Day 4: “Peace. Not Fear.”

Photo: Evgeniy Stepanets

Fear, keeping your kids awake at night, as they imagine what may be lurking under their beds. The panic of checking the lap belt one last time before the roller coaster drops sending butterflies through your stomach. Distress, when your teenager isn’t home and curfew was an hour ago. Nightmares, panic, anxiety, dread.

Fear can surely rob you of peace.

It can creep in slowly or it can jump on you like a small child in the pool. Beating you over the head, splashing you in the face, blinding you and making you dizzy.

Angst and worry can be a natural response to rattling circumstances. Remember the shepherds keeping watch over the flocks by night who were visited by an angel appearing out of nowhere? They were terrified. The angel told the shepherds not to be afraid for on that very day, the Messiah would be born.

Jesus: the antidote to fear.

Our Saviour didn’t come to earth as a mighty warrior, ready to fend off evil with a sword and shield. That might make more sense if bravery and comfort were the promise. No one is afraid if Sir William Wallace is in charge.

However, God sent down the Saviour of the world in the form of a helpless newborn baby, born in a manger, in less than stable times. Those shepherds, Joseph and Mary, and others in attendance found peace in the person of Jesus. He represented hope, a long-awaited promise fulfilled. This vulnerable baby boy brought peace to a foreboding situation.

Are you facing something unbearably scary? Are you entertaining vain imaginations of times yet to come which cause you to tense up, lose sleep, or lash out? You have the promise of peace in the midst of your fear.

Your days may never be absent of fear; rather, you must acknowledge God’s present help in your time of need. “Fear not” doesn’t mean “never feel fear.” It means, when you’re feeling afraid, look to the one who brings peace.

Allow his presence and promise to meet you in your angst. Picture his endless love washing over you despite what you’ve done. Remember that he owns the cattle on a thousand hills and his provision is endless to meet your needs. Jesus, and his infinite wisdom as the one who knows the beginning from the end, will guide you into perfect peace; your future is secure.

As you pray today, imagine God’s face shining upon you and your situation, reminding you of his ability to fend off the demons which haunt you. His gentle spirit packs a mighty punch and no weapon, whether seen or imagined, has any hold on you. Allow your concerns to be swept away by hands of hope. Breathe slowly. Allow Jesus to pacify you moment by moment.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
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Day 2: “The Right Road”

photo: wagabunda.club

Seeking God through a concentrated time of prayer and fasting means something different to each person. You may feel weary from circling around the same mountain and you want to see different terrain this year. Perhaps your spiritual walk feels sluggish and stale; you know the onus is on YOU to pick up the pace, focussing on Jesus more in order to break some bad habits or to hear his still, small voice again.

You might be seeking breakthrough in a specific area for yourself:

Overcoming an addiction

Physical healing

Reconciliation in a relationship.

Or, you’re praying and believing for someone else… A family member who needs a miracle.

Your path is covered in thorny bushes and roadblocks; progressing seems impossible. You feel out of breath at the thought of going higher. Your spiritual muscles are squishy and you think you’re not cut out for the heavy lifting required by a life of authentic faith.

Whatever your reason for embarking on this journey, it’s a good one. You have identified some stalemate in your life and you wish to overcome it, to stretch yourself and dive into deeper waters with your God. You have an intrinsic motivation driving you, compelling you to look ahead rather than behind. You are pioneering afresh, taking back ground which you might have thought was forever stolen from you.

Today, equip yourself for battle. Your armour is your faith. Your weapons are the truth you hold within the Word of God. Your salvation is secure and your Saviour is petitioning on your behalf as you align your will with his.

Step out in faith and you will hear what God wants to say… a personal road map of whispers, guiding you along your narrow trail of difficulty. Everyone is navigating treacherous waters. It’s a lie to believe you’re alone. Nothing you face on your road to victory is new to the One who carved your path.

Envision yourself today, saddled up alongside a brave hero who can conquer anything. Let Jesus take the reigns. Let go of the control you falsely believe is giving you success. Your peace isn’t found in seeing others do what you want, how you want it done. Clarity doesn’t come by more money landing in your account. Harmony doesn’t make its way to you through mowing down the next mile marker at breakneck speed.

You’ll never arrive at the perfect destination this side of heaven. So, begin the practise of leaning into the shadow of the Almighty’s wing. Let him take you 30k feet above the turbulence below. Your circumstance doesn’t have to change for you to see today differently. You’re en route and your help is near.

“The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.”

Psalm 19:7-9

Day 16: “Pray for Your City”

cityYou’re approaching the end of your three weeks of prayer and fasting and your prayer life has intensified. You are freer than you were a few weeks ago and you’re looking beyond your own needs and asking God to work in your family, your workplace, your church and your neighbourhood.

You actually have the ability to change your entire city. A small group of disciples who walked with Jesus a couple of centuries ago sure did! They carried a message of hope to their cities; subsequently, much of the Western world built its culture on Judeo-Christian values. Imagine you and your group of friends from church who have a passion for your community changing and influencing your city. You CAN!

Why don’t you take some time today and pray for your city? Love your suburb. Lift up its leaders and ask God to bless them and guide them. Believe God will open doors of influence and opportunity for you to speak into the lives of your city councilmen and women and elected officials. You have a voice in your community.

Over time, your care and influence will impact those around you and spill over into every area of your community. Through loving it well, you can affect change.

“Seek peace and well-being for the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace (well-being) you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7 AMP).

Day 10: “Your Kingdom Come”

thy kingdom comeWhat did Jesus mean by saying, “Thy Kingdom Come?” while teaching his disciples how to pray? God’s plans, not mine. His intentions, not yours. Undertaking the Lord’s strategy before our own.

Total surrender to the will of God is easier said than done. Dying to your fleshly desires – submitting your goals, money, children, health to a Heavenly Father comes with resistance.

Your inward focus over the last week and a half has allowed you to hear God with more clarity, to tune into the Holy Spirit, to find freedom in areas where you struggle. Hopefully, you’re learning to yield to his voice in a more meaningful way.

However, if your biggest obstacle is yourself (your problems, insecurities, fears), then understanding “thy kingdom come” as it relates to others, will prove difficult. Ask God, “why have you put me in this spot at this time with these people?”

It’s time to begin looking outward. How can your own personal revelation benefit someone else in your world?

“God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19).

Sharing the love of Christ looks different for everyone. You may give time to a friend who needs a listening ear. Or, make a meal and cart kids around for a mate stuck at home with an injury or a newborn. You might go out of your way to help your co-worker.

Encourage someone.

Extend forgiveness.

Whatever God is asking you to do, go for it! Pray for opportunities. Step out in faith.

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
 as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13).

Day 8: “Pursue Freedom.”

freeWeek 2 of the fast hopefully finds you more rested, clear-headed and at peace. Pursuing freedom is a lifelong journey, not to be oversimplified here. However, you have hopefully identified some blockages in your life which rob you of your peace and inhibit your ability to receive God’s gift of rest.

The Holy Spirit wants to rid your life of shame, guilt, un-forgiveness, offense, anger and strife… whatever torments you or holds you back.

Today, meditate on this:

“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:3-5 MSG)!

Allow the Holy Spirit to flood your life with more of his Word, an abundance of  love, additional blessings. Let your heart overflow today with worship and thanksgiving. When you see your troubles developing passionate patience in you, you can even count them as benefits. Divulge your secrets to your God. Declare victory over your past.

As you speak these things out loud in your prayer time, you’re pioneering your path to freedom.

Day 8: “Deep Waters”

deep-watersHave you ever been “in over your head?” Overextended? Gained more than you bargained for and you’re not happy about it? You’re overwhelmed or you feel you’re drowning.

That’s never a good place. But plunging head first into the living waters of a life with Christ is the best place you could ever find yourself. Once you find courage to step beyond the shore, it’s the start of trusting him and the end of self-reliance.

Ezekiel 47 describes water flowing from the Temple that is first ankle-deep, then waist deep, then so deep, it’s over your head. In this vision, everywhere the water flows, there is life in abundance. Great schools of fish, magnificent trees bearing fruit for food and leaves for healing.

The water flowed shallowly from the temple, but the benefits weren’t seen until the water turned into a great river, one much too vast to remain grounded. To benefit from everything it had to offer, you’d have to be in “over your head.”

Diving with God takes courage. Maybe you were merely wading during the first week of this fast. Were you giving it a trial run to test the temperature, skeptical of any true benefits?

Can you go deeper this week?

Is there an area of your life in which you desperately need answers or breakthrough?  Be knocked off your feet. Once you’re completely submerged, it doesn’t matter if you are one metre from standing on the bottom or ten. You’re in over your head.

The only thing you can do is let Christ sustain you. You will eat from his fruitfulness. You will be healed in his presence. Your God will be with you in the deep.

Day 6: “Seek God’s Approval.”

win-approvalSeeking to please God by righteous living is a worthy endeavour. Obeying his Word, exhibiting the fruit of the spirit, and working out your salvation are all Biblical notions.

Sometimes, this effort is misguided; instead, you spend your time working to please others. Your Christian walk becomes about saying what you think you SHOULD say and acting in a way that will impress others. You think you must have the answer that will sit well with everyone rather than your own opinion that might be different to the crowd.

When you’re feeling a desire to be noticed, affirmed, or approved of by your friends, co-workers, bosses, leaders, or even your social media followers, stop and ask yourself, “Why?” What do you gain from their attention and accolades?

As you pursue God more intimately, let HIM fulfil every need within you. May God’s truth match his grace as you line up your achievements and see that when you fall short, he loves you the same. Remind yourself that you’re created in his image and he is cheering you on even when others aren’t. He wants you to “win” and “winning” doesn’t mean perfection.

“Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave” (The Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:10).