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Chapter 20: Learning When to Fast

Daniel 9: 3 (ESV) “Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.”

Main Idea

Fasting helps enable a follower of Christ to become closer and more connected with his/her Creator. Fasting also restricts the desires of the body in order to focus our energy on God.

My Story

I recently had to make a hard decision that would impact the lives of several people. God called me to fast from television, social media, and do day fasts from food. This fast aided me to pray more fervently and discover God’s will in a situation. God’s words resonated more clearly in the silence.

Discussion

Though the Bible primarily discusses fasting in terms of food, it also implies fasting in other areas of life. The point of fasting is to give up something in order to use that energy focusing on God and listening to him. Fasting is a crucial part of the process of becoming a stronger follower of Christ. When we fast, we can break through barriers and take down strong holds that have been built up as a hindrance between God and his people. We are called by God to fast, in order for God to say something to us that requires undivided attention.

Challenge

The first step in fasting is to listen to God to know when and from what to fast. When he tells you to fast, do so immediately. Remember, fasting is meant to be challenging, but at the same time peaceful and relaxing. Make sure to spend time with God using the extra opportunities created by the fast. Focus completely on God whenever you feel the deprivations of your fast and listen to His still, small voice.

 

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Chapter 15: Realizing the Struggle of Prayer

Isaiah 30:15: “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it” (NIV).

Main Idea

One of the truly beautiful things about Christianity is intimate prayer with Jesus Christ. But prayer should be focused and centered on the living presence of God. A key difficulty many Christ followers struggle with is quieting their minds in prayer. But when we can, we form an unbreakable, cherished bond with God.

Story

We all receive up to 3500 sensory stimuli a day. With wireless and technological advances, we are bombarded with so many messages, we can easily overload. One of my greatest assets in working with children is my ability to do twenty things at once. I can talk to a co-worker, do my daily paperwork, treat my clients, all while arranging travel itineraries to yet another conference. Being an ADHD individual, my mind is at its best going twenty different directions. But when I sit down to pray, this “asset” becomes my greatest weakness. I can’t let go of the five loads of laundry demanding my attention in order to listen to the still small voice that God uses to speak to me. I find my most excellent rest in the small hours of the morning after I have exercised and before everyone is awake and the distractions are at a minimum. Only then do I stop and feel God’s beating heart, and we are one. I find peace and intimacy with the One who created me, the One who molded my personality. From this experience, I can say that in my weakness, God gives me rest.

Discussion

As a Christian grows in Christ, her status evolves from acquaintance to friendship to a deep relationship. But this only happens through prayer. Prayer is what binds our hearts and minds to the spiritual world, yet keeps us in the physical world. Therefore, it is crucial for every Christ-follower to devote time and effort in prayer.

Challenge

Every day, morning and night, give a certain amount of time to God, just praying. Focus your mind completely on Him. That may sound easy, but it is not. But with persistence, faith, determination, and the mighty power of God, you will overcome the barrier of distraction. It will not be a fight anymore, but only a pure joy to speak to the Author of your story, the Finisher of your faith, the King of your soul.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Chapter 10: Achieving Victories You Never Thought Were Possible

Matthew 18:20 “For when two or three are assembled in my name, I am there in their midst” (NET Bible).

Main Idea

In this journey we call life, we are all faced with decisions—some more difficult than others. But it is the intercession of the Holy Spirit through other fellow Christians’ prayers that make the answers clear.

My Story

I remember times when the circumstances of being a mother seemed very much beyond my control. They burdened my heart and caused great sadness that overwhelmed me; I saw no simple answer. My children were in some difficult situations that I could not parent them through. I saw my role as a mother undermined and feared I would fail without help.

I have several friends with whom I have met for twenty years. They are lovely women who have undergone many of the same trials I have. We consider ourselves a prayer and accountability group. I can share my innermost thoughts and fears with them. We prayed over each situation regarding my children. God worked through them to bring peace to my troubled heart. After that, I only had to trust God, and wait to see what would happen.

Each dire state of affairs was transformed into blessings by God. These experiences were so far beyond my control. But it was the common voicing of my needs and the needs of my friends that worked these miracles in my life. I would not be who I am today without these women. God has truly blessed me and I am ever so grateful to them and their giving hearts.

Discussion

Having the agreement of other hearts in prayer in one’s life can lead to deeper connections with God and his people on a human and spiritual level. The intercessory work of fellow believers creates a blessing and should be valued at each opportunity.

Challenge

  1. Ask God to bless you with a prayer partner, a person with whom you can pray and share your thoughts. This friendship can infuse spiritual knowledge into your life that is more than the power of your own prayers. If you are married, try to initiate this connection with your spouse. This could strengthen your relationship with one another and with God.
  2. From your rising to your setting, make prayer the first and last action of your day. Prayer can change anything, so try to find different times during the day to pray alone and with others. This will connect you with God at spontaneous moments and draw you closer to your fellow Christians.

(Adapted from A Journey to Victorious Praying by Bill Thrasher, Moody Publishers, 2003)

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2012 in Book Study, Prayer

 

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Chapter 5: Experiencing the Spirit’s Motivation in Prayer

Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.” (NET Bible)

Main Idea

In Ephesians 6:18 and Jude 20, God teaches us to “pray in the Holy Spirit.” Jesus called the Holy Spirit a “helper,” the support in our weakness whose help we can lean on as we pray. The Holy Spirit makes prayer a reality in the believer’s life and everyday situations. We trust the Spirit of God who produces in us a Christ-like fervency and compassion.

The Holy Spirit motivates us to pray with zealous striving and agonizing.

My Story

A few years ago, I had a conflict with someone very dear to me and the situation was too close to be seen objectively. Every time I tried to pray, I became angry and bitter and couldn’t speak the words that God would have wanted me to say. But my intense feelings made me submit before God. The Holy Spirit created within me an emotional cry that was not an eloquent plea for this person’s soul, but an impassioned voice that cried out to God for mercy on their behalf. The Holy Spirit interceded before the throne for this person in a way I couldn’t feel at that time and that I never could have expressed. All I had to do was surrender to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and humble myself before God, even if my heart was not in it.

Discussion

How do we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to speak for us?

Challenge

First Step: We respond to the Holy Spirit as he reveals the needs in our lives and of those around us.

Second Step: We acknowledge our inability to accomplish any of this without God: “We must realize that we cannot change our own hearts or the heart of another person.”

Third Step: Let this become our continual attitude and depend on the Holy Spirit to renew us as we confess and take on our spiritual responsibilities which are far too much for our own strength. Real spiritual emotion and compassion is the product of the Holy Spirit. We depend on the Holy Spirit of God for our motivation in prayer.

(Adapted from A Journey to Victorious Praying by Bill Thrasher, Moody Publishers, 2003)

Let us know your thoughts. And don’t forget to journal!

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in Book Study, Prayer

 

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