I thought I’d put a few pointers on here, which would be reminders for me, and perhaps help others too, as in our church we enter an exciting season, at the start of the year, where we focus in on prayer. I’m not promising to blog regularly!
When we are setting aside more time for Jesus, we may feel a bit scared that we won’t know how to fill it. In reality, we will soon find we need MORE time, to do all the stuff that we suddenly want to do. Let’s pray that this desire to be with Jesus, to listen to Him, to take a ‘course in Jesus’ as we heard last Sunday about Vision – let’s pray that this spills over and that these two months are only the beginning.
Below I have gathered some thoughts under some headings, which are reflections on me personally and how I am approaching this time. Don’t feel that you have to do these things – listen to hear what Father is saying for you.
My sister has written a song, which I’ve become more aware of recently, which goes: ‘There are mountains only you can climb, and sunsets just for you’ or something like that. There ARE some mountains we will climb together as a church. There are some you may climb as a family, or as a Life Group – or perhaps just with a special friend in the church (or outside).
Why not tell someone else that we are doing a season of prayer?
For me, I have decided to go for three day fasts, building up my capacity for fasting, and then do a ten day fast. I think that I will still probably be drinking coffee during that time, though I may cut down on caffeine. Technically, I should be drinking black coffee, as ‘milk’ is food. I will try on a three day fast to fast the coffee, and see how I get on. A great tip that someone gave me not that long ago is to drink hot water, rather than cold (to get energy), and also you could go for hot squash. That still works quite well.
Just to give you the figures, each week I plan to fast Wed to Friday inclusive. I will start from when I wake up, and not break the fast until the Sat morning each week. After two weeks of three day fasts, I am going to go for a ten day fast, which will start on the Monday, and I will finish on the Wed which is the last Wed of the first month. I have given myself after that a week’s break, to recover. I’m mindful that I plan to run a half marathon on the 9th Feb, so I do really need that week just to have some carbs back in my body! Then I will do one more three day fast, build in another week’s break, and conclude the time of fasting with a five day fast. I may find, if the first ten day fast went well, that I prefer to do a SECOND ten day fast.
Why are you telling me this, I hear you ask? Aren’t we supposed to fast in secret? Well, yes, we are. But there is also power in corporate fasting. Others may be planning to fast as well. We can pray for each other and support each other in prayer – we’re going to need that. Remember how Aaron and Hur lifted up Moses’ arms in Exodus 17 so that the battle could be won? Let’s reach out to each other especially in prayer in this time. If we listen, we will hear God telling us to pray for certain people, to reach out to them and encourage them.
What I’m excited about here is the opportunity for breakthroughs. Both in the time freed up from thinking about food, in the times together as church, and when I worship or wait on God, I will find myself seeing my life, my family, my relationships, my work, the church – ALL in a different way. It helps us to be part of the much bigger picture – the Kingdom of God and what he is doing. I can state what breakthroughs I want – but God will have different plans, I’m sure – and much more wonderful than mine!
Isn’t it about time we started to say no to the devil? No to our own evil desires, and no to the world? We know that He only has our best interests at heart.
On a practical level, I was re-reading my journal from 2018, and this time last year, I was embarking on marathon training. I remembered that God had spoken to me, as I was maybe a month off the Brighton marathon (so in March) and said that if I can run 26.2 miles, I can also manage a 40 day-fast. Well, I’m not going STRAIGHT into that one, just as you don’t go straight into a marathon. But these are very exciting early steps.
DEVOTIONS – WHAT TO DO
One thing that we used quite a lot with 24/7 prayer rooms is to break up an hour of prayer into 5 minute segments. You can EASILY think of what to do with each segment. WARNING – five minutes is actually quite a lot longer than you think to start with. Five minutes of speaking aloud in tongues is quite a lot. In five minutes, with a list in front of you, you can pray for quite a lot of people.
So for example (from Dick Eastman, The Hour that Changes the World). Notice you start and end with praise. As a practical tip, I found 12 activities too many, and for a long while I focused in on 5 or 6 of them, and just did them, e.g. PRAISE, CONFESSION, SCRIPTURE PRAYING, WATCHING, INTERCESSION, WAITING. That’s half an hour rather than an hour. Or just take two of them at a time.
Make sure that you give good amounts of time to loving God, to singing to Him, to reading Psalms aloud, to declaring who He is. Thanking Him for all He has done. Asking forgiveness for our mistakes, for our omissions, for what we have failed to do. Asking Him to turn a searchlight on our hearts and show us where our motivations are false, prideful, conceited, selfish. Sometimes you will find that the whole prayer time is taken up with that. Other times, you can move on into intercession (praying for others).
Because you know that you will have more time for prayer, be on the alert during the day for things to pray for. Best to pray for them when you hear of them. And if Father wants you to pray for them more, He will tell you.
Can you get someone else to pray with you, alongside you? Ring someone up and pray with them over the phone? Or agree to meet for a short while, and just to pray together? Share with them how it’s going. Where you really got passionate and excited? Where you got a bit down and felt like giving up? Then you can encourage each other.
However much we want to devote our whole lives to God (and sometimes we do!), real life has a habit of getting in the way. Without being too ambitious, we can recognise that certain things help or hinder us to be our best for Jesus and for others. Why not let the start of this year be a time where you’re at your best? For me, I know that when I get out and run I’m better. So I’m planning to do some short early morning runs each week. I didn’t even do this when I was marathon training!
Where I’m NOT at my best is often the evenings, especially after a day at work (you know what I mean!). My wife and I have agreed that once the boys are in bed, we are going to take some time and look at the 40 days booklet verse for that day, and pray together, and see what we hear God saying. We will do this a day in advance, so we can revisit the verse during the day and keep in sync with everyone else. I know that sometimes I won’t feel like doing this, but we will be able to help each other, and prompt each other.
WHAT ARE YOU GETTING?
Before I start the 40 days, I got the word ‘abundance’. We draw water with joy out of the wells of salvation. There’s more than just the ‘I am saved, I am free’. There is MORE every day of our lives. I also saw a key turning in a lock. I think there’s more to come on that. Psalm 77:10 says ‘I will remember the days of the right hand of the Most High.’ This is reminding me of revival, and of what God has commanded. I believe the time is here for that.