Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pray & Fast This Fall

As we move into the month of September at The Orchard Church we are ramping up for fall.  Not only is fall a time of cooler temperature, brightly colored leaves and a more settled schedule (the summer months have a way of becoming especially chaotic) - it is also a time when we see families throughout our community seriously consider adding a 'spiritual component' to their calendar and so they begin to check out our church.

There's never a bad time to seek God and to call on Him in prayer asking for Him to do great things in our lives in our community and in our world.  But as we move into this new season, it is a great time for us to gather together as His church and cry out to Him with our needs and ask Him for a great harvest of souls.  That's just what we will be doing during the week of September 16-22, and I hope that you will be a part of it.

On Sunday, September 16 we will gather together for a great potluck meal at 5pm (so start thinking of the delicious dish that you are going to bring) and then after a meal together we will kick off the week with a time of prayer and worship together.

Then during that week we are asking that everyone in the church consider committing 1, 2 or perhaps more days to pray and fast, asking God to work in incredible ways in our midst this fall.

The week will wrap up on Saturday, September 22 with a prayer break-fast at 7:30am where we will again enjoy a meal and seek God together.

Prayer guides to help direct your time of dedicated prayer during that week will be available shortly.

I know that for some this may be uncharted territory.  You may be reading this and even wonder what "fasting" actually is - so here is a really brief primer.

"Fasting is a Christian's voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes." (Donald Whitney).  It is essentially setting aside food for a devoted time for prayer, using the time that you would ordinarily spend eating to be spent in prayer and allowing your physical hunger to prompt you to pray and to be satisfied as you turn in spiritual hunger to God.

We find people in the Bible fasting for many different reasons, but here are just a few:

  • ·         It prompted people to remember what God had done for them (Jer 36:6)
  • ·         It demonstrated that a person was humbling themselves before God (Psalm 35:13)
  • ·         It allowed a person an extended time of uninterrupted prayer (2 Sam 12:16)
  • ·         It was to seek God’s guidance (2 Chron 20:2-4)
  • ·         It was to express grief (1 Sam 31:11-13)
  • ·         It was to seek deliverance or protection (Ezra 8:21)
  • ·         It was to express repentance (1 Sam 7:6)
  • ·         It was to minister to the needs of others (Isa 58:6)
  • ·         It was to overcome temptation and to further dedicate themselves to God (Luke 4:1-2)
  • ·         It was to express love and worship to God (Luke 2:37)

So will you plan to be a part of this week? Mark September 16-22 on your calendar and join us for the meal and prayer time on the 16th and sign up to let us know that you will be a part of the fast too.

Still not sure - well let me challenge you with these words from Donald Whitney, "We will willingly miss meals sometimes while shopping, working, recreating, or otherwise occupied.  Whenever we believe another activity is at that moment more important, we will go without food fearlessly and without complaint.  We need to learn that there are times when it can be not only more important, but much more rewarding to feast on God than food (Matt 4:4).