2022 Fasting Booklet
My God is doing new things.
He has made me a new wineskin.
By faith I will carry the authority
of the Holy Spirit.
By faith I will preach the Gospel.
By faith I will cast out devils.
By faith I will lay hands on the sick
and they shall recover.
This is the greatest year of my own life.
I will see the glory of God in 2022
I say yes Lord
Here I am Lord, Send me.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
- Fasting Guide
- Types of Fasts
- Day 1, January 1
- Day 2, January 2
- Day 3, January 3
- Day 4, January 4
- Day 5, January 5
- Day 6, January 6
- Day 7, January 7
- Day 8, January 8
- Day 9, January 9
- Day 10, January 10
21 Days of Prayer and Fasting Guide
Sometimes it seems there are times when God is trying to get our attention. What if God is trying to get your attention? What if God is calling your name? What if God is trying to help you take a turn in life right now? In these 21 days of prayer and fasting, it is not only possible but probable that God will speak into your life and use this as a turning point.
This season of prayer and fasting will be aided and accompanied by several tools in this document, including: a Biblical guide to fasting, different fasting options, and a prayer guide for each of the 21 days that includes a central Biblical passage, a brief devotional thought, reflection questions, and a prayer.
We eagerly await what the Lord will do for us, in us and through us during these very special 21 days.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. - Ephesians 1:17-19a
what does the Bible teach about fasting?
Biblical fasting involves abstaining from eating (and/or drinking) for spiritual purposes.
In the Old Testament, Israel celebrated certain annual fasts, the most prominent being the Day of Atonement.
There were also occasional fasts tied to specific historical events, sometimes individual and sometimes corporate. Here are a few of the occasions for fasting: at a time of grief (I Sam. 31:13; Nehemiah 1:4), at a time of repentance (I Sam 7:6; I Kings 21:27), as an expression of humility (Ezra 8:21; Psalm 69:10), and as an expression of a need for God’s guidance and help. What all of these fasts share in common is that they were an expression of dependence on God.
Several New Testament passages give us insight about fasting.
Fasting teaches us to that God’s Word nourishes us: Matthew 4:1-4 records the only example of Jesus fasting, just prior to His being tempted in the wilderness. He faced temptation with these words, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3-5 which talks about the 40 years Israel spent in the wilderness, depending daily on manna to sustain them. He says that God humbled them and let them be hungry in order to teach them to depend on God’s Word to sustain them. By His example of fasting, Jesus reminds us that food alone can’t sustain us. We need to be nourished by God’s Word.
Fasting teaches us that doing God’s will sustains us: John 4:31-35 records Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. When the disciples return, they encourage Jesus to eat. He responds by saying, “I have food to eat that you know not of.” Then He adds, “My food is to do the will of the Father.” Again, Jesus reminds us that food alone is not enough. We are sustained by doing God’s will.
Fasting teaches us that Jesus Himself sustains us: In John 6:48-50 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.” We see this pictured symbolically in the bread and the cup of the Lord ’s Supper. Jesus is the source of eternal life. Fasting is feasting on Jesus.
Jesus assumed that fasting would be a part of His disciple’s spiritual life. In Matthew 6:16-18, He says, “when you fast,” not “if you fast.” He warns us not to fast to impress people, but to be near to the heart of God.
what is the purpose of fasting?
Fasting is designed to intensify our dependence on God by weakening our dependence on food and other things. How does it do that?
Fasting reveals and heals our dependence on food (and other things) to fill the discomfort caused by low self-esteem, unfulfilling work, unloving relationships, uncontrollable circumstances, etc. It removes the false peace derived from the pleasure of eating.
Richard Foster says, “More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately. David writes, “I humbled my soul with fasting” (Psalm 69:10). Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear—if they are within us, they will surface during fasting.”
Fasting teaches us that we can go without getting what we want and survive. Fasting can free us from having to have what we want. Therefore, fasting can teach moderation or self-control, not only in relation to food, but in other areas as well. It teaches contentment. (I Timothy 6:6)
Fasting expresses and deepens our hunger for God. Richard Foster says, “Fasting reminds us that we are sustained “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God:” (Matt. 4:4). Food does not sustain us; God sustains us. In Christ, “All things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). Therefore, in experiences of fasting, we are abstaining from food or other activities and feasting on God’s Word.
Fasting must always, first and foremost, center on God. It must be about Him.
step 1: clarify the purpose of your fast
Why are you fasting? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically. Fasting is God-led and God-initiated. That means that He fuels a desire to fast and pray. He loves it when we fast.
step 2: specify the kind of fast you will do
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast. (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14,15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast,
decide the following up front:
•How long you will fast - one meal, one day, one week, several weeks, certain days (beginners should start slowly, building up to longer fasts)?
•The type of fast God wants you to undertake - discussed in the Types of Fasts section below.
•What physical or social activities you will restrict
•How much time each day you will devote to prayer and God’s Word
Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon it.
step 3: prepare your heart, mind, and body for fasting
Fasting is not a spur-of-the-moment thing. It is planned. We must prepare. The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Un-confessed sin can hinder your prayers. There are several things you can do to prepare your heart
•Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision.
•Do not rush into your fast. Prepare your body. Eat smaller meals before starting a fast. Avoid high fat and sugary foods. Eating raw fruit and vegetables prior to your fast is helpful. Physical preparation makes the drastic change in your eating routine a little easier so that you can turn your full attention to the Lord in prayer.
• Prepare your heart and mind: Remember that God is your Father and He loves you and is for you.
•Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (1 John1:9). Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3,4). Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you.
•Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1, 2). Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others. (Psalm 48:9,10; 103:1-8, 11-13)
• Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart. (Hebrews 11:6)
•Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit. (Galatians 5:16,17)
•Finally, and of deep importance, Jesus instructs us in Matthew to not let others know about your fasting. The strict details of your fast should not be something you constantly talk about to others. It should remain between you and God.
types of fasts
Now that we have explored the Old and New Testament teaching and instruction on fasting, we can proceed to discuss specific kinds of fasts. Let us begin with the helpful words of Richard Foster in his classic, Celebration of Discipline: “As with all the Disciplines, a progression should be observed; it is wise to learn to walk well before we try to run.”
Biblical fasting almost always concerns food. Since the purpose of fasting, as we saw above, is to focus on God, to humble ourselves and to remind ourselves that we are sustained by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, then the task in fasting is connecting our “going without” to “hungering for God.” This takes time, focus and prayer in itself. Please do not expect to be an “expert” at fasting right away. Fasting is a discipline that can take a very long time to understand well. Also, do not let this fact deter you or intimidate you.
Fasting is not unlike a beautifully written masterpiece of literature. It is simple enough for a youth to understand and enjoy, and yet magnificently rich enough for the scholar to devote his/her entire life to.
abstaining from certain types of foods (meat, sweets, etc.) - Daniel 10:3
This type is a good one for beginners to fasting or those with health needs and special or restrictive diets.
Choose to abstain from something like breads, sweets, sodas, coffee, or even red meat. Perhaps spend some time reading through Daniel’s fast in Daniel chapter 1 and chapter 10. Stick to only fruits and vegetables like he did or something similar.
Determine the timing and duration of your fast and begin. You may choose to go without this specific type of food on only certain days like Fridays, or you may go without during the weekdays only or perhaps every day. Finally, choose the duration of your fast. This fast is 21 days (January 3 -January 24) but that does not mean you must go without for all of the 21 days. Determine the timing and duration ahead of time and stick to it. Rather, pray through it.
abstaining from all food - Esther 4:16; Acts 9:9
This kind of fast is more difficult but can be broken up by timing and duration. This seems to be the most prevalent of the fasts we see in the Bible. It is also the most intimidating, but refuse to let it scare you. Fasting from all food is not scary if you determine beforehand when you will do so and for how long. Here are some ideas.
•Start slowly. Begin with fasting for only a part of a day (lunch, or lunch and dinner). Do this for one day a week, or perhaps three days a week. You determine the timing and duration. Take a step of faith. Fasting is risky and involves our faith.
•Next, try fasting from food but not beverages. This means that according to your timing and duration, you would not eat any solid foods but only water, juices, smoothies, or perhaps simple soup broths.
•Do this for the first one or two weeks. Devote the time that you normally would eat to Scripture reading and prayer. Focus on Jesus’ statements about food.
•Next, try a 24-hour fast. This means that you get up and eat a good breakfast and drink only water or juice until the following breakfast the next day. Set aside specific time, during normal meal times if possible, to pray and seek God.
•Finally, you may progress to a two or three day fast. For some, progression may lead to a multi-day, even multi-week fast. But remember the purpose of your fast.
abstaining from entertainment - Daniel 6:18
The king’s voluntary “fasting” from entertainment in the time of Daniel helps us further understand yet another type of fast. Fasting from entertainment can be particularly helpful and accessible to kids and teens.
Think of abstaining from television, iPods, video games, all reading except the Bible, music, texting, etc. for the duration of your fast. This can be a very powerful decision even as a supplement to food fasts.
Choosing your fasting plan is a very personal decision. We are all at different places in our walk with God and our spirituality should never be a cause for comparison or competition. There is nothing more “inherently spiritual” about one type of fast as opposed to another. Your personal fast should present a level of challenge, but know your body, know your options, and most importantly, seek God in prayer about this and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do. It’s also important to not let what you eat or do not eat become the focus of your fast. This is a time to disconnect enough with your regular patterns and habits in order to connect more closely to God.
If you do not choose to fast, or no matter what kind of fast you choose, seek God with us in prayer.
Day 1, January 1 (6pm)
To increase in spiritual hunger and holiness
Psalm 51:10-12: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of my salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Daniel 6:10: Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
It was Daniel’s practice, three times a day, to go to an upstairs room in his apartment, open the windows facing Jerusalem, get down on his knees, and pray to the one true God. No doubt, Daniel prayed at other times also. He probably prayed throughout the day. But there were these special times, set aside times, where it was his priority to meet with God in prayer. In fact, it was such a priority to Daniel that when the king passed a decree that for the next thirty days people could only pray to the king, Daniel was unfazed. “No way.” Daniel may have been an important official in Darius’ kingdom, but when the king’s law (don’t pray) conflicted with God’s Law (pray), the choice was clear. Daniel just kept right on praying.
Read Daniel 6. Daniel was thrown in the lion’s lair, but God protected Daniel, delivered Daniel, honored Daniel, and put it in the Bible for all to see.
Of the many truths in this stunning chapter, one concerns Daniel’s prayer. Three times a day, he set aside a special time to pray. God nowhere commands us that we must do the same, but there is wisdom here. Wisdom would suggest a special time, or several briefer times, set aside each day to meet with God in prayer. A time we prize. A time we protect. A time we prioritize.
Yes, we want to pray throughout the day, an ongoing conversation with our Father. But it is wise to also have a special time of prayer each day. Maybe it’s not a long time, but it is your time, as in you and God. It is your time to talk and listen and be together, no matter what else happens that day. Your time to connect. During that time, God will fill you up, restore your soul, and prepare you for whatever the day brings.
• Describe your thoughts around Daniel and his commitment to the Lord.
• What special time will you set aside in the next 21 days to talk and listen to God?
Lord, awaken my heart to Your love. Give me an increased hunger to spend more time in prayer, worship, and Your Word. Please give me a greater awareness of Your holiness, a tender conscience, and a heart to please You in every thought, word, and deed.
Day 2, January 2 (6pm)
To draw close to the Lord
Psalm 24:3-4: Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
Psalm 32:5: Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
How can I sincerely draw close to a God who is all powerful, all knowing, and fully aware of all the reasons I do not belong in His presence? Is it really safe? Is this really what God desires?
It is a common malady of this Christian life to face serious insecurities when considering approaching God. In my own life, I have experienced many dark seasons of feeling unworthy or uniquely disqualified from this privilege.
Why the struggle? Because I know me! I know my propensity to sin. I know my inability to give God the righteousness He deserves. If I were Him, I wouldn’t be pleased to have me come near.
Praise God. He knows we have these struggles. And, He has an answer.
First, my confidence in drawing near to God is not based on my performance. My confidence is in the performance of Jesus. Hebrews 4 instructs us to come to God with boldness based on our full confidence in the finished work of Jesus on our behalf.
And second, my confidence in drawing near to God is based on His love. I can trust His love for me. And strangely enough, the very things in my life that appear to disqualify me – sin, weakness, failure, flaws, etc. – provide convincing proof of God’s love. If someone says they love you, but are not familiar with your past failures or current weaknesses, you cannot be sure they really love you. But if they are fully aware of the good and the ‘ugly’ and love you anyway, you are truly loved. Praise God! He knows it all and loves us anyway. My sin and weakness become my opportunity to really know He loves me. I can really trust His love for me.
Today we draw near to God. We do this by uncovering the ‘ugly’ side. We confess our sin. We reveal the part of our life that puts His love for us to the test (at least in our minds). And praise God again... He proves His love. He forgives and loves us anyway.
• It’s not until we recognize the depth of our sin that we realize the depth of God’s love. What sins have you minimized to ‘little mistakes’ versus acknowledging they are what nailed Jesus to the cross?
• According to Romans 2:4, what leads us to repentance?
Heavenly Father, reveal anything in my life that would hinder my ability to come into Your presence. Help me see my propensity towards sin and help me to change. Help me to see my sin the way You see it. Thank You for loving me in spite of my failures. Lord, it is your loving-kindness that leads me to repentance.
Day 3, January 3 (6pm)
To worship with a whole heart
Psalm 111:1: Praise the Lord. I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
Psalm 27:8: My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.
In You, O God, I find my identity. When I come to seek You, I find that You are already here, seeking me. What gives my worship meaning is so much more than anything that I can do or say - it is You! You are the reason I came to exist, You are the giver of my next breath, and You are the reason for my continued being. You are the reason I worship. I worship You with my whole heart.
I come to worship You because of who You are! You are the one and only true God! I bring You praise because of Your holiness. You are so gracious to me, and You have already done more than enough for me to bring You thanksgiving. I worship You.
May my life bring glory to You, my Lord and my God. I want to worship You with my whole heart. I am not ashamed to declare my love and adoration for You before others. All I am is Yours, and I belong to you. I am Your possession. May You be pleased with my worship.
I long to recapture a spirit of genuine worship, a personal revival of my whole being, heart, soul, and spirit. Heaven and earth declare Your glory, O God, and therefore so do I. All of creation submits to You, and so my life is surrendered to You. I am willing to do Your will. How can I be in Your presence and not be changed? I long to be the kind of worshipper that You have been looking for, fully devoted to You. I worship You with my whole heart.
• How has being in God’s presence changed you?
• Because everything we do can be an act of worship, how does this affect your view and more so, your attitude about common, everyday tasks?
Humbly and yet confidently, I come into Your presence. I am relying on the promise of Christ, providing me the relationship with You as my Heavenly Father. Bring me fully into Your presence O God. Lead me more fully into Your will so that every day of my life will be worship, offering a living sacrifice to bring You glory.
Day 4, January 4 (6pm)
To set the desire of your heart
Psalm 27:4: One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
Psalm 37:4: Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
When it comes to setting our hearts in the proper place, there may be no better example outside of Jesus than an obscure often forgotten figure in the Old Testament named Ezra. He didn’t lead the first wave of exiles back to Jerusalem; he led the second. He wasn’t a powerful military leader, just a scribe. He didn’t even show up in the book that bore his name until chapter 7 (out of only 10). But once Ezra arrived on the scene, he arrived in force.
We learn that the hand of God was all over this man (Ezra 7:6,9,28). That he successfully led 5,000 people with 30 tons of precious metals on a four month, 900 mile journey from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezra 8). That he was supremely concerned about holiness and the purity of God’s people (Ezra 9). And that he ultimately led God’s people to repentance like few other scenes we read in scripture (Ezra 10).
So what’s the point? The point is that all of Ezra’s success can be Biblically directed back to the place where he set his heart. This is the key to Ezra’s life of leadership and a clear guide to success with God in our own lives. Set your heart to the study of God’s word. Set your heart to doing God’s word. And set your heart to giving God’s word away.
• The world needs more people like Ezra. Where will you set your heart?
• According to Matthew 6:33, what should you seek first?
Lord I want You to be the top priority of my life with nothing even close in second place. Help me, Father, to love You more than I ever have before. I want You to fill my heart, all of it, so Your love and grace can flow richly through me to everyone I come in contact with.
Day 5, January 5 (6pm)
To walk in wisdom and revelation
Psalm 43:3: Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.
Ephesians 1:17-18: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and the incomparably great power for us who believe.
Too often we slide slowly into the normalcy of pretending and stay there unaware. With this strange statement, I mean that as Christ Jesus has resurrected our souls by His grace, we know that light and life only come from Him. We are convinced of this emphatic truth. We’ve looked elsewhere for life and have been awakened to its emptiness. But sadly, we often return there slowly and sink into the gray of unintentional motion, conditioned responses, and banal routine.
Lord Jesus, Open our eyes!
James, the leader of the Jerusalem church, reminds us that when we lack wisdom, we should ask it of God who gives generously. In Psalm 43, the Psalmist confesses that God’s light and God’s truth are the only reliable leaders, for they bring us to where He is.
God of Heaven, Lead us with your light and truth!
As we continue our way into this consecrated season of prayer and fasting, we are coming together as a church praying that God would lead us, open our eyes, and give us the moving power of His Spirit in a fresh and awakening way. This prayer is a heart-felt, guttural, straining desire to return to True Reality, God’s light and life. We know that Christ Jesus has resurrected our souls by His grace and that light and life, along with wisdom and revelation, come only from Him.
• Where have you sensed God giving you the gift of wisdom and discernment in your life?
• James tells us that God will give us wisdom if we ask. Will you ask Him for wisdom? He promises to give it to you when you ask.
Lord, open my eyes to see You more clearly and my ears to hear anything You desire to speak. I pray for a Spirit of wisdom and revelation that I might know Jesus more deeply and have a profound understanding of the hope that is in His heart for me.
Day 6, January 8 (6pm)
To be filled with power and purpose
Psalm 61:3 & 5: For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Psalm 92:11: My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.
Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
As we near the end of the first week of fasting, you may be tired. You may be wondering how you will be able to fast for two more weeks. It reminds me of how often in life we feel tired. Physically tired, spiritually tired, emotionally tired. We have so many things pulling at our time and making us tired. Our daily task lists just seem to get longer and longer with less and less time for rest. Do you ever have those days where you just feel completely drained? Like you have nothing left to give? I often ask myself, “How can I fulfill the purpose God has for me when I feel like I have no more to give?” The answer is simple. God’s Word, the Bible.
Jesus tells us in John 15:1-4, “I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
It takes discipline to keep our devotions at the top of the priority list. Especially, when there are so many other things fighting to be at the top of the list. The Bible is very clear though, in that if we are to bear fruit we must stay connected to the vine. He will prune us to bear fruit and cut off what is not bearing fruit for His purpose. God does have a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us. We must remain in Him to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. If we put God first and stay connected to Him, He will give us the strength and power to do the tasks He has set before us.
• What areas of your life are not bearing fruit and can be pruned?
• Where will you find more time in your schedule to stay connected to the Vine?
Father God, I pray for You to help me stay connected to the Vine. Lord, I desire You in every aspect of my life. Please prune off the things that are not important and get in the way of my time with You. I know that I can only fulfill your purpose for me by being filled with Your Holy Spirit.
Day 7, January 7 (6pm)
To find and fulfill your destiny
Psalm 139:24b: ...lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 18:36: You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.
Psalm 37:23: The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.
Psalm 44:18: Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path.
So often, we are the ones to decide what we want to be or do with our life. As children, we are asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” There is an unspoken pressure to decide, and then somewhere around your junior or senior year in high school, it becomes spoken with a deadline affixed to your sophomore year in college. But, finding and fulfilling our destiny can only be done in God.
Joseph was given a dream, David had an encounter with a prophet, and Joshua had a mentor. In all three cases, God conveyed His plan into the lives of these individuals.
Jeremiah wrote that God has a plan for your life and when you seek Him, you will discover your destiny (Jeremiah 29:11- 13). Moreover, you find out His plan is far superior to yours.
Holding on to the dream is tough when you face prison time and accusation as Joseph did. The words of the prophet can fade away when you find yourself hiding and living in caves, as David did. The disciplines of your apprenticeship imparted by a mentor can become a lonely place when he is gone, as Joshua discovered.
However, all three experienced what Mary said in Luke 1:37, “no word from God is without power”. It is only the word from God that can sustain you in the long term. His plan for our lives is better than our own. The greatest joy, fulfillment, and success come when we seek Him about the direction for our lives and commit to follow His plan for us.
• Where do you believe God is leading you?
• Are you willing to surrender your plan to discover and live out His plan for you?
Lord, please give me the next step in Your Divine plan for my life. Help me to be still and know that You are God, so that I can clearly sense Your guidance and hear from You. I commit to follow You, forever.
Day 8, January 8 (6pm)
To produce the fruit of the spirit
Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
1 Corinthians 13:4: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Several years ago, after helping our young daughter memorize the above verse, she proudly recited, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not burst.” We chuckled, because while we knew she meant to say boast, there was certainly some truth in saying love does not burst as well!
Once we ask Jesus into our lives, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us. The apostle Paul gives some great advice for loving and living in the Spirit in Galatians chapter 5. He tells us we are called to serve one another humbly; to love others like we love ourselves. He goes on to list the fruit that comes from living in step with God, one of which is love.
Love is a loaded word. If you asked ten people to describe it, you’d most likely get ten different answers. The good news is we don’t have to guess what true, Godly love is. It’s spelled out for us in the Word. Love is patient and kind. It doesn’t ‘burst’ as my daughter recited, because it’s controlled and gentle. It isn’t rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. It doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth because it’s full of goodness, faithfulness, and joy. Do you see the connection between these two pieces of scripture? They weave together quite beautifully and leave us with a clear picture of what love and living in the Spirit really looks like.
• Which fruits do you think you and those in your family bear easily and often?
• Which fruits do you think you should ask God to help you bear more of?
Gracious God, thank You for Your Word that describes so clearly what love is and for Your Son Jesus who humbly modeled it on earth for us. Help my family and I to produce the Fruit of Your Spirit and love each other in a way that pleases You. May we always have a love that protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.
Day 9: January 9 (6pm)
To be saved and delivered
Psalm 18:2: The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Acts 16:31 (AMP): Believe in and on the Lord Jesus Christ—that is, give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping, and you will be saved; [and this applies both to] you and your household as well
To hide his identity, let’s call him ‘Andrew.’ He was 17 years old, grew up in a strong Christian home, and was clearly loved and cared for. He was close to graduating from high school, but the past few months had taken a turn for the worse.
Andrew was a smart kid, but academics were not his forte. His friends joked, “Andrew will work at McDonald’s for his entire life.” They thought it was funny. Andrew laughed about it on the outside, but grew more broken inside. He began to think that if that’s the way people thought of him, then he would live into it.
Early in the school year, he began to use drugs and drink alcohol with his friends. He kept it a secret from his family; he thought they would not understand. In the dark, his addictions grew, moving to harder drugs. His family tried every method to get through to him. They tried punishment, and Andrew would rebel more. They tried loving him in every way they could think of, and he rebelled more. His family was exhausted and confused. They came to a place where they finally realized that the situation was out of their hands - placing it entirely in God’s hands.
His family cannot explain it, nor can he really, but when things seemed most hopeless, God saved him. Andrew struggles to put it into words, but somehow, someway, he felt the love of God, and that altered the course of his life. It was almost as if a light when on inside him; the blinders were off. He was saved and delivered into the love of God. His family counts all of their failed attempts and gives God the glory for doing in Andrew what human beings could not.
• Who does your heart ache for God to deliver and save?
• Will you trust that God will do the impossible in their lives?
• In this painful and confusing time, will you trust God to be your rock? Take refuge in Him.
Father, I pray for the hurting and lost of this world. I ask that You do what only You can in the life of ____________ (insert name). Be their Rock, their Redeemer. Use me in effective ways to show Your love. Enter into the hearts of those far from You. Be their Savior; deliver them into a transforming relationship with You. I pray for any loved ones by name who do not know the Lord or have fallen away from You. I ask You to reveal Yourself to them as the awesome God that You are. I pray a hedge of protection around my family from all deception, temptation, and any plans of the enemy that would thwart the good plans God has for them.
Day 10, January 10 (6pm)
To serve God together
Psalm 92:1: It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High.
Psalm 100:2: Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Joshua 24:15: As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
The Christian life was never intended to be a solitary one. Jesus shared His life with twelve disciples and then taught them to share it with others. The early believers gathered together to break bread and share the living Word. What we do each week in church is an expression of shared belief in Jesus – His body, a community of faith that gains strength and courage through worship.
But a full and meaningful life of following Jesus is built on much more than one hour a week in church. It requires personal devotion and interdependency with others in prayer, study, fellowship, and praise. In other words, the best way to follow and serve Jesus is in community.
Modern families come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re widowed, single, divorced, or living in a blended family, God has a group for you, a place of intimate belonging. This cluster of believers is a smaller version of the church, or we could say the church is a larger expression of the family unit. However we view it, the purpose is to be a place for love, acceptance, prayer, and to celebrate the communion of Jesus among us.
Finding time to pray as a family beyond grace at meals is an important discipline. To share our hearts, burdens, and triumphs is important, as well as encouraging each other to stay strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:18). Prayer is as uncomplicated as talking to God together. Seeking time with a trusted brother or sister can move us from defeat to victory. Building the habit of worshiping together is critical to becoming the people God desires for us to become.
• Who is your family, your community of faith, other than the larger church you attend?
• How do you express love, acceptance, grace, and encouragement with them?
• What elements of prayer and worship are regularly missing from your time with them?
Great Father God, Jesus my Brother, Holy Spirit my Comforter… lead me into deeper communion and fellowship with You and with my community of faith. Begin with my own family to teach me to be bold to lead in worship and prayer, to bring the greatest glory to You, the only wise God, forever and ever.
Day 11, January 11 (6pm)
To be healed and reconciled
Psalm 107:20: He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.
Psalm 147:3: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Malachi 4:6: He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.
The Scripture says in Matthew 4:1, “Jesus was led up by the (Holy) Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” It was God the Holy Spirit that placed Jesus in that desert for that particular time. There are no mistakes in God’s plan. There is no plan B. We only know His complete plan for our lives as we look backward. A.W. Tozer said, “To the child of God, there is no such thing as an accident. Accidents may indeed appear to befall him and misfortune stalk his way; but these evils will be so in appearance only and will seem evil only because we cannot read the secret script of God’s hidden providence.”
Our whole perspective of life changes when we find ourselves facing overwhelming temptation, tragedy, or any hard situation that needs real healing or reconciliation. This happened to a Pastor friend of mine. His son and daughter-in-law, upon graduating from Bible school in Arlington, Texas, with a great ministry to the Mexican people before them, encountered some problems that provoked the son to think God did not really care for him, so he decided to quit the ministry. He was determined to separate himself from God. He stopped praying and reading scripture and instead began drinking and staying out at night, etc. But on his way to inform the missions director of his decision, the son came around a curve, just outside of New Orleans, Louisiana and a tractor trailer, trying to avoid hitting a deer as it crossed the highway, plowed into his car, causing him to go to the hospital. Now he really believed God did not love Him. But during the next six months, God brought him back to good health, but most importantly reconciled him back to Himself.
I have been there; we all have been there in one sense or another. The Lord occasionally does the same with all of us, testing our faith, leading us into hardship, teaching us wisdom, showing us His ways, changing our course on this journey called life, calling us back to Himself—in the process healing us spiritually and sometimes physically. Our first reaction is usually anger, panic, and a sense of ‘why is this happening to me if you love me so much, Lord?’ But remember that deeper secret of the Christian life: “When we are in a difficult place, the Lord has placed us there, for reasons known for now only to Himself.”
The writer, Mackintosh, in referring to the Israelites leaving Egypt comments, “the sea was before them, Pharaoh’s army behind them, and mountains around them. And in all this, be it observed, permitted and ordered of God.” We are where we are today because God permitted it. As someone has said, “Nothing gets to the child of God unless it passes through His Hands first.”
Sometimes, circumstances beyond our control can push us off the thin wire we walk on in this thing called life. It could be the ringing of a phone, a knock on the door, a text, an email. We fall immediately into worry and fear that separates us from God, from our friends, our spouses, etc. How can we not worry or fear when our outflow exceeds our income, when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, when layoffs occur at the company and our name is on the list, when our child is hurt or even killed, or our spouse wants to walk out. What is our hope? Where do we look for guidance in times like that?
We must pray to the One who has control over everything. We must ask Him to do what only He can do. And, we must consult the Scriptures for guidance and hope. Remember these men and women:
Hagar, a single mom, was forced into a desert with her boy where they nearly died of thirst. Joseph, desiring to be used of God, was seized, stripped, sold, and imprisoned in Egypt. David, anointed by Samuel, was pursued by Saul’s army. Most of the Lord’s disciples, who followed the Lord’s command to evangelize the world, died horrible deaths. The Lord Himself, fulfilling the Father’s will, was nailed on a cross until dead.
Peter wrote in I Peter 4:12, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you. . .” In other words, we should not be surprised when we find ourselves trapped in painful, frightening, difficult, or impossible situations. As a matter of fact, these things are to be expected in this venture of following Christ.
If we are in a time of trial, He is here. Remember we are here 1) By God’s ordering, 2) In His grip, 3) Under His training, 4) For His time. But over and above that, our precious eternal Lord is here--He is the One who has promised never to leave or forsake us, never to forget or abandon us. So if we find ourselves in a difficult spot of needing healing and reconciliation, against all evidence to the contrary, there’s no better place to be. Real Healing and Reconciliation occur when we recognize we are exactly where God wants us to be.
• Are you in a difficult place right now?
• How can you allow God to bring healing and reconciliation in His way and in His timing? Ask Him to give you spiritual eyes to see where He is working.
Father God, You know everything about me. You know the challenges and hope that I have. I pray that You would guide my prayers, thoughts, and actions. I pray that You would give me spiritual eyes to see You in my life and give me the desire and ability to respond in a way that pleases You. Teach me what You want me to learn and help me to grow closer to You each day.
Day 12, January 12 (6pm)
To receive a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit
Psalm 51:2: Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Psalm 51:7: Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Mark 2:22b: But new wine must be put into new wine skins.
It seems for many believers a major disconnect occurs between the heart and mind. That being said, a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit is greatly connected to our conscious awareness of His indwelling. John’s gospel states clearly the sending of the Holy Spirit, ‘the Comforter,’ for encounter not only with us but to dwell (live His life) in us. We must be aware of His presence more than our sin.
Romans 8:5: For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Jesus having become sin for us dealt the death blow to sin’s hold on us. Now the removal of the residue of sin’s power is no less than Christ’s promise to us.
Romans 6:11: Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There are many word pictures or descriptions of the Holy Spirit; one is water. Notice the request from Psalm 51 is for ‘another’ to wash, cleanse, and purify us. The very work of the Spirit invokes the idea of cleansing or purifying by literally being the ‘Living Water’ flowing in power from within. Also, Ephesians speaks of Christ and His bride “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.” The living water and living word are ever present to do their work; we simply must say “yes” to His will and way in us and through us!
The new wine skins spoken of in Mark can refer to fresh governing or new governing of our lives. When the new spiritual ‘mind-set’ being the awareness of Christ’s promise is fixed, fresh outpouring, ‘New Wine’ will follow. When new wine comes, ‘times of refreshing’ in the Spirit of the Lord will overcome and overtake us with breakthrough in all aspects of our lives and those we influence... as it did on the Day of Pentecost and throughout the book of Acts. Jesus started the church the way He wanted it; now He wants the church the way He started it! He wants us saturated with fresh outpouring!
• Do you need a fresh awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life?
• Will you ask Him to fill you to overflowing?
Lord, I pray for times of refreshing as Your Word and Holy Spirit’s presence cleanse and renew me. I pray that I will be spiritually-minded and that I will say yes to Your way and will through me. Thank you for Your faithfulness to me! I pray that my spiritual family will receive a fresh outpouring of Your Spirit!
Day 13, January 13 (6pm)
To be served by visionary leader
Psalm 78:24: He rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven.
Habakkuk 2:1: I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me.
Proverbs 29:18: Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.
The crowd was buzzing. The morning dew was burning off under the heating sun. Dogs barking, birds chirping, and the announcers giving instructions to the trainers to bring their racing greyhound dogs to the track in the appropriate gates. These dogs have been bred and trained since birth to do one thing, run after the lure (an artificial, mechanical bunny). They were made for this.
The gate opens! The dogs sprint! The crowd erupts! The announcers shout! But this race had an unexpected turn…
Part way through the race, the lure exploded! For a brief moment, the dogs continued to run, but eventually slowed down, not knowing what to do. Some ran around aimlessly, some ran back toward the gate where they began, and other dogs just laid down on the track pathetically with their tongues hanging out. There was no way to determine a winner, so the race was called off. The race was over.
So what caused the dogs to lose focus? Why couldn’t they continue the race? They lost their vision. Even though they had received the strictest training, they failed to achieve anything because they had nothing to aim for.
This story illustrates, in a simple way, the profound truth found in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This proverb takes on so many different applications to so many different settings. But let’s not mistake a ‘good plan’ as the complete thought here. A vision cannot be a ‘God given’ vision unless it is guided by... well... God. As Christians, we find our ultimate vision in the pages of God’s story, the Bible.
Vision is built. Not just by human effort and planning, but by seeking God through His Word and prayer.
• What dream is God revealing to you?
• Are you ready to train and chase after God’s vision for your life?
• Will you trust and pray for your church leaders?
Father, the giver of vision, help me to hear Your voice through Your Word. Mold and motivate me to chase Your vision for my life and the vision You have for Your Church. Answer the prayers of the leaders of this church; give them a clear and passionate vision. Help the vision to stick on the hearts and minds of this congregation - that we might win the race with You! Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Day 14, January 14 (6pm)
To be a habitation for God’s presence
Psalm 100:3: Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Psalm 95:7-8: For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. Today, if only you would hear His voice, “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness.”
1 Timothy 2:8: Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
Matthew 13:58: And He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Oh, how Matthew 13:58 breaks my heart because I so desire that God be active in my community! Therefore, I must pray.
Several times in scripture we see God looking for a person who will stand in the gap for a people, a nation, or the land. He desires to come with blessing, healing, and salvation and is looking for someone, or a group of someones, to agree with Him by paving the way for His coming in prayer.
The Biblical record reveals the Lord descended with His presence on Nineveh, Antioch, Ephesus, and Jerusalem as well as other cities. Today, we have documented reports of the same kind of Divine activity in over 1,000 communities in the past several years.
The thought resounds: why not here; why not now? It is possible because our heavenly Father wants to exalt His Son over our community. There is not a formula to accomplish this, but there are some things we should give ourselves to as we invite Him to come. Christian researchers have discovered all 1,000 communities that are experiencing God’s abiding presence have five things in common.
• Persevering spiritual leadership
• United efforts of prayer
• Social justice and reconciliation, compassion, evangelism
• Public Power Encounters
• Spiritual Mapping/Diagnostic Research: what’s going on in your community, what are the desperate needs?
So, let’s get to it! Find out who the spiritual leaders of our community are and pray for them regularly. Attend community-wide prayer events where Christians gather to pray for the community. Pray for social justice and compassion efforts to rise up and be successful. Join in public displays of your faith with other believers. Lastly, ask God to give wisdom about transforming the underlying issues in our community where powers and principalities derive their power.
• How will you play a role in bringing God’s presence to our community?
• In what areas can you play a leadership role in providing united efforts of prayer with Christ followers, fighting for social justice, or showing Christ’s compassion to our community?
Heavenly Father, I lift up my neighbors before You Lord, asking for Your presence to fill the atmosphere so that they will hear You speak and see You work in their lives. Right now I pray for all of my neighbors by name and I ask, God, that You will reveal Yourself to each one of them.
Day 15, January 15 (6pm)
To value integrity
1 Samuel 16:7b: The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
Proverbs 4:23: Above all else, guard your heart. For EVERYTHING you do flows from it.
Matthew 5:8: Blessed are the PURE in heart, for they will see God.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise? Whether a noise is heard or not, the fallen tree is dead, and there is now a hole in the forest. There is impact. It has been said integrity is what you do when no one is looking. Does it matter what you do when no one is looking? Do you think there is really an impact? How about with your relationship with God?
God looks at the heart. We cannot hide this from Him. The core of who we are, He knows. What we look at, think about, talk of, and act on is all made clear to our Creator. Integrity is from the heart.
Poor integrity does not protect the heart; rather, it tries to destroy it and disobeys God. Good integrity protects the heart, keeps it pure, heals, and ultimately obeys God.
Consistent poor integrity that disobeys God is defiance to God. It slowly builds a brick wall in between us and God until we can hardly hear Him at all. Poor integrity hinders our connection with God.
Good Integrity is not being perfect. It is humbling, repentant, and obedient to God even when no one is watching. Read more about private behavior in Matthew 6:5-6 and Matthew 25:31-46.
• Do you value integrity?
• Why does God choose to look at the heart of a person?
• How might God use your integrity to impact the people around you?
Father, I know you can see my thoughts and know them completely. I want to be obedient to you. Allow others to see that you change me from the inside out.
Day 16, January 16 (6pm)
To be cleansed of sin
Psalm 25:18: Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.
Nehemiah 1:6b, 8-9 (NIV): I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
In a meeting of diverse Christian leaders someone said, “the church in our city needs to repent.” One response to the statement was, “what do we need to repent for?” Then the individual asking the question went on to talk about all the good things the church in that city was doing and finished by trying to make the case that there was not a need for repentance and the seeking of forgiveness from God, but rather the favor of God was resting on the city.
1 John 1:8-10 says, “if we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
The scriptures reveal the sinfulness of cities such as Sodom, Gomorrah, Nineveh, and other cities too. Those that repented and turned to God were blessed and those that did not, well, some of them do not even exist anymore.
God loves to take a sinful city and turn it into a revival center. He did just that in Antioch, Ephesus, Jerusalem, Nineveh, and more recently in Cali Columbia, Fiji, Guatemala, Uganda, Brazil, and hopefully very soon in our own community.
How does it happen that an entire community or city repents to the extent that it gets God’s attention and a transformation begins to occur? It begins by individuals getting honest with God, confessing their sin, and crying out to Him for forgiveness and freedom.
The real question is not, can it happen in our community, but will you allow it to happen in you? Let’s be honest before God about those things in our heart. Confess our sins to Him and repent!
• Imagine what our community would look like if a true transformation occurred among Christ followers. What are some things that would look different?
• Will you pray for the revival to begin in you?
Holy God, I understand that a city or region cannot receive Your blessing if it is built on sin and bloodshed. That type of foundation causes the people to labor and gain nothing. Lord, we humbly ask Your mercy and for Your forgiveness to be poured out in the community we live in. Lord, at this time I also name the specific sins that I am aware of such as injustices or covenant breaking, and I repent of them. I ask that You use me in my community wherever you desire so that You are glorified and seen in our midst.
Day 17, January 17 (6pm)
To experience revival
Psalm 86:6: Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Psalm 80:18-19: Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
It is pointed out that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is addressed specifically to Israel. That is true. But surely the passage shows God’s heart for any people, any land.
What does God want from us? First, we must humble ourselves. We must admit that God is God and we are not. We must submit to God and come to Him in brokenness and repentance.
2 Chronicles 7:14: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Second, we must pray and seek God’s face. No revival or awakening comes without prayer. Extensive prayer. Fervent prayer. Corporate prayer. Continual prayer.
It is worth noting that the prayer here is focused on seeking God’s face and not God’s hand. We are seeking God for Himself and not for what He gives us. We are locked in on God’s glory, not on our need.
Third, we must turn from our wicked ways. God wants obedience, not religious ceremony. We cannot just say the words of repentance and pray the prayers of repentance. We must do the deeds of repentance and obey God in every part of life.
If we do these three things, then God promises to respond in three ways. First, He will hear us. He will hear those prayers. Second, He will forgive our sin. He will remove our sin as far as the east is from the west. And third, God will heal our land. He will pour out His favor and blessing upon us.
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln had just been elected President. The nation was tottering on the brink of war. There was cruel slavery in the land. The President faced widespread opposition and hostility. He issued a proclamation for our country, a proclamation which expresses the spirit of this passage.
“Whereas a joint committee of both houses of Congress has waited on the President of the United States and requested him to recommend a day of public humiliation, prayer and fasting to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnities, and the offering of fervent supplications to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these states, his blessing on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace. And whereas it is fit and becoming in all people at all times to acknowledge and revere the supreme government of God, to bow in humble submission to his chastisement, to confess and deplore their sins and transgression, in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to pray with all fervency and contrition for the pardon of their offenses and for a blessing upon their present and prospective action. Therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do appoint the last Thursday in September next as a day of humiliation, prayer and fasting, for all the people of the nation. And I do earnestly recommend to all the people, and especially to all ministers and teachers of religion of all denominations, and to all heads of families, to observe and keep that day, according to their several creeds and modes of worship, in all humility, and with all religious solemnity, to the end that the united prayer of the nation may ascend to the Throne of Grace, and bring down plentiful blessings upon our country.”
• During this time of prayer and fasting, have you humbled yourself before God?
• How will you continue having a humbled state before God when our 21 days of prayer and fasting end? Is there a practice you can commit to, such as kneeling before Him at the beginning of every day to recognize Who He is?
• How will you continue to pray and seek God’s face when our 21 days are over?
Father, I pray for a marketplace revival to sweep through our community and for revival to break out in Your streets, in schools, government, business, media, entertainment, and congregations – especially in Your congregations as we are reflecting who You are. I ask, Lord, that You raise up dedicated Christians who will become a voice to reform our region and to make a difference in the lives of all who live here.
Day 18, January 18 (6pm)
To uphold righteousness and justice
Psalm 89:14: Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.
Matthew 6:33: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
My stomach dropped into my shoes as my eyes grew big. I had just heard that there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in history. How can that be true? In the progressive post-abolition culture that we live in, how can there be over 27 million slaves worldwide? And how could there have been over 1,000 calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in the past four years from the state of Michigan? Surely slavery doesn’t happen here in West Michigan. But it does, and the reason is because there is heartbreaking injustice in the world.
As Christ followers, God makes it clear that we are to take a stand against injustice and fight for those who do not have the ability to fight for themselves. “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17 NIV) When I compare this command to the statistics of injustices like human trafficking, poverty, homelessness, domestic abuse, and so many others, I begin to feel helpless. How do we even begin to act justly when injustice seems to be taking over? Where do we start?
The best place that we can start is where many great Biblical leaders before us have started. With prayer. Look to the examples of men like Moses, Ezra, and Nehemiah who turned first to God and pleaded for His guidance and intervention. These men saw God change the attitudes of kings and rulers to move in ways that were beyond what they had imagined. The rulers of their day who were once set against God allowed a nation to be freed from slavery, a temple to be rebuilt by an exiled people, and a city wall to be built up in only 52 days. Each of these men were guided in their work by the One who has a passion for those under unjust oppression.
There is an overwhelming amount of work to be done to solve the injustices in our world today. So where do we begin to stem the tide of heartbreak? The best place, the only place to start, is on our knees asking God to give us His wisdom and discernment as we work to uphold justice in our circles of influence. Don’t hesitate to ask boldly for Him to move the hearts of those with greater influence as well – our leaders, politicians, and media. Our call is to uphold righteousness and justice in the world around us, but God, just like the leaders whose stories are recorded in the Bible, God does not leave us alone in that task.
• What injustices cause your heart to break?
• Where is God giving you influence to fight injustice?
Father God, Your Word shows that You care deeply for those that are suffering under injustice. Thank You for Your father heart that upholds the oppressed. I ask that You would be with our leaders and work through them as You have so many times throughout history. Give them a passion to establish just laws and the wise discernment they need to solve issues. Where there is a lack of passion, move in their hearts to create an urgency to uphold justice. Give me a fire to stand for those who are suffering all kinds of injustice. Show me how I can work to influence those around me, and move in my own community to show Your love and compassion. May Your Kingdom come even now!
Day 19, January 19 (6pm)
To experience God’s presence and power
Psalm 43:3-4: Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
I remember the first time I really felt the presence of God. Not those moments of ‘Jesus Chills’ where you know the Spirit is leading you on to something, but the first time there was weight and a person alongside, that Presence when the Holy Spirit wasn’t just prompting, but came down in force. It all happened when I was 17 and had just met up with the person I was dating at the time. We were living in separate towns over the summer, and our relationship wasn’t a good one. We were untrusting, bitter, and often vaguely angry at each other, so most times when we met; it was an opportunity to fight like cats and dogs. However, that day instead of the bitterness and anger I expected, I saw peace in her eyes. I saw a change; I saw someone with depth. We talked for two hours and then parted ways. While I was starting my old maroon Ford Tempo to go home, I muttered a quick but sincere prayer of, “God I don’t know what she has with You, but that’s what I need.” I then started to drive home.
And then it happened. It felt like something descended on my little car, and for the first time I knew peace. I felt so relieved, I laughed to myself and then I cried, realizing all the hurt I had done to others. I then realized that people who were laughing and crying should probably not be driving 60 mph down country roads, so I pulled the car over and prayed about what was happening. I talked to the Holy Spirit as He dwelt in my little Tempo… and life has never been the same.
• Have you met and encountered the Holy Spirit of God? When and where was that? What led up to that encounter?
• How are you different because of that moment? What has changed in and around you because of that?
• As we begin to draw our time of fasting to a close, where has God shown up?
God, I pray that Your Spirit comes down in real and powerful ways in my life. Come alongside me today and demonstrate who You are. Show me the power of Your radical love, show me who I am because of what You have done, and show me how that can impact those around me with Your will and love. Come alongside me in my interactions with others, in my conversations with You, and in how I treat my family and my friends. Be near to me, show me Your presence and Your power, and make m ere is no faith without You, and so I pray that You are present and vibrant in all that I think, say, and do.
Day 20, January 20 (6pm)
To be filled with God’s glory
Psalm 22:27-28: All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.
Habakkuk 2:14: For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
At a time when Israel was rebellious, immoral, and indifferent towards God, Moses prayed, “Lord, show me Your glory!” God was quick to respond to this prayer. And Moses saw with his own eyes a portion of the glory of God. But he also heard the voice of God declaring His glory:
God defined His glory by describing His nature. “I am the Lord, God! I am compassionate, merciful, loving and forgiving. And I am perfectly just and will not excuse the guilty.”
“Yahweh! The Lord God! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 34:6-7
So when we pray for God’s glory to come, we are praying for His nature to overwhelm our nature. We are seeking His nature to drive out the influence of sin nature, demonic nature, or any influence in a region or culture that is counter to Him.
This hour for us is not unlike the time when Moses prayed this great prayer. We, too, are at time when our nation and the world have never been so contentious with God. The name of Jesus stirs deep resentment in many people. Holiness is rare. Morality is in rapid decline. And the church of Jesus Christ is in a battle for its existence. In America, 3,500-4,000 churches a year close their doors. Churches lose 2.7 million people a year to nominalism or secularism. And 1,500 pastors a month are leaving the ministry. (Barna stats)
Moses could have prayed, “God meet our needs.” But this circumstance demanded so much more than “meet our needs.” He prayed, “Show me Your glory!”
We are in a desperate place today. We join our hearts in intercession to pray, “God, show us Your glory!” Overwhelm the numbness of our hearts with Your fire. Revive me with Your presence. Show Your glory in the church. Show us Your glory in America and all over the world.
“Father God, Show us Your Glory!”
• Will you begin to pray, “Lord, show us Your glory” so that the world will see and know Him?
• What does it look like to be the ‘salt and light’ in the work place, school, or neighborhood you live in?
Sovereign God, I pray that the believers in our community would be a city set on a hill and ‘salt and light’ to the world. I ask that we would influence other nations with righteousness. I pray You give me Your perspective on reaching this world with the Love of Jesus. Lord, instill in me a passion to join You in the mission of pursuing people to know You so that You are glorified among all nations and peoples. Lord, may I hunger and thirst after You and desire that for all people.
Day 21, January 21 (6pm)
To continue to seek God first
Psalm 9:10: Those who know your name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.
Jeremiah 29:13: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
1 Chronicles 29:13: Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God.
Colossians 3:2: Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
I remember when I first met my husband and was interested in him. I looked for opportunities to run into him. I deliberately sought out ways I could have a conversation with him. I was curious about him and wanted to learn more about him, and I confess that I chased after him. We laugh about it now because he was shyer than I was, and I was determined to get to know him. And it worked. We will be celebrating our 30th anniversary this year.
For the last 21 days, we have been chasing after God as we pray and fast. We have deliberately chosen to focus on Him and seek His presence. We have deliberately chosen to take time to read His Word and listen to His voice. For some of us, we can honestly say we didn’t really ‘hear’ from God in a profound way during this time. For others, this has been an amazing time of growth, and we have felt His guidance and direction about something we were seeking. Regardless of what we have learned through this time or if we have ‘cheated’ on something we were going to fast from, these past 21 days have been crucial to us because we have obeyed God’s command to seek His presence. It is always a beautiful thing when we chase after God and we put Him first because we desire to know Him more. And He promises us that when we seek Him, He will be found.
As we conclude our 21 days of prayer and fasting, it is important to ask, “Now what?” How can you remain committed to seeking Him? Very simply, decide to love God and seek Him. That’s right, decide. Look for opportunities to spend time with Him and to learn from Him. Daily. Decide to chase after Him and not the things of this life that quickly distract us from Him. Daily. Give Him your whole heart. Daily. Look for Him in each day, through people, circumstances, the Bible, and creation. Daily. It will take intention, effort, desire, and time. But it will be so worth it as your relationship with Him grows, develops, and you fall more and more in love with Him. Hebrews 11:6 says that God will reward those who earnestly seek Him. Will you continue to earnestly seek after the God of this universe who loves you completely and desires to walk with you daily? The reward will be great because God is great!
• How will you continue to pray daily and seek God through Scripture now that our 21 days of prayer and fasting are ending?
• Will you pray daily for a hunger and a thirst to chase after God and seek His presence?
• What will you commit to intentionally doing so that you are seeking God daily?
Father God, thank You for these last 21 days of focusing on You. Thank You for the promise that You will be found when I seek You. Thank you that You don’t hide from me but that You constantly draw me near to You. Please put a hunger and a thirst in my life for You Lord. You are so beautiful. So amazing. So forgiving. So good. And I am deciding to chase after You with all of my heart from this day on. Daily. Lord, may I put You first and seek Your face. Daily. I love you, Lord and I want to love and know You more. Amen.