Day 12: Keep Asking!

From Jentzen Franklin:

Fasting without prayer is simply a diet.  Combining prayer with fasting raises the intensity, like pouring gas on a fire.  It’s a powerful mix.

God’s Word promises, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).  God invites us to seek Him.  Intimacy cannot be rushed.  It must be worked on day by day.  Jesus was frequently surrounded by large crowds of people, but He often withdrew to get alone with God and pray.  He knew that He needed to stay tapped into the Source of all things, and so do we.  Prayer and fasting were a big part of Jesus’ life. Why shouldn’t it be such a small part of ours?

There is both reward and wisdom to be found when we tune out the noise of the world and come away to hear God’s heart through fasting and prayer.  Spend extra time in prayer today.  Make a prayer list—a “hit list”—of people who are not saved, and pray over their names.  Pray for people that you know who are sick or struggling with family or financial issues.  Fasting is persistent prayer!

The Bible tells us that Jesus is our High Priest in Heaven who ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).  He’s been praying for you today.  Maybe you are having a tough day.  You’re hungry.  The devil has come against you as he often does on a fast.  He’s tempting you to give up, to just quit. Remember that when the devil is tempting you—Jesus is praying for you!

Keep asking! Keep seeking! Keep knocking!

Day 11: Stay The Course

You are over half way through!  Stay the course, and see it through to the finish line.

Paul said this about perseverance,

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
–1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Paul probably had a great interest in sporting events as he uses these sorts of analogies several times.  Athletics are noted for the training required, but in reality any endeavor requires focus, discipline, sacrifice, persistence, and a number of other character challenging choices.

The same is true of our walk with Jesus.  In order to receive the prize, to obtain the goal, we too must make choices that keep us on track.

Interestingly, Paul reflects on the potential to miss out on the prize by being disqualified. He didn’t say “lose” he said disqualified. Disqualification only happens when you don’t follow the prescribed rules and guidelines.  Only you can disqualify yourself, and likewise only you can make sure that you finish the course.

10 more days…I can do anything for 10 days.

I’m praying for you.

Day 10: Opening The Door

Abraham, the father of the faith, or better the father of faith, regularly took the opportunity to celebrate, mark, name, or commemorate significant moments in His life with God.  He built altars, assembled monuments, named places, negotiated treaties, made covenants, and pursued passionately the things of God. This heart for God that he possessed must have been what attracted the Father to him.  As I have said many times, God speaks the language of FAITH.

Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
–Galatians 3:7

As we continue fasting and praying, it is my confidence that this natural realm act, reaches into the spiritual realm and causes the Father to take notice.  You might ask, “then am I getting God to do something by my actions, am I earning His notice?”  No, I don’t think that’s the issue.  The vital aspect is that He hears words of faith; He smells the aroma a belief in the air.  Jesus, when his garment was touched by the woman with the issue of blood, remarked, “who touched me?”  In a like manner, your openness to pursue God reaches out and connects with our loving Father.

I’ve noticed and perhaps you have to, that it is the children who engage you that get your attention.  I used to wonder if my Grandpa liked the granddaughters more than the grandsons until I realized that they tended to be more tenacious in getting his attention.  Now, your heavenly Father is in no way limited as we are, but there is something about our pursuit of Him that is important in His response to us.

Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock, and if anyone opens up, I’ll come in and have fellowship with him.”

I believe that fasting and praying is rushing to the door, and opening it up so that He is invited to join us more completely in our life.

Day 9: I Press On

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
–Phil 3:12

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
–Hebrews 12:2

Jesus became man because He was desperate to communicate God’s love for each one of us, and provide a way of restoration in our relationship with the Father.  It required a focus on the joy that was before Him in order to endure the cross.

Paul says, “I press on” toward the prize.  That being the completion of salvation in his life.

If Jesus and Paul faced obstacles and difficulties, don’t be surprised if in your quest to draw closer to the Lord, you face challenges as well.  How did they overcome?  By keeping in focus the reward of pursuing God’s ways as opposed to their own desires.

Guess what?

Jesus would do it all over again for you if that were what was necessary to bring freedom and breakthrough in your life.  It isn’t, but He would.

God loves you just as you are, (fasting or not), but too much to leave you as you are!

Day 8: Are You Still In It?

Are you still in it?

“So the king of Israel answered and said, “Tell him, ‘Let not the one who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off.’”
–1 Kings 20:11

“Trash talking”, the exchange of players in games or between people in conflict, is nothing new. In this verse, we see the king of Israel respond to the verbal barbs of the enemy by indicating, ‘it’s easy to talk about fighting, but it’s another thing to go into and come out of battle.”

As you are now into week 2 of our fasting, I want to encourage you to keep your eye on the goal, finishing the 21 days.  I’ve always found starting a project sort of energizing, and completing a task very satisfying.   But right in the middle, what baseball players call July and August—the “dog days of summer”—have always seemed to be a matter of mind over matter, a moment by moment choice.  I know in my fast, I am experiencing body cravings for my normal food, but I am utilizing those moments as cues to seek God and remind myself of why this discipline is important.

Whatever the expression of your fast, let me encourage you to stick with it, to be the one who “takes off the armor”.

I’m still in it!

Day 7: Rise Again

Proverbs 24:16, For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.

One week into the New Year and our call to fasting and prayer, human nature and the patterns of our normal life bring pressure on your decision to change.  Sociologists sometimes refer to this as ‘homeostasis’ or the inclination of any process or system to return to its most familiar routine. Don’t be limited, go for breakthrough, for godly momentum in your life.

Let me encourage you in several areas today:
·     If you have forgotten to pray, overlooked your plan to fast, or just plain ‘caved in’, don’t worry about it and give up!  Instead, just recommit to your intended purpose and keep going.  You cannot do anything about yesterday; all you have is today to make a change in your life.  Remember, righteousness is not the absence of “falling” but the presence of “rising again”!
·     It takes 21 days to change a habit.  By day 22 you will be more likely to keep your new pattern than to revert to an old habit.  Press on!
·     The enemy does not want you to turn increased attention to our Lord, or to growing spiritually.  Stand against the forces of the enemy by putting on the armor of God, (Ephesians 6:12-14).

ALSO, as we pray and fast together, please send me any praise reports or prayer requests. I am excited to hear what God is doing in your life, saying in your spirit, and revealing to your enlightened eyes.  Our direct email is bobandsherry@thecause.cc.

Day 6: He is Amazing!

“…If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.”
2 Chronicles 7:14, 15

Today we have the opportunity and responsibility of interceding in prayer and fasting for those who either will not or cannot pray for themselves.  Our nation is so incredible in many ways, but obviously quite broken and ungodly in others.  Of particular offense to the Creator is the oppression of the poor, the obliteration of the unwanted unborn, immoral agendas of the selfish that ignore the well-being of our communities, the blind eye toward human trafficking, and more.

Focus in prayer not only for yourself but also for our communities, state, and country. Let’s repent for those who will not or cannot, and for the wickedness ignorantly embraced by our current culture.  Let us turn from walking a similar path, and commit to a righteous stance.  In so doing, we too beseech the Almighty to heal our lives and our land.

Note especially today, verse 15 indicating our Father’s willing response to sincere seeking of Him.  He is open, listening, and watching.

Simply said, “If we will, He will!”

Join me today as we humble ourselves, repent personally and corporately, and see God grace once again move among us.

He is AMAZING!

Day 5: Don't Lose Focus!

In Luke 4, Jesus was lead by the Holy Spirit to the wilderness and into an extended fast. We know that Jesus was about 30 years old, that he was by occupation a carpenter, but by vocation a “rabbi”. Traditionally, when a person was about 30, the title “rabbi” would be conveyed, and with it all the rights, responsibilities, and privileges. More than likely He had memorized huge sections of scripture from the time he was a very young boy having been trained in rabbinical schools throughout his life.  Part of that training would have included lessons on the importance and value of fasting.

The Holy Spirit had not previously descended on anybody like He did at Jesus’ baptism.  And with the Spirit’s leading, Jesus heads into a wilderness fast.

A couple aspects of Jesus’ wilderness fast seem poignant to me:
·     It was initiated by a visitation of the Spirit.
·     The Spirit led Jesus into a place of barrenness—the wilderness.
·     Jesus’ physical body went through tremendous discipline in order to accomplish such an extended fast (40 days).
·     The “tempter”, the devil himself, confronted Jesus.
·     Jesus had the power of the Word on his lips to defeat the enemy.
·     Most significantly, at the conclusion of the fast, Luke 4 says that Jesus returned to a new dimension of His life and ministry “in the power of the Holy Spirit…” Luke 4:14.

As the Spirit instructed you to join this fast, be aware that it will challenge your body, it will require mental discipline, expect natural discomfort and spiritual challenges, and anticipate a new fullness of the Spirit in your life.

My prayer for you today is that you don’t lose focus, and that your passion for God deepens.

Day 4: From Jentzen Franklin

Here’s a great devotional from Jentzen Franklin.

“I wish I could tell you that fasting and praying makes everything go smoothly in your life. The truth is, sometimes a fast will stir up all kinds of storms.  So, if you are going through a storm during this fast, don’t be surprised—but be encouraged.

Storms are transitional. In other words, storms tend to occur when you are on your way from one place to another.  Jesus was on His way across the Sea of Galilee when a bad storm came up. The storm was so fierce that the disciples on the boat with the Lord thought the boat was about to capsize and they would all be drowned.  But Jesus was asleep during the whole thing.  When they woke Him, Jesus commanded the storm to be still and all was calm (Matthew 8:23-27).

On another occasion, the Bible tells us that Jesus went for a walk across the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee to catch up with the disciples who were already halfway to the other side in their boat (John 6:16-21).

Storms did not hinder Jesus or cause Him to turn back.  Storms did not alter His course or His purpose.  He still has authority over the storms and speaks peace to the storms of life.  Jesus, our peace speaker, has given us His peace.  He is Jehovah Shalom, the Lord our Peace.

Are you experiencing storms in this life that shake your faith?  Meditate on His Name:  Jehovah Shalom, the Lord of Peace.

Spending time in fasting and prayer—regardless of our circumstances—will help you to be rooted and grounded in your faith, ready to weather any storm of the economy, your health, your family or your job.  God can cause you to flourish even during transition.”

Whatever storms may be raging in your life, my prayer for you during this fast is that you would take hold of that peace of God in a fresh and powerful way.

Day 3: Why 21 Days?

Why 21 days?

The popular 21 day fast that we are embracing has its roots in Daniel’s life.

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.  –Daniel 10:2-3.

In the first chapter of Daniel, we see him and of his 3 friends requesting approval for a special diet which did not violate their Jewish convictions.   The result was that after 10 days the young Hebrews looked healthier and performed better than their counterparts.

Daniel understood the spiritual realm as well as any of our biblical heroes.  He knew that God would be glorified in any and all situations as long as he dialed into His presence.  Jesus clarified this principle when He said, “…seek first His kingdom, and all these things shall be added to you…”

Fasting, when accompanied by passionate prayer, positions your spirit to hear from God more naturally and accurately than merely routine activities.  It is this fact that has purposed us in this invitation to charge into 2012 with fasting and prayer.

I am praying for you, that these 3 weeks will result in you experiencing your Lord in a more full and fruitful manner than you can imagine.

God loves you, and He likes you!