand what confession is, why it matters, and how confession operates in the life of a believer.
The primary Greek word for “confession” literally means “to say the same thing.” Thus the idea of “confession” in our prayers is to agree with God; to admit and acknowledge. It is to agree with God that He is great and almighty, and we are not; to admit that He is in control and we are not; to acknowledge that He is without sin, but we are not.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
John is writing to believers in this passage. He is addressing the Christian’s fellowship with God, not their secure standing with God wherein one is justified by the work of Christ, forever a son or daughter.
When a person puts their trust in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, all of their sins and the just penalty due are forgiven—past, present and future. The Christian is in a relationship with God that can never change: We become sons and daughters by means of the new birth in Christ! However, while our relationship with God as His sons and daughters is unchangeable, our moment by moment experience of intimacy, affection and communion will be disrupted by sin.
J. Hampton Keathely gives us some helpful insight on 1 John 1:9:
“Confess” is in the present continuous tense in the Greek text. This is what is called the iterative present. It refers to continuous repeated action like that of a hacking cough. The idea is, repeatedly, whenever we recognize sin, we are at that very moment to confess it and to look to the ministry of the Spirit of God and the principles of the Word for power to overcome that sin while resting in God’s forgiveness.
The promise is that God is faithful and righteous (just) to forgive us and cleanse us. If we will honestly and ruthlessly confess our sins, God is faithful every single time to forgive us. He restores us to fellowship. Known sin grieves the person of the Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and quenches His power (1Thess. 5:19). Known sin…breaks fellowship, and hinders our walk with the Lord.
J. Hampton Keathely, from ABCs for Christian Growth – Laying the Foundation
Confession restores our fellowship with God, and puts us in a position for the Holy Spirit's power to continue His work of transforming us into the image of Christ from the inside out.
Begin with Adoration
Let Paul’s words in Ephesians 1 regarding all we have in Jesus guide our adoration today:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.
Now, praise God for what He has done for us in Christ as described in these verses. For example, “I praise you, God, for adopting me through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.”
Continue with Confession
Ask God to bring to your mind any known sin that is disrupting your fellowship with Him. Be specific about your sin and its consequences, knowing that God knows before the words ever cross your lips. He wants us to confess our sin for us, for our own hearts.
For example, my confession may sound something like this:
—Lord, I confess thoughts of lust, and dwelling on those thoughts…
—I confess that what I said to that person was out of anger, and I wanted to hurt them for hurting me…
—I confess, Lord, that I am avoiding you because I am mad at you…
Confession is not about “beating yourself up,” it is about bringing yourself before God—your true self, true motivations, thoughts, attitudes and actions.
Keathley continues in ABCs for Christian Growth – Laying the Foundation:
The only sins we can confess are our known sins, but as John 1:8and 10 suggest, as long as we are in this life, we will never be perfect or without sin. There will always be areas that need change. In other words, there will always be unknown sins. The promise is that as long as we are confessing our known sins and seeking earnestly to walk with the Lord, He not only forgives the sins we confess but He cleanses us from all sin (our unknown sins) and fellowship is maintained.
Cleansing us may also refer to the transformation process that confession is designed to bring about as it causes us to deal with sin and seek the fellowship and strength of God. Confession is not just to avoid divine discipline.
J. Hampton Keathely, from ABCs for Christian Growth – Laying the Foundation
In confession we repent, turn from our sin, and turn toward God in faith. Our repentance is not just a change of mind, but a change of affections and will, such that our repentance shows up in how we live.
Conclude your time of confession by acknowledging and accepting that God—through faith in Christ—indeed forgives and cleanses you from all sin and unrighteousness. Thank Him for fellowship restored and deepened.
If you have chosen to fast today, Thursday, February 22nd, please read through our Fasting Guide to prepare your heart to engage in this spiritual discipline.
[Please pray for Megan Oseland, 13-yr old daughter of Neal & Stacy Oseland, who suffered a brain bleed stroke a week ago, was admitted to the ER, and is now in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The bleeding occurred near her brain stem on the right side of her brain. Megan has shown continuous improvement and has not only begun speaking again, but has recently been able to move her left arm, hand and fingers. Pray for her as she experiences moments of extreme sadness as she better understands cognitively what she has experienced in this last week. She is still in very serious condition, and the road to recovery will be long, so please continue to pray diligently for Megan - as well as her parents, Neal & Stacy, and her siblings Taylor and Ryan.]
content adapted from Fellowship Bible Church, Brentwood, TN - Pastor Lloyd Shadrach
Published on February 22, 2018 @ 10:51 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.