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Tuesday, 07 January 2020 00:17

Fasting and Praying

The goals for the fast are:

1.      That we are obedient to the commission that has been given to the church to go out into all the world and make disciples of all the nations.  Mark 16: 15

2.      That we actively invite the unsaved into our church so that by hearing the word of God they might come into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 1: 20, 21

3.      Protection from sin, Satan and the world.  Psalms 91

4.      That we might receive the peace that surpasses all understanding.  Philippians 4: 6,7       

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Why Are We Fasting and What Type  (Written 2019 by Pastor Stanley K. Evans)

We will be fasting for 21 days.  If you require medication for your health please, please, please take your medication and if you must take it with food take it with food.  Instead of abstaining from all food abstain from what you’re not to eat and eat what your doctor has told you to eat.  When Daniel fasted for 21 days he ate no meats, no breads, no sweets nor did he drink any wine.  For the 21 days of our fast I ask that you do the same. 

I would ask that you would exclude juices or soda unless it is a requirement for your health.  I would also ask that unlike Daniel that you wash your body and consume the occasional breath mint.  If you have not fasted before don’t beat yourself up if you break your fast.  Practice makes perfect.  Ask for forgiveness and keep on going.  

What is equally important during this fast is prayer.  It does us no good to afflict ourselves and not go to God our Father with the reason for our fast.

As a child of God I want to surrender these areas of my life: 

  • I want to be stronger in these areas of my life:
  • I want to be steadfast in these areas of my life:

How to Pray

A Format to Follow

In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus provides a format for us to follow.  In verse 9 Jesus says “In this manner, therefore, pray.”  Notice that Jesus says in this manner and not repeat after me for this is the formula or recipe.  Now there are many times that the word of God addresses perfectly my needs.  I encourage you to pray them, but the objective is not to speak it out of rote but to speak to God from your heart about what is on your heart.   

Verse 9 goes on to say Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Remember Jesus is speaking to men who are already believers and because they are already believers and are therefore children of God they can address God directly as their Father.  Yet, while we can directly address Him as Father remember he is the God of the Universe and resides where you cannot fathom (Heaven).  His name is Hallowed, that is it is holy and sacred, God is to be reverenced.

Verse 10 gives us the purpose of prayer “Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  The ultimate purpose of prayer is that God’s will be done.  It is through prayer that we seek the will of God.  The natural question becomes, “What is the will of God?”  The answer is the will of God is the Word of God (Jesus) in the word of God (bible). 

To know that the petition I place before my Father is in his will I have to know his will.  Prayer makes me search out in His word what He has already said regarding a matter.  And if I am unable to find what he has said regarding a matter then I need to pour out my heart to Him to receive guidance in the matter.

Verse 11 is a request that God make provision for us, “Give us this day our daily bread.” 

Verse 12 is a request that God pardon/forgive our sins, “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”

Verse 13 is a request for protection, “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Conducting Personal Devotion

The Church Covenant encourages every Baptist believer to maintain family and secret devotions.  I am asking that each of us pray when we would be eating.  What should our time of prayer look like?  I am glad that you asked.  That is why I like teaching you all you ask all the right questions.  What I love about being Baptist is that we teach one another every Sunday how to conduct devotion.  Devotion consists of three separate elements a song, a scripture, and a prayer.  During this fast I challenge you to have personal devotion 2 times a day and journal.    

Below are some suggestions that can help you in your bible study and devotional time.  These are suggestions by Mark Altrogge who is the Senior Pastor, of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA

  1. Pray

I usually spend a couple minutes praying before I read. I thank my Father for his love and the gift of sleep, and for protecting my family and me during the night. I also thank him for his gracious invitation for me to enter boldly into his presence through the merits and blood of Jesus. Then I often pray John Piper’s I-O-U’S: “Incline my heart to your testimonies,” “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law,” “Unite my heart to fear your name,” and “Satisfy me with your love.”

  1. Same time, same place every day.

Find your best time, when you can concentrate and have the least number of distractions. For me, it’s first thing in the morning. The house is quiet and no one else is up. If I start in on projects or reading the news, I never get to reading the Bible. In the evening I’m too distracted and tired. For some, evening is their best time. The important thing is to find a time when you are least distracted and can concentrate.

I read in the same place every day. As I said earlier, I keep my Bible, marker, journal and prayer notebook on the end table next to the couch in the den. That way I don’t have to waste time searching through the house for things before I read.

  1. Keep track of what you read

After reading, in the back of my journal I write the day, date, and the passage I read. That way I don’t have to try to remember where I left off the day before. You can use a bookmark as long as it doesn’t fall out and you lose your place.

  1. Write in your Bible

Don’t hesitate to underline, write in the margins, or circle words. Underlining and writing helps us concentrate more on what we’re reading. My favorite marker is a light blue Sanford China Marker. You can underline lightly or darker and it never bleeds through the page.

  1. Read consecutively

Don’t skip around or play Bible Roulette. Finish one book before going to another. One way to consistently read through the Bible is to read through Matthew, then Genesis. Then Mark, then Exodus and so on. If you are keeping track of what you’ve read, you’ll eventually work through the whole Bible. Nothing is more discouraging than picking up the Bible and reading at random every day.

  1. Use a journal

I’ve used journals for years in my devotions. I like Moleskine lined journals. As you read, write down any verses that stand out to you or any thoughts you have about the passage. Writing slows you down and helps you focus. I usually try to look for one key verse or passage that stands out to me from that day’s reading to record in my journal.

  1. Respond to what you’ve read

After recording one key verse or passage in my journal, I usually write a prayer in response. This prayer will sometimes be worship and praise to God for the truth I’ve just read about him or it may be supplication for him to change me to conform with his word. I keep the prayer to one, maybe two pages at the most. It takes me about ten minutes and propels me into my prayer time.

Whether you use these approaches or you have your own, try to build consistent habits of reading the Bible. There’s no better way to fellowship with Jesus and delight in him.

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