Last week, we as a church concluded a 21-day fasting period. During the fast, each person spent time in prayer daily to focus on God and to deepen the relationship. The purpose of the fast was to cut out distractions from our lives such as social media or junk food and in its place spent time to draw strength from God. Along with prayer, it opened up an avenue for us to connect with our Lord and it enhanced that relationship.
Before Jesus began His ministry, he spent 40 days in fasting and in prayer. He wanted to connect with His Father. Despite the devil’s attempts to tempt Jesus away from his fast, Jesus resisted because His relationship with God was strong. Jesus depended on God for strength, not the temptations and distractions from the devil.
Several members of our church experienced great change in their lives during the three weeks of fasting and they volunteered to share their experience and testimony. We hope that these stories can inspire those who also participated in the fast; and encourage those who may be unsure about the benefits of fasting. May God continue to bless you in your journey with Him and may you draw strength from our Lord daily through prayer.
Today is Yom Kippur. Also known as the “Sabbath of Sabbaths,” it is he holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. And marks the end of a period of repentance known as “the Days of Awe,” ten days spent seeking absolution from any and all peoples that one has wronged. Fasting and extensive prayer mark this holy day, as the observer works through all his debts, errors and shortcomings from the prior year and brings them to God.
The prayers of Yom Kippur begin with the Kol Nidre. Among the most beautiful and haunting observations in all of religion, the Kol Nidre is a binding contract with God, a mediation on the release of all that we have taken upon ourselves, all that we have fallen short.
All vows, and prohibitions, and oaths, and consecrations, and konams and konasi and any synonymous terms, that we may vow, or swear, or consecrate, or prohibit upon ourselves, from the previous Day of Atonement until this Day of Atonement and from this Day of Atonement until the Day of Atonement that will come for our benefit. Regarding all of them, we repudiate them. All of them are undone, abandoned, cancelled, null and void, not in force, and not in effect. Our vows are no longer vows, and our prohibitions are no longer prohibitions, and our oaths are no longer oaths.
James Choung is InterVarsity’s Director of Evangelism and he’s a blogger. He recently posted about “A Stupid Prayer” that he prayed at the beginning of a new church plant. He prayed for “God to build something that wouldn’t be credited to the talents of the people in the room.” and for Him “to do something that could only be explained by his presence with us, that would be impossible to do without God.”
photo credit: James Choung
A simple and, in many ways, typical pastor’s prayer. But James wasn’t prepared for that prayer to be answered so fully and vividly in the year to come. God lead him to an avalanche of new responsibilities, both personal and in his ministry, where “everything feels impossible,” and he found himself “trying to manage it all, to keep them small and manageable.” And thinking, “some would say that’s wisdom. I can tell you that, for me, it’s laced with fear.”
That made me think about the prayer I pray with my sons. A prayer that asks for Bravery, and so in effect also asks for Fear. And I’m thinking of Pranny and her first year in campus ministry, planting a brand-new ministry on the Cal Poly campus. I recognize that, in God’s ways, fear-doubt-impossibility are often the most telling signs that we are on the right path.
It seems that since the dawn of time, the missions of His people have been marked by these dark imprints. Signs that it’s we that are small and He that is big.
And that’s how James concludes his thoughts, that “in the end, I now have more faith that the rest of the prayer will be answered — that God would build something that could only be explained because He was with us.”
James Choung blogs at: http://www.jameschoung.net/blog/
Huan-Zung Hsu is a freelance writer and the administrator for the Trinity blog. He could be described as a Christian Agnostic, meaning that he is not convinced that God exists, but chooses to practice Christianity because he believes that humans function better when: 1) we live in community and 2) our actions reflect a value that is greater than our selves.
Me and my kids been trying to say our prayers before bed each night. They’re already in good practice because their mom almost never forgets to tuck ’em in and say some nice words before sending them off to the restless twilight between resentment and resignation.
Their prayers usually follow a tried and true formula of: 1. giving thanks, 2. specific requests, 3. general cares and affections. The boys know the drill. “Thank you, Jesus, for all the great stuff we’ve got going on; please look after auntie so-&-so, make sure she gets better soon; and be good to all our friends and family, whom we love. Amen.”
It’s perfect. No need to elaborate beyond that. But still, I feel the urgency to also take responsibility for my children’s relationship to God, even if I don’t know if there is any such person or thing as “God.” I still believe…
View original post 316 more words