2020 was a rough year for everyone. We never know what to expect as we enter into a new year, but I’m hopeful that things will improve in 2021. For many, 2020 was a year that was characterized by frustration, loss, and isolation. We know that God created us to live in Christian community, and my hope and prayer is that we grow together this year.
In our last message on December 27th, I urged you to pick a word for 2021. For me, that word is intentional. I want to be intentional about growing closer to God and others. To start out 2021, we are joining together in 21 days of prayer and fasting. I will explain more about it this Sunday, but I wanted to provide you some resources to get a head start.
We are going to focus on 3 things together
- Reading Scripture
When we open up the Bible, we’re inviting the creator of the universe to speak directly to us. It’s our connection to His truth—the story of His love for us since the beginning of time. And it’s meant to be woven throughout our lives, giving us new wisdom with each season we experience.
Our prayer focus for the first week is the church. Here’s more from our guide.
WEEK ONE: HEART FOR THE HOUSE
We believe our local church has an incredible opportunity to reach and serve our community. As we begin this new year, and move toward Easter, take time to pray for our congregation. Pray that we would be a place of love. Pray that no hypocrisy would slip into our church family. This is also an important time to pray over the church’s resources. Pray that this new year would see financial stability and growth. We must all learn to be good stewards of the time, money, and resources that God has given us. We do all of this for his kingdom and his kingdom alone!
I encourage you to set aside at least three times of focused prayer each day. Pray in the morning, once during the day, and at night. And continue your prayers throughout your day just talking with God.
Biblical fasting involves abstaining from eating (and/or drinking) for spiritual purposes. FASTING IS DESIGNED TO INTENSIFY OUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD BY WEAKENING OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOOD AND OTHER THINGS.
Fasting reveals and heals our dependence on food (and other things) to fill the discomfort caused by low self-esteem, unfulfilling work, unloving relationships, uncontrollable circumstances, etc. It removes the false peace derived from the pleasure of eating. Richard Foster, in His Classic Celebration of Discipline, says, “More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately. David writes, “I humbled my soul with fasting” (Psalm 69: 10). Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear- if they are within us, they will surface during fasting.”
To learn more about the different types of fasts, please download our guide for our sermon series.
Starting the New Year Right
Let’s start the new year right by deepening our relationship with God. Here’s one final tip. If you want to learn more about developing Godly habits, check out the book Win the Day by Pastor Mark Batterson. I’m reading it now and it’s helping me restructure my daily routine to focus on God.