I thought that I would start with a testimony that I have shared before but some may not have heard.
I have been in the fellowship for over thirty years and for approximately the first twenty years I never looked forward to prayer and fasts. The main reason being was that I enjoyed all those physical things that I thought I had to forego whilst the prayer and fast was happening. My usual routine was I would start fasting at the last minute on the day and go to the prayer and fast not really prepared for what I was about to undertake. I would do it more as a duty than an opportunity for blessing. I would, in effect, just turn up on the day.
About ten years ago we planned for the fellowship to have a prayer and fast early in the year. He also asked all of the leaders to have a prayer and fast about the coming year on the weekend before the fellowship prayer and fast. So I was faced with the prospect of two prayer and fasts for two weekends in a row. To say I was not pleased and not looking forward to this would be an understatement.
However I started the ‘leaders’ prayer and fast with a very small amount of enthusiasm and as a sense of duty. The leaders met and discussed many things and although I had not prepared for it I enjoyed what happened and The Lord blessed me over the first weekend and I thought it was a worthwhile experience.
The leaders were then asked to spend the following week preparing themselves for the fellowship prayer and fast and to think of ways that we could spend the intervening week ‘building ourselves up in our most holy faith’. Cheryl and I made some changes to our routine. We ensured that we had a good time of prayer in the morning but the main change was in the evening. We turned off the TV, computers, phone etc. or anything that could be a distraction, by 9pm. We then spent an hour or more in prayer and reading the Bible. It was a very simple change but something that would prove to be very beneficial for us both. I can’t quite remember but I think we may have also given up having dessert at our evening meal but that was definitely the only physical thing we changed.
I went into the fellowship prayer and fast excited at the prospect of this time being wonderful and blessed. Confident in the assurance that God was going to bless everything that I did. The thought of what I had to give up during the prayer and fast was not an issue at all I was too excited and looking forward to what was going to happen. As I was prepared, The Lord did not let me down. I finished the second prayer and fast with such a joy and a blessing that I had not had in a long, long, time. Words fail me to describe the overwhelming joy that The Lord blessed me with.
The lesson that I learnt was that the key to having a blessed time at prayer and fast is the preparation. Being built up in the spirit as best as you can before you go into it is the key.
I liken prayer and fasts to the Olympics. All of the Olympic athletes have been in training to compete for years. If athletes decided I won’t train, I won’t follow a strict regime, I won’t follow the coach’s instruction, instead I will just turn up on the day and do the best I can. How many of these athletes would win any medals or even be in anyway competitive? The answer none. Prayer and fasts we should consider as our Olympics but we are not striving for corruptible crowns (gold medals) but incorruptible, eternal crowns.
So let me ask you a question. When does the prayer and fast start? If you answered 2pm on Saturday I would say you are wrong. That is the time that we meet but I believe the correct answer is, it starts now. I don’t mean you give up food for the next week. Please make sure that you spend time during the coming week pre-prayering (that should be a word) yourself. Give up (even temporarily) anything that is a distraction and spend that time in fellowship with God in prayer or reading His word. If you don’t usually go to the housemeeting then this week please ensure that you do.
Let me leave you with two scriptures to think (and pray) about.
Jude v 20 But ye, beloved, build up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost
1 Cor 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
The next day’s message is here.