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21 Days of Prayer and fasting
DAY 1 - ENROLL IN THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER
By Pastor Jonathan Bonar
Luke 11:1 (NKJV)
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, [that] one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray..."
As we embark on this journey of prayer and fasting, it is profound to see the importance placed on prayer by Jesus and His disciples. The only thing we have recorded which His disciples ask Him to teach them is how to pray like Him. They watched Jesus repeatedly and often, during very stressful, busy days, remove Himself from all the noise and pressure...and simply...talk to His Heavenly Father.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. - Mark 1:35
In everything recorded in Scripture, the disciples never asked Him to teach them how to preach…only how to pray. This means something! This raises the importance of prayer to such a high priority in our lives. Influence with God the Father is worth so much more than influence with people.
Enroll yourself, over these 21 days, in a school of prayer. Approach this season as a student, ready and eager to learn at the foot of our Rabbi. And like our Rabbi, commit to remove yourself from the busyness and stress of this earthly life to approach Heaven's throne every day. Notice as you approach it, Jesus is still involved in this precious discipline of prayer.
...Christ Jesus who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. - Romans 8:34
If Jesus valued prayer so much and, even still to this day, is so involved in prayer, why do we limit this activity so much in our life? Why do we so often only pray out of obligation before we eat a meal or when we are with others at Church or Bible Study? Let's make prayer a priority over these 21 days. Let's remove ourselves from the distractions of this life and make room for God in our day. Let's lean into God like never before in our lives, with authentic expectation. Before we ask God to change our world, let's ask Him to change our heart. Welcome to the School of Prayer. "Lord, teach us to pray!"
What things limit or hinder your time spent in prayer?
How can you overcome these limitations or hinderances over the next three weeks?
As Jesus regularly and often spent time in prayer, what time will you intentionally spend in prayer every day?
DAY 2 - JESUS MODEL OF PRAYER
By Sarah Velotta
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
There’s no greater model of a strong prayer life than that of Jesus. Scripture tells us that He spent a great amount of time in prayer. He models an example of a really long prayer in the Bible and an example of quite simple, brief prayers. We’re also told that he would rise early in the morning to start His day with prayer and would stay up late at night to talk to His Father. In the nine words that form Luke 5:16 (NIV), we learn a lot about Jesus’ prayer life:
He prayed often. He wasn’t a one-and-done guy. I imagine that during his time on Earth, he had a constant, open-ended conversation with God.
He withdrew. In His main three years of ministry, He had quite a following. People wanted to meet this man called The Messiah, who healed physical, mental, and spiritual illnesses. He was a busy man who caught the attention of many as He traveled around. But He withdrew away from the crowds, away from the noise, away from the work, and away from the distractions.
His escape was to lonely places. The King James version of this verse says He withdrew to “the wilderness.” Other versions say he went to “desolate places.” We get the picture, right? Jesus went to be alone. His quiet time was real quiet.
Many of us get in the habit of withdrawing for a quiet appointment. We have a routine of meeting with Jesus in the morning for a time of prayer and Bible study, or we crack open The Word before bed and then fall asleep to the rhythm of our nightly prayer. Then there’s the prayer before meals that sometimes feels more obligatory than worshipful. But Jesus shows us that authentic prayer isn’t just what happens during our scheduled quiet times or during the predictable times when we say a blessing over our food. There’s nothing wrong with prayers during those times, but I don’t know that they would be considered often.
What if we left the line of communication open? What if we dismissed ourselves from the chaos of life, and mentally withdrew to chat with Him when we faced something stressful in our day, or something hurtful, or something beautiful, or something exciting? How would our stress level and anxiety look different if we had a conversation with Him often- throughout the day? I’m pretty sure it would come with a “peace that passes all understanding” kind of guarantee, and I know it would strengthen our relationship with Him. Get started today and be prepared for God to move in your life!
How can I convert your stress into conversation with God today?
What steps do I need to take to dismiss yourself from chaos to enjoy time with God?
Do I need to go to a specific location to increase solitude and peace? If yes, where will that be?
DAY 3 - LIGHT VS. DARKNESS
by Vickie Lambert
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
Have you ever suffered a power outage after a powerful storm has left you with no electrical power? Were you prepared? Candles, flashlights or perhaps even a generator? As daylight gave way to darkness, I looked into the night sky and my eyes were immediately drawn to the lighted areas. What a big difference even a little light in the darkness makes.
Light versus darkness – what a contrast! The parable of the ten virgins tells a similar story: God’s light versus spiritual darkness. In biblical times, Jewish weddings were held after nightfall and the bridesmaids carried lamps through the streets to light the way of the guests to the bridegroom’s house. In this parable, we see that for some reason the bridegroom was delayed so long that guests fell asleep while waiting for him. Five of the virgins (bridesmaids) anticipated the long wait and brought extra lamp oil. The others who didn’t ended up being locked out of the wedding banquet.0
We too, all fall into one of these groups: those ready to meet Jesus and those who aren’t. The prepared have chosen Jesus Christ as Lord and strive to live by His commandments. The unprepared don’t see a need for Christ Jesus in their lives, or eternity and therefore, cannot be included in the celebration banquet. Everyone receives an invitation but you must choose to RSVP.
Have you ever prayed to accept the invitation that Jesus extends to you?
If not, will you pray the prayer below or pray that God would remove whatever holds you back?
While waiting for His arrival, will you commit to being prepared by spending time daily in prayer and in His word?
Is there someone you know who needs to accept this invitation…invite them to Easter services with you.
Prayer of Salvation:
I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness.
I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died
for my sin and that you raised Him to life.
I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord,
from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will.
I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.”
DAY 4 - BOTHER ME
By Logan Lamb
Remember when you were a kid and you used to bother your parents incessantly over something? As you would sound off like a broken record your parents would eventually get tired of your antics and shush you one way or another.
I guess in hindsight I really didn’t need that pack of Pokémon cards but I really wanted it and I was going to stop at nothing to get it.
You know what’s amazing about our relationship with God? It’s the fact that He will stop at nothing to get to us. One of the ways that He pursues us is His open availability to us.
Isaiah 62:6-7 is an incredible reminder to us that God is available and wants us to call out to Him.
Read Isaiah 62:6-7
I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.
God is saying to us through Isaiah the prophet, BOTHER ME! God says, "when you call on me, when you pray to me, don't rest, don't stop, pray relentlessly, better yet, don't let me rest! Please, I beg you to get on my nerves!
Your mom and Dad when you were growing up might have said, “If you don't stop asking me you're gonna be in big trouble." God looks at us and says if you STOP asking me then you'll probably be in big trouble!" “So you better keep asking, you better keep bothering me! I love it when you dive me crazy with your relentless prayer!"
That's what a good father does. I hope and pray that I am never too busy to be bothered by my kids. Because God, in His infinite glory even as He maintains the Heavens and the Earth and makes them sing is not too busy for you and I.
I hope and pray that I never say "not now son, I'm working." God never says that to me, God says "Bother me son, bother me daughter, I love it, because I love you and you're more important than anything!"
Isn't that awesome?! So what is our response to this? How do we bother God? We pray relentlessly.
To live like Jesus we must pray relentlessly like Jesus. Prayer in scripture is obviously not exclusive to Jesus, in fact it's a pretty big deal throughout the Bible. There are about 650 specific prayers mentioned in the Bible and that's not even mentioning the times the Bible simply talks about and speaks of prayer. So it's clearly a big deal.
The fact that we must clearly understand today is that God loves us and He loves us so deeply that He wants us to be in communication with Him constantly. Are you hurting? Are you struggling? Do you feel lost? Do you feel bound by the weight of your sin? If so it’s ok, but don’t stay that way. Run to Jesus! Speak with Him, don’t neglect Him, bother Him! He will not force His way into your life but He invites you to constant communication with Him. That’s what He wants! Because He wants you. Next week we will specifically look at how Jesus prayed relentlessly and how even though He was God, he didn’t let that title keep Him from bothering His Heavenly Father with relentless prayer.
In what ways am I hurting or struggling, feeling lost or bound by sin?
How can I take this to Jesus today in prayer?
How can I practice more constant communication with Jesus today?
DAY 5 - OPENING OUR HEARTS TO GOD
By Lenae Bell
But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
After Jesus was buried, a group of ladies gathered spices and all the things they needed to take care of the man they loved so much and served. I imagine as they made their way to the tomb that day, they came with heavy hearts, expecting to show respect and reverence one last time. Possibly, they were even worrying about how they would accomplish this task with the stone in covering the entrance and with the guards. When they arrived though, they saw something they never expected-an empty tomb. No, it was not what they had expected at all. It was not what they had planned for. It was so much better! It was a sign of eternal life, and victory over death and sin!
As I read this verse I thought of how often I plan and prepare and it is not what I had expected whether it be a flop because I failed to focus on God’s plan or it exceeded because God was given room to move. Sometimes the phrase “God showed up” is used, but that makes me cringe. Is it that God decided to show up or more likely we decided to let him in and acknowledged his presence?
By now I’m sure you have heard about the revival that started at Asbury University February 8,2023. It started as just any regular chapel service would but once it ended several students stayed behind to pray for one another and it didn’t stop for over two weeks. Thousands of people came to experience this major spiritual revival.
It all started out of a “regular” chapel service? A service where people opened their hearts to God and listened when he spoke. Obeyed when he said stay and continue. I pray as we approach this Easter season that we let go of all that holds us back from all that God is waiting to pour out on us. Pray that God opens our eyes to anything that is preventing us from being right in the center of his will.
What has historically held me back from all that God has for me?
Is there an area of my life in which I need to let God in?
Is there anything I need to confess today that is preventing me from being in the center of His will?
DAY 6 - AWAKEN THE DAWN
by David Rodgers
Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.
I will forever remember my first morning deer hunt with my father. The early alarm clock, the dark drive to the farm, the pre-dawn journey to the stand, the cold, the silence, the excitement, and the eager anticipation of what was to come as we waited for legal shooting light.
To this day, that part of hunting is perhaps the most serene moment and one of my favorites. To slip into the outdoors, as undetected as possible, under the cover of darkness. You prepare by eliminating smells and sounds, learning the routes in and out of the woods, checking the wind, studying the wildlife, and taking in every detail to become nearly invisible. To sit in the dark and wait for the light is a beautiful thing. You know it’s coming. The signs all around you testify to it. The temperature begins to shift. The wind starts to rustle leaves. The crickets and frogs begin to make noise. The birds begin to sing. The woods come to life, and you get to witness an awakening that God orchestrates every morning… all while the outdoors nearly forgets you’re even there.
The psalmist David had a routine that many hunters can relate to. He arose early in the morning, before nature even woke up, and made a priority of worship and prayer. It was when his mind was alert and uncluttered with the business of the day. He sought guidance from the Lord for whatever lies ahead for that day.
“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and eagerly watch.
Before even the sun arose, David was making time with the Father a priority and setting apart the day for the Father’s purposes. He was seeking FIRST the kingdom of God. As Matthew 6:33 tells us “…seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” David pursued the righteousness of God above all things so much so that he is known as being a man after God’s own heart. David's early morning attitude of “eagerly watching” is worthy of noting. What was he watching for? He was watching for what he knew was beyond what he could even fathom. He was watching for God to fulfill His divine purposes. He was aligning his heart with the Father’s to be used by Him. We too can pray with eager anticipation for what is to come. We have absolute confidence that God will answer us not because of our worthiness, the eloquence of our speech, or how much Scripture we quote during prayer, but because of who God is.
I encourage you to make time with God a priority. Let us “awaken the dawn” if necessary and eagerly watch as He faithfully accomplishes more than we can even imagine.
How can I make my time with God a higher priority?
Is there anything in my life that is more important than God?
Am I eagerly expecting God to accomplish great things?
DAY 7 - POWER IN THE TOWER
By Jonathan Bonar
Habakkuk 2:1-4 (ESV)
I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the LORD answered me: "Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end--it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay… but the righteous shall live by his faith.
Some influencers are so well-known, they are identified by one name…they need no clarifying information to help people know who they are…Oprah, Trump, Obama or Selena. Habakkuk seems to be such a well-known prophet that the book needs no information to clarify who he is. He lived in a season of great unrest with major wars between brutal superpowers and evil seeming to overtake good…and he brings his concerns to the Lord. He uses powerful imagery to describe how He relates to God…
As a spiritual leader of his people, Israel, he assumes a position at a watchpost on a tower. He is not really a guard in a tower, but a prophet seeking answers from God, yet this imagery gives us tremendous insight…
The Prayer Tower is where we separate from the world around us to hear from God. We must get above the noise and confusion in the city to get perspective and hear God. Think of your fast as the staircase leading to the tower post where you can hear from God. We are saying no to things that most easily distract us so that we can get perspective and hear what God has to say about the issues of our lives.
The Prayer Tower is where we gain perspective to lead. As leaders in our church, community, school or family, we must be closer to God than those we lead…or we shouldn’t be leading. We must intentionally take our assigned post on guard for our family, our friends, our community, our church. It is in the tower, where we find a better perspective, a better outlook, to see what is happening in the world and in our life…to see the enemy and his schemes even if far away.
The Prayer Tower is where we read God’s Word and take note of what God is saying to us for our lives. God gives us our vision for our lives and those we lead. Habakkuk was told to write down the vision on tablets so others could be blessed. The Bible is our authority and vision God gives us for our lives…we can take it and run with it…run our lives with it. But also, we should be intentional to preserve what God says to us as we meet with Him over this season. Consider keeping a journal to record what God is impressing upon you…so that in the future, you or others could be blessed and run with it too.
The Prayer Tower is where you build your faith for everyday life. Lastly, notice that God wants Habakkuk to remind us that sometimes His vision for your life is delayed or it takes longer than you may expect to receive the help you are seeking…this is what faith is for. And here Habakkuk makes a legendary statement which is quoted multiple times in critical places by the New Testament authors…”the just shall live by faith.” We are not saved by being good or doing the right things…we are saved by believing and trusting in Jesus. The Prayer Tower is where you build the faith to endure the present trials and feed your faith in a God who will have the final say.
This life of faith begins with trusting in Jesus as your personal Savior…believing that He died on the cross to pay for your sins, as the Bible says, and believing that He rose again from the dead as the victorious conqueror of sin and death…the Son of God. If you have not trusted Christ as your Savior, maybe you need to take the first step up into the tower. Pray to him and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, repenting of your sins and accepting his free gift of salvation through faith.
For your prayer time today…
Maybe you trusted Christ in the past but have left your guard post empty too often…build a habit over these 21 days of taking your place every day in the tower and spending time reading Scripture and praying. Even when someone hurts you or life doesn’t go your way…keep climbing the steps and take your place in the tower…because that is where the power for life is.
Commit to spend time with God everyday and attend church each Sunday during these 21 days. There is power in the tower! Ask God to reveal Himself like never before to you and give you perspective for the problems in your life and the people you lead or influence. Lastly, consider recording what God says to you during this season by keeping a prayer journal.
DAY 8 - OVERWHELMED
By Jarrod Carter
Matthew 26:38-39 NIV
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
We have all been overwhelmed at some point in our lives. It is a very uncomfortable feeling that may include anxiety, anger or doubt. It can be triggered by hardship or an unexpected event. It could even be several small things built up in a short amount of time like getting your family ready on Sunday morning and out the door to be on time for church. At some point in our life, we will experience being overwhelmed. Even though the causes of how we became overwhelmed may differ, rest assured, we can follow Jesus’ example to overcome it.
The passage takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew it was time for Him to be taken away to be crucified. Jesus states “My soul is overwhelmed” to His disciples just before He goes off to pray. Under the enormous pressure of taking upon all the sins of man, Jesus prayed. He felt the urgency to spend time with His Father to fully surrender His burden to the will of the Father. May we follow Jesus’ example when we are overwhelmed and feel the sense of urgency to spend time in prayer with the Father.
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Take a minute to identify what it is that causes you to feel overwhelmed at times.
How can you surrender these things to will of your Heavenly Father? Spend some time surrendering your life to Him…especially the parts that overwhelm you.
DAY 9 - HE IS NEAR
by Sara Schroader
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
In this beautiful song of praise to God, David gushes about the LORD’s greatness, majesty and wonderous works. His graciousness, compassion and mercy are praised again and again. We read through the chapter and know that God is magnificent and worthy of all praise.
Then in verse 18 he tells us it is this God who is near to all who call on Him.
What does that mean? In the Greek this word “near” simply means near. The same word is also translated “kinsmen” at least three times in other scripture passages.
Can you see it? He is right next to us when we call upon Him! He is family, living in close quarters. He is NEAR.
We can cry out to Him in complete truth (He knows it anyway), and we know that He hears us. When we revere Him we can trust Him with our desires, because He is right next to us waiting to fulfil them. He will hear us. He will save us.
He is NEAR.
Would you pray differently if Jesus was sitting right next to you?
What would you say differently to Him? Would you spend more time thanking Him or praising Him for who He is and what He has done for you?
You are not alone. How does knowing He is near like family change the way you trust Him?
How can you practice His presence as you pray today? Does it feel less like an obligation or an item on your daily checklist?
DAY 10 - ALL-NIGHTER
By Logan Lamb
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
Have you ever pulled an all-nighter before? You know, when you stay up all night and choose not to sleep at all for whatever terribly irresponsible reason. I know I’m not the only one. I’ve pulled a few all nighters in my life. Spending the night at a friends house when I was a teenager or staying up all night cramming for that college test I forgot about? The infamous all nighter, we’ve all probably done it at least once for some reason!
In Luke 6:12 we see Jesus Himself pull one of those all nighters, and the reasoning for His all nighter honestly blows me away.
Jesus went up a mountain, found a nice secluded area where he could focus, and prayed to God the Father all night long. This is so shocking to me because if there’s anyone that DOES NOT need to pray all night long, it’d be Jesus right? Truthfully, considering his equality with God, wouldn’t it make sense if Jesus just never had to actually pray? I mean Him and God are one after all, are they not? Yet the one that did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, prayed all night long before an important decision He had coming the next day.
Jesus, even though he was God, understood exactly what it meant to bother God the Father and pray relentlessly. When I think about this I cannot help but ask myself, “how much more then should I be praying?” If Jesus, the one who has been an always will be the most connected to God the Father prayed relentlessly here on this earth, how much more should I be intently and intentionally focused on prayer?
The amazing truth is, this was not a one time thing for Jesus. Throughout the gospels we see that Jesus was in prayer almost constantly. He took “pray without ceasing” from 1 Thessalonians quite literally! Jesus is shown praying alone, in public, before meals, after meals, before important decisions, before healing, after healing, he also taught on prayer many specific times.
Jesus’s disciples were so in awe of Jesus’s transformational prayer life when given the option to ask Jesus what to teach them, out of all the incredible things Jesus could likely have taught them, they asked him about prayer. Jesus’s prayer life was so life altering that the disciples wanted the connection that Jesus had with his Heavenly Father. Do we want that same type of deep connection? I’m not suggesting you pull an all nighter in prayer (although if you do pull an all-night prayer fest, I’m sure it won’t hurt) but I am suggesting that if you want to see real transformation in your life, a more focused prayer life seems to be pretty Jesus approved.
How do you get distracted during your prayer time? What things cause you to be distracted?
How can you limit those distractions?
How can you increase your prayer time if just a little? How can you mimic Jesus and become more relentless in prayer today…even if just for one day?
DAY 11 - TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
by Vickie Lambert
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my followers, you must put aside your selfish ambitions, shoulder your cross, and follow me.
When Jesus asks who the people say he is, Peter replies that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus tells of his impending death and Peter takes him aside and tells him not to say things like that. Jesus then sternly rebuked Peter. He teaches the disciples and the crowds that if anyone wants to be His follower, they must put aside personal ambition, shoulder their cross and follow Him. The Bible is clear that anyone who tries to keep his or her life will most certainly lose it. It is only by giving up one’s life for Jesus’s sake can one find true life.
How gracious of God to clearly define the full cost of following Jesus. We can’t earn it or buy it; it is free – a daily choice to surrender ourselves for something far greater with eternal consequences. The cost of following Jesus requires us to put aside our plans, our desires and submit to Him and His plans. We know this as the “cross for believers”. It is the place where our desires, plans and will for ourselves intersect with God’s desires, plans and will for us. We must commit to put down our will and pick up God’s plan. This is the cost of being a follower of Christ.
Will you prayerfully ask God to show you what you need to change or surrender to come into alignment with His perfect plan for your life?
Who will you pray for this week that they may choose God and His plan for their life?
DAY 12 - OUR EYES ARE ON YOU
by David Rodgers
2 Chronicles 20:12
“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chronicles 20 is one of my favorite worship passages in scripture. We see a king, terrified of the looming army that is marching to conquer him and his people. In desperation, a powerful prayer meeting breaks out when it would seem there was nowhere else to turn. While the people pray, God speaks through one of the worship singers, a Levite, giving instructions to the King and reminding the people that the battle is not theirs, but the Lords. (Their desperation for a move of God and their response here is beautiful and inspiring. I encourage you to read all of 2 Chronicles 20.) The worshippers are instructed to lead the army into battle singing praises, not waving swords. The King and his people didn’t even need a shield or weapons, for their weapon was worship. They didn’t even need to raise a sword to achieve victory. They needed only to be faithful in what God had instructed and worship Him while He fulfilled His promise and fought on their behalf.
We could learn from the desperate prayer of the King in this passage. In verse 12 he declares that “We are powerless and hopeless without you, but our eyes are fixed on you.” May THAT be our prayer! When it comes to life, when it comes to marriage, and parenting, and family, when it comes to church… What do I do, God? What do I do? I need wisdom. I need help. I feel overwhelmed.
I believe there’s a divine purpose when we feel overwhelmed like this. When we realize who we are and who God is our perspective shifts to trust a God that is greater and knows no defeat. We are powerless. We can do nothing without God, but that’s the beauty of this passage, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
We are trusting you God. When we don’t know what to do. We don’t know where to turn. We don’t know how we’re going to get out of this, get through this… we trust you. May our eyes be fixed on Him, trusting His promises, presence, power, and provision. It’s in that prayer of faith, with our eyes fixed on our Father that we find hope, joy, strength, and peace.
In what area of your life today do you need to fix your eyes on your God and trust Him?
How can you keep your eyes on God throughout the entire day today?
In your prayer time today ask yourself…How can I express my desperation for God like the king in verse 12?
DAY 13 - LISTENING
By Lenae Bell
And that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him. For the Lord Is your life.
Listen: to give ones attention to a sound. make an effort to hear something: be alert and ready to hear something
Hear: to perceive with the ear the sound made by someone or something
When I talk to my kids I want them to listen to me, not just hear me. I want them to give their attention to me and then act accordingly. How often do we read our Bibles or sit through a sermon and merely hear? We check our boxes of being at church or reading our Bibles and feel good about ourselves. But, do we act on the things we hear? Do we pause and try to fully understand the meaning of what sits in front of us?
In Children’s Church, we talk about the fact that even Satan believed Jesus was God’s Son and had the power to save the world from sin. It’s what he did with that knowledge that is the problem. He heard, he believed, but he didn’t put it into practice. He doesn’t make Jesus his life like it talks about in the verse above.
I’m not comparing us to Satan, but let us not get caught merely perceiving the words of God, rather, let us give our attention to them. Let our prayer be that God’s word is alive and active in us. That we love the Lord and make Him our life.
How can you listen better as a student of God’s Word? Taking notes during the sermon on Sundays? Discussing the Word of God with your spouse or kids? Do you need to join a Sunday School class where you can discuss Scripture with friends?
What do you perceive God is speaking to you through this season of prayer and fasting?
DAY 14 - WHEN WE DON’T KNOW WHAT TO PRAY
By Sarah Velotta
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
“Jesus… Jesus… Jesus… Jesus.” My grandmother sat in her praying chair, murmuring the name of Jesus over and over. I was a junior in high school and we had just attended my grandfather’s funeral. I was laying down for a nap in her bedroom after a long day of mourning. There are not many love stories greater or stronger than that of my grandma and grandpa. I couldn’t imagine the grief that blanketed her. But being awoken by her in the stillness of her room, hearing the name of Jesus spoken repeatedly caught me as odd. What was she doing?
Fastforward to my adult life. I have found myself in many circumstances when I just didn’t have the words. Moments of fear, sadness, emotional hurt, or extreme stress have brought me to a place of desperation where I simply haven’t known the words to say. So I just say His name, over and over and over again, like Grandma did on that painful day. And you know what happens when I do this? Peace enters in. Comfort shows up. Confidence in God’s promises arises. This is the picture of Romans 8:26 and 27.
Sometimes, we get hung up on the eloquence of the words we pray, or the details we offer up. But fancy words are not needed or even wanted. He just wants us to be real and He knows that, sometimes, all we have to offer is the utterance of His name. The Holy Spirit, our Advocate, offers up what we can’t always put into words. And the best part is, He does it in the most beautiful way… “in accordance with the will of God.”
As I wrote this devotional, the song “Tremble” came to mind.
The lyrics say,
“Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear”
You can listen to the song
by clicking HERE.
DAY 15 - SERVING
By Lenae Bell
12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the king of Israel!" 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15 "Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt." 16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
Feet are gross and quite literally beneath us, but isn’t it just like Jesus to get right down to the bottom of it, to the ugliest, dirtiest of places with love and humility to make us clean?
As the disciples fussed over what position they held, Jesus quietly displayed the position they should be striving for- that of a humble servant. As we go through our daily lives, God calls us to sacrificially serve no matter the recognition or accolade. We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ and lets face it, hands and feet get dirty. “It was not ‘in Spite of’ but ‘because’ of His consciousness of His divine origin and destination.” Tasker Jesus didn’t give the appearance of a servant just for the demonstration, but he completely became the servant. This was a big part of his mission, to serve others.
I ask you, how are you serving?
Of course, we can find so many ways to serve at church and that is so necessary, but do you demonstrate a servant’s attitude at work or when you are out and about?
During this season of prayer and fasting, ask God to give you a heart like that of Jesus and then to provide ways to serve others. Is there something you sense He is calling you to do today?
DAY 16 - EMPATHY
by Brian Snyder
Romans 12:15 NIV
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
We’ve all been there at one time or another. Someone we know has a loved one who has passed away and we want to go pay our respects. So there we are standing in line, waiting our turn to shake hands, hug, and say something to the family. I mean you have to say something right?
So we start thinking of those perfect words to speak into the families lives that are going to magically make everything better. We even eavesdrop to hear what the people in line before us are saying. We can’t be out comforted by someone who doesn’t even know the family! That would be ridiculous.
It’s our turn and we just freeze. Standing there with our mouths open, words just come out. “They are in a better place” or the ever popular “God must have needed them more.” I’ve said something like these myself over and over.
When my Father died in 2012 I heard so many statements like this and it hit me. Words are just words. It’s what you do with them that matter. I didn’t want to hear how God needed my Dad. I needed my Dad and still do 11 years later. I needed someone to recognize that and just say “I have no idea what you must be going through right now and I won’t pretend to know how you must be feeling. Just know I am praying for you.”
God said to mourn with those who mourn. That comes with not only a burden but a responsibility to pray and walk through some pretty rough times with the people we care about. As you pray today, ask God for empathy. More than likely there is someone in your life going through something right now. Praying and petitioning to God on the behalf of others allows us to be open to seeing the needs of people in our lives. You never know the comfort prayer can bring until you are the one who needs it.
Who is placing on your heart today? Spend some of your time praying for them.
After your prayer time, can you take a minute to text them quickly or call them to tell them that you prayed for them today…maybe express some empathy for whatever they are walking through today?
How can you make this a regular part of your prayer time? Weekly? Daily?
DAY 17 - BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING
by Sara Schroader
Phil 4: 6 (NKJV)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Being anxious seems to be our default these days. And as we look around at our nation and our culture there is plenty to be anxious about. What our children encounter every day at school and on social media is enough to make parents worry day and night. With crime, job issues, rising inflation, the cost of housing (and groceries), etc…no wonder people are anxious!
But as is so often the case, God’s Word has an answer that seems impossible. Paul’s letter to the saints at Philippi instructs them, and us, to worry about NOTHING.
What about my son who just got his license?
What about that diagnosis?
The fact that I need a job. Or owe a debt.
Or made a big mistake.
Is verse six telling us to not worry and not do anything because it’s going to be cool? Not at all.
Paul is saying in EVERYTHING…pray. In everything ask God for help. In everything, give thanks. Turning our worries over to an all-powerful God may seem like doing nothing. Trusting His powerful, capable hands is the only way we can be anxious for nothing!
What areas of your life do you tend to be most anxious about?
How can you hand those worries over to the Lord today?
Consider keeping a prayer journal of prayers for things you are anxious about and record how God answers those prayers…wouldn’t it ease your anxiety to look over the years and see how often God takes care of things you worried about?
DAY 18 - LEAVES OF THREE, LET THEM BE!
by David Rodgers
Search me, O God, and know my heart test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Each spring I look forward to spending time hunting turkeys. It’s exhilarating to hear the birds gobble and try to outsmart them. As the woods transform back to their lush green appearance from the dead of winter, there’s always one green plant I’m always watching out for; Poison Ivy.
You see, turkey hunting often requires you to sit on the ground, against the base of a tree or shrub. Last season I found myself in what I considered to be the perfect spot. The birds were roosted nearby, and I’d found the perfect patch of vegetation to camouflage myself and break up my silhouette. I had snuck within close proximity of the turkeys under the cover of darkness and it wasn’t until the light illuminated my surroundings that I realized I had made a terrible error that would ruin my entire season. The light revealed that I had sat myself down in a ginormous patch of poison ivy. Had I simply taken the time to use the flashlight that we in my pocket, this disaster could have been avoided.
I jokingly ask “Why would God make poison ivy?” Well, I’ve learned that there are many animals and bugs that enjoy it as food, yet God decided to make people as the only ones in creation who can have allergic reactions to this wonderful plant.
I’ll tell you what I think. I believe God saw poison ivy as a good part of His creation because he wanted to teach us to keep our hands off of some things. From the very beginning God set limits. Maybe God wanted to teach us to slow down and watch where we sit in the woods. Perhaps we need to learn to eliminate the things that are harmful to us in order to focus on the task ahead of us. Whatever the case may be, this troublesome plant has taught me to use the light to illuminate my own position, to avoid the mishaps that can keep me from experiencing the fullness of what God has in store for me.
Though it’s never enjoyable for me to deal with what is wrong in my own heart, I know that I need to see my sin as God sees it, so that I might turn from my sin to follow the Lord more completely. I must pray what the psalmist prayed,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
How does God reveal our sin? In many ways: through reading scripture, through hearing the Word of God, through the challenging love of friends, and through the conviction of the Holy Spirit. In allowing the Light to illuminate the darkness in me, I am able to more clearly see the dangers that God would want me to avoid. Point out anything in me Lord that offends you, and I will listen to you!
What is God calling you to keep clear of in your life?
Is there anything that is harmful, which you are currently tolerating in your life?
Is there any sin you need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
DAY 19 - MADE HOLY
by Vickie Lambert
For by that one offering He perfected forever all those whom He is making holy.
Hebrews 8-10 is rich reading: it covers God’s new plan with Israel, the old covenant being replaced by the new covenant through the sacrifice of Jesus. After completing the work of salvation, we see Jesus sit down on the throne in heaven. The old covenant is obsolete. Jesus mediates a new covenant between God and people so that all who are invited can accept and receive the eternal inheritance that God promises. Christ died to set them (and us) free from the penalty of the sins they committed. They are made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time. How gracious of God to give every believer perfect standing before Him. Christ has forever wiped the slate clean of a believer’s sins.
We know the sin that resides within us. We suffer guilt and shame over our actions. However, we can rest, knowing that when we accept the work of Christ on our behalf, we are declared right with God and clothed in the righteousness of Jesus, even while God continues the work of making us holy.
As you meet with God today in prayer, will you ask Him to show you the areas in your life where refinement needs to take place?
Will you pray for those who need to accept the free gift of salvation made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus?
How does God’s promise that you have been perfected cause you to pray with a heart full of gratitude?
DAY 20 - The Prayer Priorities of Jesus
By Jonathan Bonar
John 17:11, 20-23 NIV
11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. ... 20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one-- 23 I in them and you in me--so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Many times we talk about Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:9-15 as the Lord’s Prayer, but actually it is not so much His prayer as it is ours. It was meant to be an example prayer for us. For instance, He says in it, “forgive us our debts”...as we forgive others. This is speaking of sins, however we know that Jesus was completely sinless. This wasn’t a prayer He would ever pray, but rather it was a prayer for us to pray.
Our text for today is actually one of His heartfelt prayers recorded for us. Preserved by his closest friends so that we could see into His heart and its almost like eavesdropping on a conversation between two members of the Trinity, the Son of God as He recognizes His earthly years of ministry have come to a close and He is about to be crucified. This is such a precious gift to us…to be able to listen to what He values most and is most concerned about as He prepares to be executed and leave His disciples to return to Heaven. We actually hear Him pray for us in verse 20! And what does He pray to His Father? (drumroll please…that’s right…please drum the table, dashboard or your legs…)
He prays that we will live in unity…a unity so strong it replicates the very relationship He has with the other members of the Trinity…the relationship He is displaying with His Father. He wants us to live together in a harmony so beautiful that it attracts the world around us to Him and His teachings. Notice that He is not concerned with the things we so often prioritize in our churches…
…He doesn’t ask that we have fun activities or events,
…He does’t ask that we have a certain type of worship,
…He doesn’t ask that we have great facilities to worship in,
…He doesn’t mention Church Bylaws or committees.
He does mention unity and harmony…vibrant loving…self-sacrificing relationships with one another. He wants us to resemble the relationship He has with His Father. As He prepares to lay down His life and suffer under pain and take on our sins…He wants us to do the same for each other. To sacrifice our personal agendas, our personal preferences and wishes for the authentic and attractive love and concern this world can’t find anywhere else. In a world that argues and debates, fighting for what they want and oppressing or destroying the weak…we are to be something different.
How often do we value unity? Do we realize that when we gossip about a brother or sister, we are opposed to the very heart of our Savior? When we argue and hurt each other, we actually hurt the very Bride of Jesus. When we post something negative about a church or the church in general, we are posting hurtful things about Jesus’ own Bride, His Church. When we refuse to talk to someone, we are positioning ourselves against the very prayers of our Savior, Jesus.
Churches are dying throughout our Country today not because of a lack of relevant teaching or worship…they are dying because Christians don’t value what Jesus valued. They ceased to be any different than the world…an environment of authentic love and unity. Jesus asks the Father that we stay in the world, but are protected by His Father from looking just like it.
Let’s prioritize the unity and love that Jesus prayed for us to enjoy! Let’s fight not for personal agendas but for sacrificial love and acceptance! Let’s create an environment in our families and our church that replicates our Lord and Savior…an environment our children and our friends can’t find anywhere else! This is what revival looks like! Returning to heart of our Savior will save your family, your friendships, and change our world.
Is there anything you have done that has diminished the unity and harmony of your marriage, family or the church? Take some time to confess that and ask forgiveness from God.
Are there any relationships in your family, the church or the world around you which you need to restore? Take some time today to reach out to that person in self-less love and pursue unity and harmony.
Pray for the relationships in your life today…Just as Jesus did, that God the Father would protect each relationship.
Pray for our church…that we would experience such an authentic love and unity that our community and world around us is transformed by His gospel and love.
DAY 21 - The Prayer Priorities of Jesus
By Jonathan Bonar
John 17:13-18 NIV
13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
As you come to the end of the 21 Days and prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior tomorrow, consider your journey over these 21 days. What have you learned? What habits have you developed? If you are fasting certain foods with me, what are you looking forward to eating tomorrow?! How is your relationship with the Lord different than when you started? As a church, together, we have worked hard to pull away from the distractions of this world to focus on our relationship with God. May this intimacy and spiritual development not end tomorrow but continue.
Here in John 17, Jesus prays to His Father for so many things! He is praying in front of them so they can hear His conversation and be joyful, as He is joyful. At such a sad time of contemplating His execution and departure from them, He speaks of replicating His joy! God wants us to be joyful…not fasting all the time…but celebrating what He has done for us…the eternal life He has provided through His resurrection! Prepare to celebrate with joy tomorrow the fact that Jesus rose again and conquered death and Hell!
Jesus then talks about our relationship to the world…the culture of the age around us. He says we are no more of the world than he is of the world, yet He doesn’t want us to leave the world with Him just yet. Even if the world hates us as it did Him. He is sending us into the world to change it! Do you feel alone at times? Have you been rejected by someone or by this world and culture? Maybe someone who was supposed to love you more than anyone? Students, have you ever been ridiculed because of your faith in Christ and the subsequent decisions you make to act differently than your classmates. Right here, in this prayer, Jesus is thinking about YOU…in your rejection and isolation. He is welcoming you to His club within hours of his closest friends rejecting Him and leaving Him to be beaten and executed.
He asks the Father, not to help us fit into the world and be accepted…rather, He asks His Father to protect us and make us stick out from the world and its culture or system. He uses the word “sanctify” which is a fancy word meaning to set apart or make holy. As we end our fast together today, may we not just return to life like normal…may we be different! Holy! Set apart! May the time we have spent in His Word together and the time we have spent intimately communicating with our Heavenly Father…make us different from the world we are sent into. We far too often value giftedness, influence, or intellect above holiness. Careers, families, and churches fall apart not due to a lack of what the world around us has…but rather a lack of what it doesn’t…holiness. Let's end our fast tomorrow and celebrate how Jesus conquered sin and death, but let’s pursue holiness. We have a mission…we have been sent by Jesus to change the world with His love and message. Let’s shine bright and let His teachings and His love set us apart for the rest of our lives!
In what ways do I compromise with the world abandoning the teaching of Christ so I can fit into the world around me?
What do I need to confess and ask forgiveness for in my life because it resembles more of the world than it does Christ?
If I am sent into the world, how can I share my faith with others or even just invite them to church?
How does my life need to change as I end this season of fasting and praying? What things shouldn’t change?
What is one takeaway or answer to prayer from this season you can take with you into life?