Fasting, Friendship, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 12: “Friendship”

Two are better than one,

    because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down,

    one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

    and has no one to help them up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

You’re more than halfway through the 21 days of prayer and fasting. You’re examining yourself more closely and you’re intentionally seeking God’s face in areas where you desire breakthrough.

Healthy friendships can spur you on towards progress in every area of your life. Subsequently, dysfunctional friendships can actually inhibit your spiritual growth with negativity, judgement, dysfunction, or strife. Your friends can help you grow to become all God wants you to be or they can bring you right down to your lowest point.

Friends matter to God. The Bible mentions friendship hundreds of times and uses stories like David and Jonathan to show you what true friendship looks like. Jesus himself was a “friend to sinners” and Paul and Silas had praying friends who brought heaven down in a prayer meeting so mighty, prison doors opened to set them free.

True friends stay loyal through good times and bad. They don’t gossip about you or betray your confidence. A true friend sticks closer than a brother. Do you have good friends you can count on when times are hard? Christian brothers and sisters who will pray with you, bring Godly perspective when you’re struggling and tell you the truth even when it hurts?

You might be longing for a dear ally right now. Someone who will sharpen you and understand you. Pain from past rejection might cause you to put walls up with friends so you don’t get hurt again. It’s a risk worth taking to put yourself out there for a mate. Although vulnerability is scary, it takes being a sincere friend to gain one.

Your friendship matters to someone today. If you’re not feeling like you are in a place of being able to offer what someone else needs, ask God to help you. Look at one thing you can do to be a buddy to a neighbour or someone at church. Then, just do it. Pray for your friends today. Ask God to meet them in the places they feel lonely and ashamed. You never know what prison walls might come down in your life and theirs!

*Read Proverbs 27:17 and ask yourself who in your life sharpens you. Do the majority of your friends make you feel closer to God and more like the “you” you want to be? Or, do they drain you and cause you pain? God wants you to surround yourself with those who will bring you closer to him.

Fasting, Grief, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 11: “Comfort in Grief”

Celebrate with those who celebrate, and weep with those who grieve. Live happily together in a spirit of harmony, and be as mindful of another’s worth as you are your own. Don’t live with a lofty mind-set, thinking you are too important to serve others, but be willing to do menial tasks and identify with those who are humble minded. Don’t be smug or even think for a moment that you know it all. Never hold a grudge or try to get even, but plan your life around the noblest way to benefit others. Do your best to live as everybody’s friend.

Romans 12:15-18 (TPT)

Grief leaves a gloomy haze across the horizon of your life. Deep sorrow and anguish envelops those who have experienced loss. Most commonly, you associate grief with the loss of a loved one in death but sorrow comes in many forms. The loss of a job or your health can bring grief. A physical change in location can cause sadness as you face the unknown future. Age and unmet expectations of yourself and what you thought you might accomplish by this stage of life can cause unbearable heartache. The death of a pet or the end of a season in parenting. The list goes on. If you aren’t careful, your whole life can take on a melancholy hue with the bereavement around you.

Where death and loss leave a cavernous hole in your heart, you are simultaneously opened up in a way that causes you to relate to the suffering of others with more intensity. This week, you’ve been learning about love and humility, thinking of others and praying for them too. Sometimes, the hole in your heart can only be filled with something heaven sent. The place that most needs filling can only be satiated with the hope that a relationship with Jesus Christ can bring.

There’s a part of you which grieves incessantly for that which you know will never come. This side of heaven, the whole earth groans with the pain of childbirth as you long for true deliverance. Jesus himself experienced the grief of betrayal from his friends. The anguish of going to the cross caused him tremendous heartache. Yet, without it, you wouldn’t have the hope of heaven, the glorious revelation of new beginnings and the power of resurrection life.

*Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 and thank God that he is the ultimate comforter. Seek him today for comfort in your own areas of pain and loss. Then, look outward and ask the Holy Spirit who in your world might need your comfort today. Anything you walk through can be used for the glory of God if you let it. Ring a friend or send a text to someone who is grieving.

divine appointments, Fasting, God Speaks, Inspiration, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 6: “Now You Know…”

Your mercy and your truth have married each other.

Your righteousness and peace have kissed.

Flowers of your faithfulness are blooming on the earth.

Righteousness shines down from the sky.

Yes, the Lord keeps raining down blessing after blessing,

and prosperity will drench the land with a bountiful harvest.

For deliverance and peace are his forerunners,

preparing a path for his steps.

Psalm 85:10-13 (TPT)

The status quo blinds you. Mundane routines are like blinkers on a horse, keeping your eyes straight ahead, only focussing on the immediate day to day finish lines. Work, chores, kids, laundry, meals, bills. You begin to expect what you’re used to but all that is changing.

Have you ever learnt something new and suddenly you started seeing it everywhere? This is called the “Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon” or “frequency illusion.” Has your awareness increased or is there a sudden uptick in the frequency of the information? Chances are, when it comes to your spirituality, what you now know was always there.

As a Christian who is intentionally seeking God in a deeper way through prayer and fasting, you’re taking off your blinders and changing up your daily routine. Everything has a brighter hue. Life is louder, more exciting.

What is right in front of you that you didn’t see before? A scripture you read or a sermon you heard brings forth a cognitive bias where you are now seeing Christ in all things. You are amazed at the beauty of a garden, the fresh smells and intricacy of the leaves on the plants. You’re reminded of God’s hand in all things because you’re recently aware of the detail he brings to your own life. 

You studied a passage of scripture about a widow with jars of oil (see yesterday’s post) and now you see oil on sale at Woolworth’s and overhear a conversation at school about cooking with coconut oil. You’re reminded of your own increased capacity even though grocery stores and recipes have nothing to do with it. God is using everything around you to speak to you!

You know the power of positive thinking and someone tells you about Dr Caroline Leaf. You scroll through Instagram and someone quotes a line from her book. You now notice it because you’ve had a recent revelation about positive mindsets.

You’re experiencing the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon with new concepts in unexpected places. Lean into them. Don’t chalk them up as coincidences. Rather, see God in all things. Realise he speaks to you through nature, other people, signs while you’re driving, anywhere.

God’s blessings are all around you.

* Be on the lookout today for one of the concepts you’ve read or thought about over the last week to come up again. This reinforcement of God’s word is like a healing balm over your life. You are experiencing a bountiful harvest of revelation and blessing from God. He wants to speak to you. Pay attention and journal anything you see that relates to what you’ve been learning.

Fasting, Inspiration, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 5: “Healthy Vessel”

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:5 (NIV)

You have spent the first several days reflecting inward. What does it mean to set aside time for prayer and fasting? What are you filling yourself with now that you’re creating more space for Jesus? You’re dreaming and thinking more intentionally. Your appetite is craving MORE of God and as you fill up your spiritual fuel tank, you will eventually begin to see an overflow. Those drained moments of quick-tempered distractedness will start to wain. You won’t find your wick being so short, lighting on fire with one more little annoyance (the straw that breaks the camel’s back, so to speak). No; instead, what has been flowing into your spirit will begin to show outwardly.

Start to self correct when the Holy Spirit brings to your attention anything out of alignment with him. Repent quickly if you find yourself gossiping, worrying, judging. These traits will become diminished as you continue to focus on inputting everything God has for you over these 21 days. You’re going to bring forth wisdom in situations in which you were formerly stumped. Your word of encouragement to a friend will be prophetic and timely. Your patience with your children is extended beyond its prior shrunken borders. Your capacity for dreaming and believing God’s promises has expanded.

As you form new habits, spend more time in prayer, and focus your attention on God, you widen the rim of your vessel. What you once saw as an enemy to your sanity is washed over with the oil of gladness that the Lord has poured into your spirit. You can’t help but laugh at how serious you took yourself last week. Now, you have a heavenly perspective and what’s in you is starting to flow outward. Keep going as this is just the beginning.

* Read 2 Kings 4:1-7 and envision yourself as one of the vessels of oil that the widow brought home. What more are you asking God to fill you with as you seek him? As long as you make room, he will continue to fill you.

Fasting, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Prayer, Series, Uncategorized

Day 3: “Noise Cancellation”

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

Matthew 6:6 (MSG)

Noise cancelling headphones are designed to block out ambient noise and other audible distractions. They help you focus on what you want to hear, a direct line with no distractions. You wear them when you want to disconnect from what’s happening around you. Children fighting, crowds laughing, you name it. In order to tune into what’s most important, you must disengage from everything else.

You’re on Day 3 and you’re starting to get into a better rhythm with God. You’ve severed from something in this fast, whether it’s food, television, social media. The goal is deeper connection with God, to hear him more readily because you’ve blocked out the surrounding milieu in favour of time spent with God.

You’re shifting the focus from crying out with your needs to breathing in God’s grace. No longer moving yourself along at a great rate of knots, you’re slowing down the pace. You’re re-training your ears to the tune of divine purpose and revelation. You’ve turned up the volume on positivity and truth, shutting out the lies and stresses of yesterday. You have given Jesus an all-access pass to your softened heart as you’ve pulled away some of the clutter and you’re becoming so tuned in that even his whisper can be heard now.

*Spend 15 minutes today sitting in silence before the Lord. Meditate on his word and practise the art of cancelling out the noise around you. Slow your breathing. Pay attention to your environment and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your soul.

Fasting, freedom, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 2: “Hungry?”

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

Galatians 5:16-18 (MSG)

Your palate is tuned into preferences based on its experience. Never had spicy food before? It’s probably too much to handle. Your mum never made you eat vegetables? Even the smell of green beans and Brussel sprouts makes you cringe. It’s the same in life: you hunger for what you know… you crave the familiar. Your mouth waters with expectation of the things that have brought you joy in the past.

You long for what you feast on in an endless cycle, like a hamster running on a wheel – one bit and and the wheel begins to turn; the voracity of your appetite keeps you moving, spinning; unknowingly, you’re limiting yourself to the familiar.

When you spend time fasting, you’re practising the art of saying “no” to the familiar. Changing up your routine, trying something new, relishing something outside the “box” of normality. You say “no” to what you desire so you can create a void for God to fill. You’re able to focus on something fresh – new perspectives, information, scripture.

Feeding your compulsions has become a habit you think you can’t live without. Comfortability, familiarity, ease. You’re ravenous for the satisfying warmth that comes with territory you’ve traveled. These three weeks of prayer and fasting are about shifting that status quo, rejecting what is easy. Challenging your time spent with something heartier, more complex. Denying your flesh that thing for which it longs in exchange for what at first seems yucky. In reality, selfishness is what leaves a sour taste once you’ve experienced the sweetness of freedom in Christ. Focus on hopping off the wheel today, your feet on solid ground, intentionally starving yourself of the familiar so you can focus on carving a new path this year.

*Take inventory today of what you feast on without even thinking about – is it your phone, certain friends and their input, thought processes, maybe even physical food that’s unhealthy for you. Decide what you will eliminate with a firm “no” in order to focus on saying “yes” to Jesus.

Fasting, Prayer, Series, Uncategorized

Day 1: “A Year of Possibilities”

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)

A blank calendar lies waiting be filled with school terms, holidays, dental appointments and work schedules. The new year represents a fresh start with re-calibrated goals and expectations. You can easily tumble into the year, tripping over yourself and all the hurdles you see based on last year’s performance. You can be swept up in the tide of old habits and conformity to those around you.

Or, you can grab 2020 by the reins, turn your face toward heaven and will yourself to look ahead with the lens of expectation and possibility rather than skepticism and unlikelihood.

Big companies hire consulting firms to help them think outside the box and see possible growth areas. Kids lie in bed at night dreaming of being NBA or YouTube stars with no inhibitions. You watch movies and read books where your imagination takes you to unknown places and you allow yourself to dream, escaping the reality of what is in exchange for a few minutes of what could be if you were someone else.

Walking with God means you have the chance to wake up everyday with the possibility of becoming the perfect God-designed version of yourself that was planned before the beginning of time.

Your heart’s desires and best laid plans are minute compared with what God has in store for you. It’s time to dream again: let yourself go! Ask God to show you what’s possible for this year if you walk by faith and not by sight. When you position yourself intentionally and focus on hearing the voice of God, you’ll suddenly see what was inconceivable; the hypothetical becomes viable. The difficult becomes a breeze when you’re swept up in the breath of God.

Let’s begin our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting seeking God for endless possibilities, soaking in the refreshing chill of being in over our heads. Rather than stifling your mind with “what ifs” and “how to’s,” allow your mind to wander in the wide open space of God-sized dreams.

*Spend time today journalling a list of what’s possible this year for your health, your finances, your family, your work or school. Allow the Holy Spirit to whisper his encouragement for heavenly possibilities as you start your 3 weeks of prayer and fasting.