As a body of believers, we begin the year with a 21-day fast. If you text the word FAST to 52525, we’ll lead you into some options (juice fast, Daniel fast with fruits and vegetables, or something non-food related), daily devotionals to help you to set aside a season to devote yourself to the Lord. You’ll slow down with less energy, but as you wait on Him, He will transform and fill you. The fast is not for us to impress God with our religious acts, but to submit and depend upon Him.
As you wait on Him, He will transform and fill you. The fast is not for us to impress God with our religious acts, but to submit and depend upon Him.
In John 17, as Jesus is about to be arrested and crucified on a cross for the sins of humanity, He prays intimately to the Father. He prays for His own relationship with the Father, for His disciples, and into the future for you and me and all who would one day believe in Him.
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:1-23
God is a God of miracles. Pastor Mickey shared that his wife recently tore a ligament away from the bone in her shoulder. She had an immobilizing sling, surgery, a painful recovery, and physical therapy, and after nine months, her mobility remained very limited and painful. Her surgeon explained that her options were to undergo another surgery, experience a miracle, or live with the limitation and pain. She did not want to live with the pain, so an additional surgery was scheduled, and in the meantime, her family and friends laid hands on her and prayed for healing. At one point after a Bible study that Mickey’s daughter had held in their home, one of the young men from the Rock School of Ministry -- who knew that God could perform miracles -- asked if there was someone present who had a shoulder injury because he had experienced a lot of unexplained shoulder pain after entering the house and during the study. Mickey’s wife’s pain was revealed and the group gathered around and laid hands on her to pray for healing. Afterward, the pain and limitation remained, so they prayed again that she would be healed in Jesus’ name. After this prayer, she lifted her arms all the way above her head and was healed! The physical therapist, who had kept meticulous records to measure the limited range of motion she had for months, was stunned to see the sudden change. The surgeon’s office wanted to know why she was opting to cancel her surgery. Her answer resounded, “Because Jesus Christ is alive and has the power to heal, and I am proof of it!”
God has blessings for you and they are not based on how good you are, how much you know, or how religious you are, but on His goodness and love. He loves each of you, He makes wonderful promises to you in His Word, and his Word is true and faithful.
Fasting is not about what we do for God, but about providing space for God to move in us and do wondrous things. As we enter into this 21-day fasting opportunity for Jesus to work in our hearts, let’s pray that we would follow the example Jesus sets for us in His prayerful words above. In times of prayer and fasting, we may grow weaker or slower, but we can attend more closely for God to be glorified in our lives.
Jesus’ dynamic prayer reveals a loving relationship between Father and Son and appeals for us, that we can experience oneness and acceptance with God.
When Mickey entered the hospital room to meet his daughter and her newly delivered first child, he said to her, “You’ve had no idea that this kind of love existed until now. This is the love that your mother and I have always had for you, but I could never fully explain it until now when you are experiencing it for yourself.” As with the earthly father and child, our heavenly Father has an inexplicable love for His children. The Scriptures reveal God’s love for you across the chapters in many different ways. This love finds its culmination in the giving of His only Son, that you can be reconciled to Him and experience oneness with Him. The Word testifies to God’s love, but the Bible tells us that one day you will see Him face to face. You will finally really know Him and be known, and He will wipe away the pain and sorrow of your life.
The coming season of fasting is for you to pause, ponder, reflect on your life, and surrender to Him.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’”
Isaiah 58: 4-9
When Jesus was born, it was announced that His name would be Emmanuel, God with Us. God with us does not delight in duty, obligation, and ritual, but in a humble and tender heart that is surrendered to Him. With a surrendered heart, we are renewed in the strength of God’s promises.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
God answers prayer, and there is a great benefit to life with Him! And yet the point of our fasting is that Jesus Himself will be glorified.
God so delights in you and loves you! This is evident in Jesus’ prayer for you over 2000 years ago. He prayed that you would enter in and discover this great love, beauty, wonder, and majesty of knowing acceptance and intimacy with God! You are invited and encouraged to enter into this season of fasting along with the church, that you may lay a foundation for your future.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)