Eat less. Exercise more. That’s how you lose weight. Spend less, save more. Have a nest egg for retirement. Doing things with purpose means accomplishing your goals. Your time of prayer and fasting was calculated. You were intentional in your sacrifice. You spent time praying specifically over these last three weeks.
Considered meditation on the things near to your heart has brought you closer to Jesus.
Let the rest of 2018 be a continuation of the progress you have made. Keep putting into practise what you have begun. Let the nourishment you have received for your spirit propel you forward and become the floor for your next layer of growth. Exercise your spiritual muscles by concentrating on what you’ve learnt.
Don’t fall into neglect, rather launch yourself into everything God has for you.
You’re just getting started!
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practise what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies” (Philippians 4:8-9).
Our world is groaning with the sufferings of war. Entire nations are collapsing under corrupt leadership; millions of children starve while we gorge ourselves, gluttonous. Oppression – a word to describe the weight under which some women still live. Natural disasters ravish entire communities and many will never recover.
The list goes on.
If you were born in a first world country with paid work, unlimited food at your fingertips and emergency services just a phone call away, you might find it easy to look past the rest of the world’s problems. Yours is shiny and safe.
People facing economic hardship, fewer opportunities and less freedom are equally loved your Heavenly Father. Remember the less fortunate. Ask Jesus to show up in their lives.
As you continue to fast, pray for peace in the world where it’s absent. Lift up the nations both near and far. Pray for their leaders. And thank God for your many blessings.
“God holds the high centre, he sees and sets the world’s mess right. He decides what is right for us earthlings, gives people their just deserts God’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked” (Psalm 9:7-10 MSG).
You’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).
For most of you, your work is a major part of your day. Sadly, more than half of Aussies hate their jobs but you do it for the pay check. You have difficult colleagues and supervisors. You travel and miss time with your families. You don’t earn as much as you think you’re worth. You haven’t received a raise. You might own your own business and the constant weight feels like chains around your wrists. You may be juggling more than one job; you’re under a lot of pressure.
Whatever your situation, it’s important to have a proper perspective around your work.
Spend time praying God will guide you to the job he has for you in this season. Talk to the Lord about the hard parts and thank him for the easy ones. Ask Jesus to show you what you’re supposed to be learning each day at work.
Pray for your boss. Pray for your co-workers. See your workplace as a ministry opportunity every time you go there… you represent Christ and can impact his Kingdom through whatever earns you a living.
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:9-11 NIV).
Fasting can look like different things for different people. Ultimately, you give up something (food, social media, sugar, coffee, alcohol) in order to fill yourself intentionally with more of God. You seek him in your hunger pangs, believing he will satisfy. You position yourself to hear from him instead of hearing the noise of your normal habits (like checking Facebook or reading news). You die to something you love, trusting God will breathe new life somewhere else. In that, you test yourself and your strength. You find out what you’re made of. Jesus shows up. You know him better. You hear his voice more clearly. You work out what you can live without and find out how sweet his presence is – better than Tim Tams and caffeine.
Breakthrough comes in your prayer life as you lean into the Holy Spirit for wisdom. Yielding your fleshly desires to seek whatever it is God has for you brings clarity of mind and spirit. Everything feels heightened when you’re physically weak. Your soul is in alignment when you waive your rights to your normal indulgences. You see Christ in everything when you surrender. The end of YOU is the beginning of HIM.
Consider the Apostle Paul’s words:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11)
Who prays continually, really? Monks in a monastery? Nuns in a convent? People without kids? Early risers? Is this the expectation of a Christian during a time of prayer and fasting? Seriously, there’s work to do. Distractions. The mind races and praying for more than five minutes can bring on sleep for some. So, praying without ceasing seems a bit far-fetched…
What if prayer didn’t look like kneeling with your head bowed and lacing your fingers with your eyes closed?
What if you just start your day by asking God to be with you and for the Holy Spirit to remind you of his presence as you move ahead, intentionally mindful that he is listening? Every time you feel stressed or anxious, why not take a deep breath and meditate on the fact that your creator is right beside you, gently leaning in with a whisper of hope for your temporary need?
Talk to Jesus while you hang out your washing.
While driving to work, thank God for loving you.
Ask your Heavenly Father to guide your decisions and be honest with him when you’re not okay. Think about him and ponder his ways while you walk the dog.
Your never-ending need will never be too much for a God who never sleeps. Place him at the forefront of your mind and heart throughout the next 20 days. You’ll be praying, continually.
May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it! 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 MSG
After all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, do you feel like you need to re-calibrate yourself? Like everything is just a little out of alignment… the housework, routines, your midsection, or even your bank account? What about your spiritual life? Are you longing for a word from God for the new year? Maybe it’s a rejuvenation of your spirit and a reminder that God is near and present, loving you just the same even if you’ve neglected time with him over the past month.
Spending 21 Days in Prayer and Fasting is a way of drawing near to God once again, saying out loud, “I need you, Lord.” It’s a focus on spending time with him, sacrificing something in order to make way for more of his presence and peace. You’re taking the first portion of 2018 to lean in and hear God’s voice, praying for breakthrough, seeking him intentionally.
Let these daily devotions be a catalyst for your personal prayer time, journaling, singing, and/or quiet meditation. Join me on a journey to lift high the name of Jesus and expectantly await what he has for us this year.
But all who are hunting for you—
oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you’re all about
tell the world you’re great and not quitting.
And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing:
make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—
but God, don’t put it off. Psalm 40:16-17 (MSG)