More Than Just Rules
For the past 7 years, we have started the year off with a season of fasting and prayer. Each year we have fasted and prayed with a different focus…Fast, Pray, Serve – Fast, Pray, Worship – etc… This year we will be changing it up a bit and titling January’s sermon series as, Disciples, Fast & Pray, As we enter into, what I believe to be, a year of harvest, it is important for God’s people to understand these two most fundamental acts of the disciple.
I want to encourage you now to begin to prepare your heart before the Lord regarding fasting and prayer. Ask Him what He wants you to learn, journal each day while reading the Word and praying, talk with mentors about what they see as areas of growth for your life. I want to see us as a congregation grow up a bit in the area of fasting. This year we will not be encouraging abstaining from things, rather be focused on true fasts.
I and the pastors and elders believe that in order to face what the coming year has in store, we will need to be prepared. According to the Bible, these two elements are how we do this, when we pray we begin to recognize God’s Holy Spirit:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account, you will be brought before governors and kings
as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it.
At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
When we fast we make our flesh subject to our Spirit:
1 Corinthians 9:27
I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
If there remains in any of you even the slightest bit of legalism regarding prayer and fasting I encourage you to seek God to burn it up. When we see Jesus as who He really is, the desire to pray and fast will become to us as normal as the breaths we take.
…I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”
– C.S. Lewis