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Prayer & Fasting | March 11-15, 2019

If I were to stand on a street corner and ask, “What comes to mind when you hear the word fast?”, most people would say something about the pace of life these days – it is fast, probably too fast. They would talk about the word “fast” as an adverb of speed and not a verb of abstinence. Curiously, there’s a common root for both connotations of the word.

“Going fast” – traveling or working fast, or having a fast connection to the internet – that kind of fast comes from the same word as “fasting,” in the sense of abstaining from food. Our English word “fast” comes from the Old English fæsten, which denoted “firm,” such as “to hold fast” to some decision or principle. We also may talk about “a long, fast friend,” meaning someone who has been a secure friend, someone who has been tight with you – a steadfast friend. This word “fast” came to be a verb, applied to the abstinence of food, because of one’s “holding fast to a particular observance,” which was a firm resolve. That’s how the scriptures speak of fasting: more an affirmation of resolve rather than a renunciation of some desire.

Jesus talks about fasting in the Sermon on the Mount when He teaches about giving and praying. Jesus presumes we do all 3: pray, give, fast. In Matthew’s gospel, we hear Jesus saying, “When you fast …” Not “If,” but “When you fast …” He makes the assumption that people would hold to the practice of fasting, since fasting was a common practice in His day; they simply needed instruction on how to do it properly.

We’re inviting each person into a time of prayer and fasting, with various options to suit your personal circumstances. We’re inviting you to hold fast to Jesus and seek His face because we are resolved that nothing matters more.

“Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. Bring the leaders and all the people of the land into the Temple of the Lord your God, and cry out to Him there.” – Joel 1:14 NLT

What is Fasting | What to Expect | Daily Prayer Guide | Next Steps

 

What is Fasting?

Fasting in its simplest definition is understood as “voluntary abstinence from food or drink, especially as a religious duty.” As followers of Jesus, the purpose of all spiritual disciplines, including fasting, is to help us to become more like Jesus. We follow in His footsteps. Fasting helps us – personally and corporately – become aware of how God desires to work in us and through us.

We should never be motivated by the idea that our fasting will move God to do what we want; we cannot manipulate God. The purpose of our fasting is to draw us closer to God and to seek His will for our lives.

“One of the greatest spiritual benefits of fasting is becoming more attentive to God – becoming more aware of our own inadequacies and His adequacy, our own contingencies and His self-sufficiency –  and listening to what He wants us to be and do.” E.L. Towns

In the book of Esther, the Jews were on the verge of destruction because of Haman, one of the king’s advisors. Haman was filled with anger against a Jew named Mordecai because he didn’t bow or worship him. Haman looked for a way to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.

Mordecai knew he was in trouble so he sought help from Queen Esther, who was his niece. Now, for Queen Esther to approach the king for help without being summoned first was very dangerous – she would literally be risking her life. So Esther called a fast.

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:15-16 NIV)

Those 3 days of prayer and fasting changed history forever.

This is her moment. Esther goes to see the king, knowing she is quite possibly walking to her death. However, because Esther approached the king on behalf of her people, they would became a nation not of defeat but of favour and rescue.

When God’s people fast with proper motive – seeking His will – and with a humble and repentant spirit, amazing things happen.

This is our moment. We’re going to pray and fast as a church community. We’re going to seek God’s will for our lives, our church, our communities, our country, and our world.

Deciding How Long to Fast

Choose either a 1-, 3-, or 5-day fast from food Monday, March 11-Friday, March 15. You may fast for as long as you like; however, use wisdom and pray for guidance. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you when making this decision.

Beginners are advised to start slowly. Keep yourself hydrated at all times. Drink plenty of water and juices. Remember to replace your time of eating with prayer and reflecting on the Word. We’ve provided 5 days of guided prayer and Scripture for everyone to lean into together as a community, regardless of how long you choose to fast. If you’re unable to fast, still join us in praying!

Important Words of Caution

  • Please consult your family physician before attempting to fast if you have a physical condition that’s affected by your food intake, have any type of chronic illness, and/or are taking any kind of prescription medications. If you’re unsure whether you should participate for any reason, please consult your family physician.
  • Infants and small children should not fast. Older children who can understand fasting can participate by choosing a food they usually have each day and giving that up during the fast. The important thing is to explain that we’re giving up something for the purpose of focusing on God.

What is Fasting | What to Expect | Daily Prayer Guide | Next Steps

What to Expect

When we fast our body detoxifies, eliminating toxins from our system. This can cause mild discomfort such as headaches and irritability during withdrawal from caffeine and sugars. Naturally, we’ll have hunger pains. It’s important to limit physical activity and exercise moderately; to take time to rest.

We’re following Jesus’ example when we fast. Spend time listening to praise and worship. Pray as often as you can throughout the day. Get away from the normal distractions as much as possible and keep your heart and mind set on seeking God’s will for us.

As we enter this time of heightened spiritual devotion, it’s important to be aware that Satan will do everything he can to pull us away from our prayer and Bible reading time. When we feel the enemy trying to discourage or distract us, we need to immediately go to God in prayer and ask Him to strengthen us in the face of difficulties and temptations.

How to End the Fast

Don’t overeat when the time comes to end the fast. Because our digestive systems have most likely reduced enzyme production, overeating or ingesting certain foods too quickly may cause nausea, stomach aches, or diarrhea. Introducing regular foods slowly will help break a fast safely, without disrupting the digestive system.

As part of our first weekend services following the 5 days of the fast, we’ll celebrate communion, symbolically “breaking our fast” together as a church community.

Prayer & Fasting Week

What is Fasting | What to Expect | Daily Prayer Guide | Next Steps

Daily Prayer Guide

In the story of Nehemiah, he had something of great importance to do, something that might even be life-threatening. And as the story unfolds we read that he prayed to God and then spoke to the king. As a community, what if we did this? What if we prayed to God first? That’s exactly what we hope we’ll continue to learn together as a community of faith – to see prayer as a first response rather than a last resort.

Understanding the necessity of prayer is not enough. In order for it to become a part of our life, it needs to become something we look forward to doing. When we discover the beauty of daily conversation with Him, we’ll experience the presence of God that will change our lives forever.

Regardless of how long you choose to fast, we want to encourage everyone to join us for 5 days of prayer, March 11-15, 2019. The following Bible verses and simple questions will help guide us in our quiet times of prayer.

The Prayer Room (located just inside the east entrance of the building) will be open every evening March 11-17, 7:00-9:00 pm. All are welcome to use this space for quiet prayer; prayer team members will be available to pray with.

 

What is Fasting | What to Expect | Daily Prayer Guide | Next Steps

 

Day 1 Prayer: Easter 2019

Our focus on the cross this Easter will result in many people encountering Jesus in faith. We’re praying for life change! We also need to pray for everyone involved as we prepare, and that God would already be working in the hearts of people who we’ll invite to celebrate Easter weekend with us (April 20/21, 2019).

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3 NIV)

  • What’s this passage telling me about God?
  • What’s this passage telling me about myself? What is God trying to say to me right now?
  • What does this Scripture have to say to me about my life at this time?
  • Spend some time praying for those who will encounter Jesus this Easter at FAC.

What is Fasting | What to Expect | Daily Prayer Guide | Next Steps

 

Day 2 Prayer: Southwest Campus

Our focus today is the Southwest Campus. Pray for the establishment of the core team, people who will commit to the new campus, the communities we’re reaching out to, Pastor Jeff Marshall as he leads, a successful launch in September 2019, and ultimately for people coming to know Jesus as a result.

“… 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 I will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” (2 Chronicles 7:14-15 NIV)

  • What’s this passage telling me about God?
  • What’s this passage telling me about myself? What is God trying to say to me right now?
  • What does this Scripture have to say to me about my life at this time?
  • Spend some time praying for the coming FAC Southwest Campus.

What is Fasting | What to Expect | Daily Prayer Guide | Next Steps

 

Day 3 Prayer: Summer Outreach

Our focus today is the summer outreach opportunities through FAC. So much will be happening this summer: Discovery Camps for kids, short-term missions trips, and many other activities. We’re a church on mission. Who can we tell?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere — in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NLT)

  • What’s this passage telling me about God?
  • What’s this passage telling me about myself? What is God trying to say to me right now?
  • What does this Scripture have to say to me about my life at this time?
  • Spend some time pray for outreach opportunities this summer through FAC.

What is Fasting | What to Expect | Daily Prayer Guide | Next Steps

 

Day 4 Prayer: FAC Leadership

Our focus today is the leadership team here at FAC. Several on our Board of Elders and staff families are dealing with significant health challenges these days that seem almost impossible. But nothing is too hard for the Lord.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Saviour, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NLT)

  • What’s this passage telling me about God?
  • What’s this passage telling me about myself? What is God trying to say to me right now?
  • What does this Scripture have to say to me about my life at this time?
  • Spend some time praying for the leadership of FAC.

 

What is Fasting | What to Expect | Daily Prayer Guide | Next Steps

 

Day 5 Prayer: Renewal

Our focus today is renewal for FAC. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit would blow through our church filling us with awe, transforming us to be God’s holy people, wholeheartedly devoted to Him.

“Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)

    • What’s this passage telling me about God?
    • What’s this passage telling me about myself? What is God trying to say to me right now?
    • What does this Scripture have to say to me about my life at this time?
    • Spend some time praying for renewal for FAC as a whole, in others, and in yourself.

 

Next Steps

Thank you for being a part of the Prayer & Fasting Week at FAC! Join us March 16/17, 2019 as we gather together in the weekend services (Saturday 6:30 pm, Sunday, 9:15 & 11:15 am) and celebrate communion as a way to mark the end of this experience.

Prayer Retreat

You’re also invited to a free Prayer Retreat on campus Saturday, April 6. Learn more.

If you’d like to share what God revealed to you during this week of prayer and fasting, please fill out this form and we’ll be in touch.

What is Fasting | What to Expect | Daily Prayer Guide | Next Steps


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