As a church family we begin 2024 with a Week of Prayer. We believe this season to be essential as we obey Christ’s command to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Together we are starting off this new year seeking Him and seeking breakthrough with intentional prayer and fasting.
As we survey the Scriptures, the power of prayer is undeniable. Through prayer we say, “God I am dependent on you” and “I am casting my cares on the One who I know is in control.” Though all of us could afford to see growth in our prayer life, most of us are very familiar with prayer. Fasting, however, is new to many. Prayer is taking our burdens to God, but fasting is a way to catalyze those prayers towards the breakthrough we’re seeking. Fasting is a way to deny yourself to make space for God to show up. It’s setting aside what we often seek for satisfaction, in order to seek God for satisfaction.
In the scriptures we see a variety of kinds of fasting, some more extreme than others:
- 40 Day Complete Fast: Both Jesus & Moses fasted from food and water for 40 days. (Ex 34:28, Matt 4:2)
- Complete Fast: God’s people often fasted from food. This may be one meal, a day, or multiple days. (Ezra 4:16)
- Partial Fast: God’s people have also fasted from certain aspects of a meal or other pleasures. Daniel fasted from delicacies, meats, wine, and oils. (Daniel 10:3)
What might these practically look like for you?
Here are just a few ideas for you to consider during our Week of Prayer:
- If this is brand new for you, perhaps you could fast one lunch per week for each of these three weeks. Instead of the normal lunch routine, you could go for a walk and pray for 30 minutes to an hour.
- You may find yourself seeking satisfaction in social media, television, sweets, or alcohol. You may consider fasting one of these for a week or the full three weeks.
- Does your evening routine include unwinding by watching a show or two (or three)? Consider bundling up and going for a prayer walk instead! Live near someone from the church? What if you arranged multiple prayer walks together?!
- Fasting isn’t new to you? Consider a 1-3 day fast. You may consider still eating fruits & vegetables. When fasting for one day, you can fast dinner, breakfast, and lunch and then break the fast at dinner. This way you are only fasting through one sleep (and it mirrors a Jewish day - beginning and ending at sundown).
These are ideas, but of course, you must consider your unique life circumstances and health. Do not be legalistic about this. God is concerned with your heart and the spirit behind any fasting.
Below is a daily Prayer Guide to guide you in what to pray for each day this week.
Gospel: Pray that we would be a church of people whose lives are deeply impacted by the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ. Pray that we are daily applying the gospel in our own lives and increasingly able to articulate the gospel to others.
Seeking: Pray that each of us would seek the Lord over and above anything else in this world. Pray that God would allow us to taste and see that He is good. Pray that every one of us would develop a regular time with God and that it would move to deeper places than the previous year.
Community: Pray that each of us would be living in meaningful Christ-centered relationships. Pray that we would all be known and caring for each other through Connection Groups and Reach Teams. Pray for a spirit of transparency among our people.
Generosity: Pray that God would stir all of us to be generous with our time, talent, and treasure. Pray that our church’s needs would be met financially. Pray that our Reach teams would be full and functioning in health. Pray that people would find a place where they can use their gifts for the glory of God and the good of others in the church. Pray that God would make clear the opportunities He would have our church to step into and the needs that He would have us meet this year.
Neighbors: Pray that we would “neighbor” well. Our neighbors include our literal next door neighbors, but also co-workers, classmates, and regular acquaintances. Pray that each of us would be actively “B.L.E.S.S.ing” these neighbors (Begin with prayer for them by name, Listen/learn about them through questions, Eating or engaging in some next-step activity that builds relationship, Serving them in a practical way, Story - take advantage of an opportunity to share your story and the story of Jesus). Pray that every one of us would have an intentional 3 people that we are praying for and seeking to B.L.E.S.S.
Transformation: Pray that we would all experience a transformation of life in 2024. “He who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). Knowing this, pray that God’s work would be evident in our lives. Pray that we would be increasingly changed by Him. Pray that at the end of this year we would be able to look back and see real transformation, that we are not the same - we have grown.
Generations: Pray that our faith would be passed to the next generation. Pray for our children, that they would see a compelling Christ in us. Pray for River Kids ministry, that it would be effective in the mission of “Partnering with parents to connect kids to Jesus.” Pray for our youth. We have a youth ministry where almost none of our students go to the same schools. Pray that God would develop a life-giving community of peers and youth leaders to support them in their developing faith. Pray for our college students. Pray that God would use this season and His people in Boston to form a deep discipleship to Jesus that continues beyond these unique years.