As we enter a new year, we as a church family must ground ourselves in spiritual disciplines deeply rooted in Scripture. From January 2nd to 8th, we dedicate a week to praying and fasting, an opportunity to abide in Jesus. Building on our experience from last year, let’s view this time as an occasion to deepen our relationship with Christ. Our focus remains steadfast, setting apart this time to grow in our love and affection for Him. This year, let’s continue to abide in Jesus by reading and meditating on the scriptures daily, seeking God’s guidance and wisdom in applying His Word.
Understanding Fasting and Prayer
a) A Biblical Discipline: Our first day’s reading in the prayer guide, Mark 2:18-20, provides a foundational understanding of fasting. Jesus speaks of fasting in terms of His absence, portraying it as a longing for His presence. It’s a discipline reflecting our deep yearning for Christ and His kingdom, reminding us that our ultimate fulfillment comes from God alone, not earthly sustenance.
b) Spiritual Renewal and Dependence on God: Fasting is a voluntary act of humility and dependence on God. It’s a physical expression of a spiritual reality – our utter need for God above all else. In denying ourselves physical nourishment, we seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit and His Word. It is not about earning favor with God but about drawing nearer to Him.
- Fasting Together as a Church Family: While fasting is often personal, doing so as a church body reflects the unity of the body of Christ. Each member’s participation contributes to our collective spiritual health and mission. Let’s encourage and support one another in this journey, especially within our small groups, and fostering accountability.
- Prayer: Prayer is our communing with God – a way to align our will with His, to intercede for one another and our world, and to grow in our understanding of Him. It’s both a privilege and a responsibility that shapes our lives and actions.
Practical Tips for Engaging in Fasting and Praying
- Setting Intentions: Begin by setting clear intentions for your time of fasting and prayer. What are you seeking God for? Is it guidance, spiritual growth, intercession for specific issues, or something else?
- Choosing Your Fast: There are various ways to fast – from a complete fast, from morning to evening, or a partial fast, skipping a meal to abstaining from certain foods or activities. Choose what leads you to best focus on God, considering your health and circumstances.
- Daily Scripture Reflection: Engage deeply with the daily scripture readings, allowing them to speak into your life and guide your prayers. Reflect on how each passage relates to your personal walk and our collective journey as a church.
- Journaling: Keep a journal during this week to write down your prayers, reflections, and any insights from studying God’s Word. This can be a valuable resource for future reflection and encouragement.
- Engage with Daily Prayer Points: Each day has specific prayer points, guiding you to pray the Scripture for one another and others.
This week is not an event on our church calendar; it’s a spiritual journey. We open our hearts to God’s transformative work by focusing on prayer and fasting. Let’s approach it with hearts open to transformation and renewal, ready to be shaped by God’s gracious hand.