His sheep follow him because they know his voice. - John 10:4
Stop doing this or that. Eat less. Exercise more. Clean the garage. Keep my car cleaner. Be nicer to everyone. Stop yelling at my kids. Have a date night with my spouse.
We all have those kinds of lists, don’t we? Whether in ancient or modern times, human nature hasn’t changed. The tyranny of the urgent often wins the battle for our attention.
Many people mark the coming new year with the expectations of life changing resolutions, diet and exercise plans, and just general good intentions. But there is another option. Some Christians mark the beginning of the new year with a fast, such as we are doing (21 Days).
Fasting provides us with an opportunity to reconsider our priorities and align ourselves with God and His purposes.
Scripture certainly commends dietary fasts. We also realize that sometimes it’s equally meaningful to fast from things that occupy too much of our attention, whether it’s electronics, media, or social media.
Whatever we choose to fast from, the true benefits are an opportunity for greater intimacy with God (read Matt 6:16-18).
God wants to develop in each of us spiritual sensitivity to His voice and guidance. The more time we spend with our Shepherd, the greater ability we have to hear His voice (John 10:3-5, 14-16).
We all dread interruptions. Unfortunately, that mindset often really limits our ability to pay attention to God in the here-and-now. We may miss His overtures towards us because we are not looking for them, or don’t have time for them!
In our fast-paced, competitive culture, fasting might train us to slow down our pace and make room for God to come into our lives as He chooses. Perhaps instead of dreading this time of sacrifice, we might learn to embrace it. It can produce rich spiritual dividends.
Fasting gives us a chance to change up our routine, which can help us look at old things in new ways, to look at things from God’s perspective. To the extent that food is a distraction, fasting can help us to free ourselves to be fully present to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.
We can regain a Godly perspective, regain composure, and put things in their rightful place. In Scripture, we will hear the voice of our Shepherd. We just come with a posture of submitting to what He wants to bring to our attention.
Are you listening?
“12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” - Philippians 2:12-13
This past year I watched the season finale of America’s Got Talent. I couldn’t help but be inspired by the singer-songwriter and pianist Kodi Lee. Born with optic nerve hypoplasia, he is legally blind. He was also diagnosed with autism at an early age and suffers from Addison’s disease as well. Despite all the challenges he has faced, at the end of the final show, Kodi Lee was announced the winner of Season 14.
Kodi Lee winning the show isn’t what inspired me the most. What inspired me even more was his answer to the question: “What will you do with the money now that you won America’s Got Talent?” Kodi responded by saying, “I am going to buy a grand piano in every color.”
Wait a minute, stop the press. Kodi is legally blind. What would buying a piano in every color do for him? Why would he want to do that? Had Kodi Lee known all the obstacles and challenges he would face in his life do you think he would have continued, or, for that matter, even started?
His answer is a great reminder that you don’t need sight to have a vision. Let me say that again: you don’t need sight to have a vision.
If God has given you a vision for your life, you don’t have to see every step along the way in order to start moving toward it. God had a plan and gave the prophet Nehemiah a vision to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.
Nehemiah didn’t wait for the blueprints; he didn’t wait to see every step mapped out for him. He got started. Nehemiah encountered many obstacles along the way. He even had to train the people building the wall to fight with swords as they encountered resistance.
“17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work.” (Nehemiah 2:17-18)
Perhaps we, like Nehemiah, just need to keep being faithful to respond to the “next step” God gives us. After all, what He is doing in us is just as important as the destination. He’s got the future under control; our job is to trust and obey.
Where are the next generation of leaders?
We no longer live in a time where our children can afford to have parents without a prayer life.
Our children will search for truths in their life…
Parents, are you speaking truth into their lives?
Are you sharing the Truth with them?"
The world is spending no time indoctrinating our children with their agenda.
It's in their schools, its in their workplace, it's even in some of our families homes.
The charge is on us parents. Are we doing our part?
Have we've been the voice of reason and truth in our home?
Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. 19 O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.
Thank you, O Lord, that you are quick to answer when we cry for help. You are as swift as You are patient. We pray that today you act in our hearts, in my heart, O God. Wait no longer, God of patient love. May this be the day when You satisfy Your desire to be known as the God who is gracious to all.
"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
O Jesus, this well-known story of your love for the broken is medicine for a soul who fails to believe this is true of You. You are constantly watching. Expose the hoax of worldly treasures that keep us and so many in our city from returning to You. Awaken their yearning. Convince them of your unfailing love and let the homecoming party begin.
On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; 7 And give Him no rest until He establishes And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
Consistent and persistent prayer is hard, O Lord. But your goodness and gracious plans for our city and our people keep us on our knees. We refuse to believe the lie that You are inactive and uninterested in us and our city. You are not finished with us. Lift up our hopes so that we pray mighty prayers. Grant us stamina at our posts, watching, asking and thanking You.
Now [Jesus] was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, 2 saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3 "There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him…
We confess we are often prayerless. We lose heart easily. We are too full, too content and too busy. Call us anew to a life of praying with steady determination. Energize us with Your unwavering zeal. Train us to pray in patient pursuit of Your promises.
· Pray for Jesus to encourage our hearts to pray with renewed hope and persistence
· Pray for God to invigorate this special season of prayer in our homes and throughout the Body of Christ in our city
· Pray for students, professors, administrators and parents
'For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring And My blessing on your descendants; 4 And they will spring up among the grass Like poplars by streams of water.'
For some of us, Lord, prayers that echo passages like this make us uncomfortable. Save us from the shackles of fear. Allow the Holy Spirit to form our meager prayers into powerfully true expressions before your throne. Pour out your Spirit on us and our city. Inundate us with Your love. Pour out your grace on our children. Grow us in maturity, health and strength.
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"
Like that beautiful moment with our Savior, take your stand in our city O God. Raise your voice so that everyone can hear. Call us to come to you. May those far from you hear and respond. You are the only source of life, we confess and celebrate. May Your life cover our city.
• Pray for great spiritual thirst throughout our city and in the Body of Christ
• Pray for man to hear the voice of God and respond in faith
• Pray for the orphans and widows in our city
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Search my heart, our hearts, and expose areas of secret sin. For too long we have blamed others and denied our own responsibility. Purify us from the inside out. Grant us an enduring spiritual power to serve you with integrity. We long for the joy of a single-minded devotion to You, our most Holy God.
And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." 42Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
As you did, our Savior, with this man so long ago, will you do with us and with our city? Thank you for your willingness to clean us from the pollution of our sin. You are still filled with endless compassion. You are willing to touch us. You can make us clean.
· Pray for God to give us, the body of Christ and those far from God, the desire to be free from sin
· Pray that Christ’s compassion would be revealed to those who feel hopeless and alone
· Pray for the marriages in our city
Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, 14 Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed."
Today we pray for the humility to replace our pride and complacency with faith, trust, action, obedience, prayer and mercy. We have known what it is like to be impressed by our own religious performance. When we do so, we are among those who have approached You without heart or humility. Please break through our pride. Surprise us with your supremacy. Humble us with your glory O Lord.
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
We have kept ourselves busy and taken pride in our busyness and preoccupation. But our ambitious self-sufficiency has left us weary and distracted. We come to You now, just as You have summoned us to come – close enough to learn who You are. Show us your heart and train us in Your humility.
· Pray for God to rescue our runaway lives so that we can more fully follow Him and His ways
· Pray for Christ’s humility to replace our pride and heal our brokenness
· Pray for the pastors in our city
· Remember to join us tonight at 6:30 PM for a time of corporate prayer.
Will You not Yourself revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? 7 Show us Your lovingkindness, O LORD, And grant us Your salvation. 8 I will hear what God the LORD will say; For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; But let them not turn back to folly. 9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land.
Our prayer today is for renewal. Revive us O Lord. Revive our city. Revivals in earlier generations have come and gone, blazing intensely and then sputtering out. Can Your unfailing love bring an unceasing revival? We know that our love for You fades, but Your love is never-failing. Please show us what your enduring love can do. Meet us with you power and grace. Do something amazing in our city. Surprise us with your glory. We pray this word spoken over John the Baptist that you would continue to do this in our city.
…go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; 77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us…
· Pray for God to expose sin in ways that bring hope in Jesus Christ, our freedom and righteousness
· Pray for the Body of Christ in our city to be awakened to pray and seek God for revival with abandonment
· Pray for the women and mothers in our city