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Prayer and Fasting

Simple Discipleship

This is the fourth message in the series: Simple Discipleship.

We have already discussed, Being a Leader/Disciple, Intimacy/Love of God, Worship and Sacrifice.

Here is what we will be studying for next week:

Holy Spirit/Power of God

Scriptures for Study: 1 Sam 10:1-13, Joel 2:28-32, John 16:5-15, Acts 1:4-14, 2:1-11, 1 Cor 2:9-16.

Here are my Notes: Simple Discipleship Week 4

Here is the Audio Sermon: Prayer and Fasting

fasting and prayer

As we begin to look at prayer and fasting, we must first ask two important questions:

What is Prayer?

What is Fasting?

In studying this topic, my definition of prayer would be inviting God into our lives and situations by bringing things to Him.  

We are encouraged to pray without ceasing.  We are not supposed to go around with our eyes closed and heads bowed all the time, but wherever we go and whatever we are doing, we are to be in constant communication with God inviting Him into our situations and surroundings and making Him a part of our everyday activities.

In coming to understand more about it, my definition of fasting is giving up legitimate pleasures as a sacrifice to gain breakthrough and a deepening relationship with the Lord.  

God has given us necessary things, and it is the blessing of the Lord to us for them to be good.  However, in talking about sacrifice, we saw that we were to give up something important to us to gain a deeper relationship with God.  Fasting is a sacrifice of something that we  enjoy (Food, Entertainment, Sleep…) so that we get breakthrough and walk into a deeper communion with the Lord.

Fasting always works together with prayer.  Everywhere that fasting is mentioned it is in combination with prayer.  Fasting without prayer is just dieting.  The point of fasting is to give up a legitimate pleasure and use the extra time that we have to spend praying.

fasting

In Daniel 10, in is clearly evident that as Daniel was praying and fasting, he was empowering God’s spiritual forces to bring about change.  Something happens as we fast in conjunction with prayer that empowers heavenly forces to win spiritual battles.  As a result of this, Daniel was strengthened, encouraged, and given answers that he was seeking.  You have the ability to empower heavenly forces to win spiritual victories through fasting and prayer!!!

In Isaiah 58, it is even more evident that fasting with the wrong motives and wrong heart is no good and not even accepted by God.  As we fast, God brings revelation to us and we then have the choice whether to repent and be obedient or to ignore the revelation.  When we ignore what God is saying, our fasting and praying is not powerful or effective but our hearts become increasingly hardened to the voice of God.  Fasting and prayer is powerful when we repent and walk in obedience to the revelation of the Lord.

Look at a few of the benefits of the right type of fasting and praying from v. 12.  God is able to build where there was once destruction.  The enemy is constantly trying to bring destruction in our lives, but through fasting and prayer, God is able to build something that lasts on top of this destruction.  God strengthens our foundations, revitalizes our spiritual heritage for us to pass on in greater measures to our children, fortifies our defenses and clarifies our paths.  This is the kind of fasting and prayer that I want to be a part of!!!

prayer

In Matthew 6, we come to find the importance of not being religious.  In regards to both prayer and fasting, Jesus mentions the secret place.  The thoughts and intentions of our heart is what God judges so we should never do these things out of obligation or for other people to be proud of us.  We should have a genuine desire to grow closer to the Lord and out of that heart in the secret place, God is able to give spiritual treasures.  I would rather be rewarded by God rather than men any day!!!  

It is also important to realize that the prayer and fasting that we do right now affects eternity.  When we are in heaven, there will be no need to pray or fast because we will be partying with Jesus face to face.  Right now, we have the unique ability to affect eternity with our pure prayer and holy fasting!!!

In Habakkuk 2, we find out that it does not matter how you pray, but that you are actually communicating with God.  The prophet says clearly that he was waiting to be corrected.  Habakkuk’s prayers would raw and filled with emotion.  He did not come with proper words and civilized emotions.  He came as he was and expressed himself honestly and was willing to repent and be corrected.  

We also find the importance of prophetic revelation or vision.  Revelation from God gives us tiny glimpses into our God-sized destiny and this compels us to align ourselves with Him and move more into it.  As we write these things down, it is an encouragement to us when it takes longer to get here than we want (which is 99.99% of the time), an encouragement to others when it does finally come about, and a testimony to the glory and faithfulness of God.

The most important lesson from Mark 9 and Matthew 17 is that in the middle of our hopeless situations that we do not feel as if we can pray or have the faith to pray for complete deliverance and healing, we pray for the grace to overcome our doubt and for God to strengthen our faith.

I encourage you to pray and ask Holy Spirit to bring revelation as you meditate on these questions:

What am I praying for right now?

What are the things I have given up praying for?

Is my secret place worthy of being rewarded?

What has God revealed and called me to that I am not being obedient or repentant to?

What legitimate pleasure am I willing to give up that I might receive a spiritual breakthrough in myself and the lives of others and be launched into a deeper communion with the Lord?

fat and pray

I pray even now that God would give us all hungry hearts to know Him in deeper and mightier ways than ever before.  Help us all to repent of the things which you reveal in our hearts and surrender to walk in full obedience to what He is calling us to.  May our secret places be worthy of reward, and may God bring forth mighty spiritual rewards because of our faithfulness and perseverance in the secret place.

I would like to encourage you to pray and give something up in fasting so that you are able to step into a deeper walk with the Lord and that greater spiritual breakthrough would come in your life!!!

Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!

 

 

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Finding Fulfillment

We were given the privilege recently of partnering with a ministry here in Newcastle called Street Pastors (http://newcastle.streetpastors.org.uk/). Street Pastors is a ministry that pairs with the local police on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 pm to 4 am to attend to the homeless and people partaking in the nightlife here. Newcastle is known to be the 8th largest party city in the world. People from all over England and even the bordering nations travel here to enjoy the wide variety offered up for entertainment and fulfillment.

We met up the day after New Year’s with the team we would be venturing out with to pray and prepare for the night. We had been told that this night would be rather quiet because everyone would have gone out the night before to celebrate and party it up, spending all of their money. We spent the first part of the night walking around giving candy bars and blankets to the homeless people along the streets, of whom many are very acquainted with Street Pastors and among seeing the bright yellow vests and jackets, flocked to receive a gift.

At midnight, we encountered a woman with her 7 year old son who had traveled to Newcastle to visit the city. She didn’t research travel times to be able to get back home so they had missed the last of every form of transport home. After many attempts to contact people, we ended up taking them to the police station where they could stay warm and wait until morning to get home. The leaders of the team spent time with them and talked with them for a long time learning about them. As the night went on, we encountered a group of drunk young men who prevented us from watching after a young girl passing by dressed in as little clothing as possible who was oblivious to her surroundings. They asked about our beliefs, about Jesus and some in a mocking tone. We realized it was a distraction from the enemy that caused us to lose her when they began speaking derogatory words about myself and the woman leader.

I was able to assist a girl who was drunk and walking across the slick street in 6 inch heels who tripped and face planted on the ground. She was intoxicated enough to not feel any pain through laughter though I wouldn’t be surprised if she gave herself a concussion. I gave her a pair of flip flops so she could walk safer and she found it more necessary to eat that get medical help. The last 30 minutes were so eventful that there almost weren’t enough of us to attend to every situation. As a bar was closing, I saw two girls carrying their heavily drunk friend who could barely open her eyes, who was crying and in pain. She had no shoes on so I gave her a pair of flip flops and found out in seeing the massive lump on her ankle that she fell down a flight of stairs and clearly broke her ankle. After much yelling from her friends, who knew we were good and here to help, we got a cab to the hospital for her since she refused EMTs. As this occurred, another girl behind them punched a young man in the face so the rest of the group was trying to keep him from retaliating. She walked off and punched another man whose friend eventually ordered a taxi to take this angry guy home because he refused to not go after her. We had to call the police to pick her up because she was drunk and vulnerable and another man was trying to pick her up.

One thing I learned from this night is the power the enemy has over hungry souls searching for what only God can give and how degrading of levels he takes them to in false fulfillment. Luke 8:4-15 was brought to life before me in reference to the Parable of the Sower. The seeds that fell among the thorns are those who hear the Word but quickly it is choked out by the cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches and the pleasures of this life. It was a joy to share the love of Christ to those who are lost and need to know the depths of this love. James 1:27 says “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

Are you living out this verse to the fullest? If not, what ways can you spread God’s love through serving? If so, is there a new way that you can live it out?

Katie, Pure Fire of Yahweh!!!

False Faces of Friends and Foes

Our God is truly amazing!!! After our flurry of activities in Scotland, we were able to take a kind of chill week to relax and get into the rhythm of things here in Newcastle. It was a short train ride from Stirling to Scotland, but it was incredibly beautiful along the way. We have been completely welcomed into the family of God at St. Luke’s, and I have gotten to connect with many friends from last year. The vicar here Robert, has commented several times that he hopes we stay for a really long time. We will see what happens, but at the very least, we know that we can be close to friends and family over the holidays, which is always a blessing.

We have the privilege of staying with Paul, a friend I met from last year, who has a unique perspective on things. He was not raised in the church and did not have the most pleasant of lives growing up. However, Jesus found him and brought him to St. Luke’s just like he brought us here. He is one of the most honest people I know. He talks about how he feels and openly admits when he is wrong. That is not something that is found today, an open transparency.

As we were walking our customary 45 minutes to the church last week, we began to talk about the people here in Newcastle. For those who do not know, Newcastle was rated the third in most popular European nightlife destinations only beaten out by London and Berlin and 7th in the world category. In other words, Newcastle is a huge party city. The funny thing is that for the “normal” person, being out in the daytime, you may never know this. However, the nighttime, especially weekends, is when the craziness begins.

As Paul and I began to talk, we discussed the different masks that people choose to put on and how it is evident here. He mentioned how a lot of his friends all looked nice and began to dress in the same stylish manner and how they would give other people a hard time. I remarked how that had never been a big deal to me. It was easy to see how some people have so many faces that they put on for other people, they may not even know who they are any more, or perhaps they do not like who they really are so they use masks to fit in. We suggested some of the false faces people put on, one for work and school, one for friends and partying, one for church, one for looking good and one for relaxing… There are an infinity of masks that people will put on and there are a plethora of reasons why they may put these on. I think it comes down to one basic reason. Fear! We are often afraid to let people know who we really are. Will they like us? Will they judge us? Will they hurt us? Will they accept us? Will they be open with us or give us a cold mask of superiority?

I have found that some of the best masks can be found in the church. We like to present ourselves perfect, even though we all know that we are not. We dress nice, act our best, and are on our best behavior. Often, those who have not come to Christ yet, come in hurting and see all these perfect plastic people and decide they can never be a part of this perfection. Sometimes, our masks are so good we almost begin to believe them. Outsiders coming in would never believe that the church is made up of hurting broken people and so they often do not feel welcome there. We are afraid that others will judge us and who we really are if we let them know we are broken. Why is this, because we judge the imperfections in others. I know for me, this was one of the sins I struggled with for so long. I could look at someone and see myself as better than them even though I was struggling with my own stuff. God led me through a place where I did a lot of work with young people in the prison system and people of all walks of life and this helped me to learn to be real, honest and transparent.

I want to encourage you to be yourself. Be real, honest and transparent. The church should be where we get together as transparent people and reveal Christ shining through all of our situations and failings. People should feel more welcome in the church than anywhere else in the world. We show the love of Christ to all who are caught up in the ways of the world, because we too were ones such as this. And even now, when we know the Truth, we do not follow Him as we should. We fail! How much more can we expect those who do not know the Truth to walk like they do? You are accepted by God who will never hurt you. You are free to be yourself. I am not perfect at this, but I am learning more and more how to be my own strange self.

Final story – Yesterday, we went out to celebrate our three month anniversary (you would be celebrating too if you were me and had such an awesome wife!!!). We decided to see a movie, and as we were buying tickets, I was having fun being myself. The guy asked me if I was a student or had anything that would discount the tickets. I was just messing with him and said “No, we are foreigners though. That should be worth something. Or you could give me the redhead discount.” He also happened to be a Ginger so I guess he thought it was funny or something. Anyway, I realized that after I had bought the tickets, he had given us a student discount, which was actually quite a big one. I had not actually been trying to get a discount, but was just being myself and got blessed.

Just remember, God made you. He accepts you, no matter how strange you might be (believe me, I know from experience). He loves you and will never leave you alone or love you less. Who else’s opinion matters?

Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!