As a Church we are fasting on Thursday the 9th of April, and meeting for a Zoom Prayer Meeting at 7pm. We wanted to provide everyone with a guide on what fasting is all about, and give us some prayer points for Thursday.
Food is a central part of all of our lives. We eat for sustenance and nutrition, and we eat for the fun and joy of it. We feast to mark special occasions and milestones, and we celebrate friendship and community every time we gather around a dining room table.
The rhythm of our days are often defined by our meals. This is particularly true of this lockdown period where cooking and baking, eating and feasting have become an essential part of our daily routines.
But what if instead, our day was defined by Prayer?
As the Church we find ourselves in a moment of crisis as the world faces the Coronavirus pandemic. Prayer and fasting is the church’s call to action at this time. It is our first response and not our last resort. In a season that has potential to breed a culture of apathy, this is a beautiful way that we as the church can mobilise to see God move in our nation and the world.
WHAT IS FASTING?
Fasting is a spiritual discipline practiced by followers of Jesus, whereby they abstain from eating food, and doing certain activities, to make more time to seek God in prayer.
Fasting isn’t self-deprivation, or making a sacrifice to get something from God. Fasting is actually Feasting. Instead of feasting on food, we are feasting on the grace, love, and truth of God, as we make time to be with Him.
Fasting and prayer go hand in hand. Without praying, we aren’t fasting, we’re simply dieting. So as we fast, our goal is to significantly increase the amount of time we devote to prayer.
Scriptures on Fasting:
Isaiah 58; Matthew 6v16-18; Luke 5v33-35; Luke 4v1-2; Luke 18v9-14; Nehemiah 1v4, 9v1-3; Esther 4v3 + v14-17; Acts 13v2, 14v23; Joel 2v12; Luke 2v36-37; 2 Samuel 12v16-23; Jonah 3v5-10
WHY ARE WE FASTING?
All throughout Scripture we read about the spiritual disciplines of fasting and prayer. The Bible gives us plenty of examples of people who have fasted and prayed, for many different reasons. We see that Jesus himself fasted and prayed. As followers of Jesus we fast and pray in obedience to Jesus and the Scriptures (Matthew 6v16).
Fasting is a practice that helps us grow in our relationship with God, and in our hunger for him.
Food is something that is a part of our everyday lives. Most of us eat meals multiple times a day. So, when we fast we are breaking from the normal way things are, to remind ourselves that what really sustains us, is not food. We are not self-sufficient. What we need is external, and comes from God. We are completely dependent on him.
This is an important reminder for us in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. For many of us the things that we have been dependent on or have found security in have been stripped away.
This fast provides us with a moment to reflect on what or who we are depending on. As we fast we have the opportunity to turn to Jesus as the true source of life, and our ultimate joy and satisfaction.
As our stomachs grumble, and as we feel hunger pangs, we are reminded of our greater hunger for Him, and this reminds us to pray and seek Him.
Lastly, we do not fast to ‘twist God’s arm’. Fasting doesn’t make God more likely to answer our prayers because we’re showing Him that ‘we mean business’. Fasting is more about us. When we fast we are creating space to engage with God in prayer as we cut out the distractions around us.
HOW DO WE FAST?
As a Church we are fasting for 1 day, on Thursday the 9th of April. We will not be eating food, or drinking caffeine or alcohol on those days. We will only be drinking water and fruit juice throughout the day, and meeting on Zoom to pray together as a Church at 7pm that night.
Not eating, cooking, doing grocery shopping, sitting down for a meal or washing dishes gives us more time to pray, to study the scriptures and to seek God.
You might also decide to fast Social Media, TV or other time consuming activities to make more time to Pray and seek God on this day.
If for Medical reasons you are unable to do this fast, please don’t feel bad about it! But, perhaps you can fast something else to make more time to pray and seek God for yourself?
Please also get your Children involved in the fast! Perhaps they could give up chocolate and sweets? Or time in front of the TV, or on their Tablets. Whatever they fast, this is a great opportunity to disciple our kids, and to make time to pray with them during the day, explaining why we are Fasting and including them in what the whole Church Community are all doing together.
PRAYER POINTS FOR OUR TIME OF FASTING:
Praying for the Sick, Poor & Vulnerable:
- That those who have contracted the Coronavirus would be healed and recover from the virus.
- That God would provide for the poor and for those who have lost their sources of income during this time. That a culture of generosity would flourish as people selflessly look out for the needs of one another.
- That people who are not sick, particularly those who are most vulnerable (pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems/health, older people etc) would be protected from the virus.
- That our health care workers who are on the frontlines would be protected from the virus. That they would have wisdom, compassion and peace as they serve those who are sick during this time.
- That God would slow down the spread of the virus, and that the virus would be eradicated.
Praying for Easter:
- That Easter in Lockdown would provide new and creative opportunities for the Gospel to spread.
- That the #JesusChangedMyLife testimonies across social media would reach a variety of different people from all walks of life, and that many people who are searching for hope at this time would be drawn to Jesus.
- That those who were previously opposed to the Gospel would find Jesus as they wrestle with the difficult circumstances and questions resulting from the virus.
- That the church would rise up in this moment to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus to the world, and that more people than ever before would hear the Good News of Jesus this Easter Sunday.
- That many people would come to put their faith and trust in Him.
- That church leaders across the world would be envisioned and empowered by the Holy Spirit as they prepare their preaches for the Easter weekend in a new way online.
- That parents would lead their children well over this time, focusing on Jesus and the cross and not only on Easter eggs and bunnies. That it would be a significant weekend for children as they come to know Jesus and put their faith in him.
Prayers of Rejoicing and Praise:
- That praise for God would arise as we remember the cross and the price Jesus paid so that we could be forgiven and reconciled back into relationship with God.
- That gratitude would rise in our hearts as we see Jesus, and replace complaining and negativity.
- That we would give thanks for all the ways he is at work in our lives even in the midst of our suffering and difficult circumstances. That we would rejoice in his care and love for us.
- That we would praise God for the living hope we have in Jesus. That no matter what happens here on Earth we know that ultimately death has been defeated and that we have eternal life in Jesus.
Praying for life after the Coronavirus:
- That we would remember all the ways that God has spoken to us and changed us during this time. That we would continue to press into our discipleship to Jesus and following his ways.
- That we would not go back to life as usual, putting our faith and trust in things other than God. But that we would continue to look to Jesus as our provider and protector. That we would continue to live lives that are fully dependent on him.
- That those of us who have come to know Jesus in this season, would continue on in our relationship with him, even after the difficulties of the Coronavirus have faded. That the seeds of the Gospel that have been sown would produce a harvest of salvations, and that many new people would be added to Church communities around Durban and the World.
- We pray for the struggling Global Economy, that new businesses and ideas would come into fruition and that God would be glorified as the economy recovers and flourishes.
- For Presidents, Politicians and Decision Makers, who are carrying huge responsibility and making decisions with long-term, far-reaching impact to know what to do, and make the right choices.
- For those under great pressure now, to not experience burnout in the weeks and months ahead, but to be refreshed, healed, comforted and strengthened by God after this crisis abates.
- For answered prayers, miracles, supernatural intervention and help for different people and different needs around the world.