Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fasting and Prayer

It's that time again. On January 8, 2011, my church will be starting our yearly 21 days of fasting and prayer. Last year was my first year participating in the fast and it ended up not being as hard as I thought it would be. Fasting isn't an easy task and it's not supposed to be. It's a purposeful sacrifice to draw closer to God and to detox from all the physical and spiritual junk we have filling our bodies and souls. Prayer and fasting truly works! I still remember hearing God's voice speak to me as clear as day driving home one day. He reminded me that "he (Ryan) will grow up." Totally freaked me out but that just shows the power and wonder in being obedient and spending some time denying our flesh and being in the presence of our Father.

There are plenty of scriptures in the Bible about fasting and prayer but the one that speaks to most to me is Matthew 17:17-21. It's the passage about Jesus casting the demon out of the little boy and His disciples wondered why they couldn't cast out the demon as well.

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.

Jesus was very clear that nothing is impossible but some things require fasting and prayer. Some desires and knowledge require us to draw closer to God so that we can be free from distractions and open to hear His voice. It gets harder to hear the response to prayers when we have distractions, sin, fleshly desires and all kind of other crap clogging up the filter we need to discern from God's voice and our own voice.

Prayer is always an important staple in our lives as Christians but if you're like me, most days I wonder if He even hears me. Yes, He has heard and come through on countless prayers, but sometimes I wonder if He really hears me. There are somethings that I am still waiting on some sort of response, denial, confirmation, signs and wonder, but to no avail. God on mute again. There are a lot of things on my prayer list right about now so this fast is right on time. I ran across this devotional in my Bible that made a light bulb go off in my head.

The book of Hebrew chapter 11 talks about great examples of faith. Hebrew 11:6 states that "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." I found the answer to my God on mute problem. I haven't always had faith that God will come through on the prayers that I send up to Him. Without faith, it's like my prayers fall on deaf ears. Makes perfect sense.

I have realized that I sometimes wonder if I am praying correctly. I know I don't sound anything like some of the more "seasoned prayer warriors" that I know but there is no format to follow. But there are some instructions that one must follow when it comes to prayer.

1. We must come in faith, believing that there is a God who will hear us and reward us. (Hebrew 11:6)

2. We must willingly let God examine our heart(Psalm 139:23-24), confess our sins (1 John 1:9) and then repent (Acts 3:19).

3. We can pray even if we feel that our faith is small (Matthew 17:20).

4. We must consider if there are any of our relationships that need mending. Then we need to go and try to make them right (Matthew 5:23-24)

5. We must come to prayer by asking in Jesus' name and for his sake. We can ask ourselves, Will the answer to this prayer honor Jesus' name? Will it glorify and extend the work of the Kingdom? (John 14:13).

This is going to be an interesting fasting and prayer season. This year is gearing up to be great and full of hope, promise, and purpose. I am looking forward to hearing instructions and direction from God, getting clarity on various areas of my life that needs a bit of fine tuning, etc. This is going to be a good year. Change starts now.

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