This one hurt. Sometimes when God gives us a word or reveals something to us, it is freeing or encouraging but sometimes it’s a gut check – and that is what this one was for me.
I co-lead a small group with a friend of mine and we spent a few months studying the book of John. We were taking the book a few chapters at a time and we had some great discussion; however, when I was preparing for one of our meetings, God revealed something significant to me – I had been reading these stories from the wrong perspective. I was reading in chapter nine, which is the story of Jesus healing the man born blind, when God sort of nudged my spirit. I’ve grown up reading the bible. I was practically born inside the walls of a church so I’m pretty familiar with a lot of these stories. When I read them I’m usually looking for nuggets of gold in Jesus’ words, yet this time I realized that there could be a shift in my perspective. I am the Pharisees way more often than I would care to admit. It’s easy for us to read these stories and just sort of glaze over them. I’m just as guilty as the next guy of reading the bible to check it off of my “Christian to-do list” of the day, but this was huge for me. I immediately went back through the first few chapters and re-read many of the parts where Jesus is having conversations with the Pharisees and I didn’t want to believe it but it was true.
You see, the Pharisees were so focused on what they wanted their “Messiah” to be, that they were standing in front of the Son of God and missing every single word that he said. That is what made me nervous. I don’t want to be a Pharisee. I don’t want to be so focused on doing “good things” for Jesus that I stop being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Instead, I want to be the man born blind. It took a man who was desperate to recognize his need for a savior. It took a man who had suffered his entire life to see Jesus for he his truly is, and that’s the key.
We are sinners. We need a savior. The moment that we start to think that we are worthy of our positions, our opportunities, or our talents, we become a distraction. But when we remain humble, remember that we are desperate for salvation, then, and only through Jesus, we can be unstoppable warriors for Christ.
Fasting means many things to many people. For some it could be a set time of no food/bland food. For others it could just be a nice time to start dieting…thinking “ehhh, I could afford to lose a few pounds”. But for me, fasting means something so much more than eating different foods or hitting my goal weight.
It wasn’t until last year when I decided to fully commit to fasting. I had a long list of prayer requests and, quite frankly, I almost doubted that denying my body of what it wanted and praying about it could really change so many things in my life. To my surprise, one week in, God had already begun to answer prayers left and right. Prayers for my family and their prosperity. Prayers for my school transfer. Prayers for my future. The weirdest, and most miraculous thing is that He has not stopped answering those prayers from LAST YEAR.
Fasting to me isn’t only about God being faithful in His promises to hear us when we call on His name but it is about focusing in on our relationship and showing Him just how much He means to me. He sacrificed so much for me and even though there is no comparison to that, it’s nice to say I will deny my flesh for Him.
Written by: Katie Lattimore, Worship Ministry Intern
To many people, fasting sounds extreme and old school. I personally LOVE food and thank God every day for a fast metabolism so I never have to diet or deny myself of a sweet or fried food. So fasting to me even sounded like torture.
I fasted for the first time in the spring of 2011. I was an actor in the Easter production and was excited to pray for 21 days through the Daniel Fast for the production to make a huge impact in the lives of thousands. In my personal life, I was also knocking down heaven’s door for spiritual, emotional and physical healing for my deep wounds from sexual abuse and sins in my past. I’m not going to lie, taking away all my favorite foods and having to deny my flesh every day was painful and eating organic was not cheap!
I still shudder at the thought of eating a plate of beans and rice, but God did not ignore my sacrifice and constant prayers. Not only did we hear about countless numbers of salvations and life change from the production, but the day the fast ended I was healed! Since that fast I have been free of a stronghold that held on to me since I was 14 and my marriage has never been better. I’ve been able to forgive people from my past and to forgive myself. The physical issues I faced that not a single doctor could fix were healed in an instant without any medical reason.
Now I’m not promising if you fast, God is going to be like a genie and answer your every wish. But I will promise you that if you fast, you will undeniably feel God’s presence and nothing is sweeter than that. Listening to God’s voice is a heck of a lot easier when you tell your stomach to shut up! If you don’t have a specific prayer need right now, lucky you! You can still fast and knock on heaven’s door for other things, like getting to know God better or for revival to break out at church this Easter. Pray for the lost to come pouring in the doors and be changed forever. Pray for the tech, actors, singers, dancers, etc that will be preparing for the weeks to come. I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do in this 40 days of prayer and fasting in your life and in our church. Nothing awesome happens in the comfort zone, so step out and try a fast!
I submit to you that basically Acts 4 is an account of A PRAYING CHURCH. In Verses 23-31, Luke records the epitaph of A CHURCH AT PRAYER. The pattern that we find in the early church is that they prayed and prayed often! I believe with all my heart it is time for us to enter into the Spirit of Corporate Prayer, to rediscover the power of prayer. Just as individuals are to pray, we are to pray as a church body.
Some wonderful things happened when this church prayed. Some marvelous and great things occurred when all of the members of this church got on one accord and prayed. I am led of the Lord to believe that God’s power is released in and through a praying church. All throughout scripture we see clearly that the power of God operates through a praying church. Signs and wonders, salvation and healing, praise and adoration, all take place within the context of a praying church. We can either pray, believe and receive or we can pray, doubt and do without! But God’s power operates in and through a praying church.
Let’s come together as a church for a night of corporate prayer:
PELLISSIPPI & UT
Friday March 22nd 6-10pm in Satellite
For childcare: RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday March 22nd 7-10pm at Blount Campus