According to recent news, the season of Lent began worldwide (Feb. 22nd), and revival ended at Asbury University in Kentucky (Feb 22nd) at about the same time. Spontaneous prayer, prayer, and worship lasted over 16 days. Lent is a 40-day prayer, fasting, and giving season that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday (April 6th). It’s a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. During Lent, Catholics (and others) seek the Lord in prayer by reading Scripture, serving by giving offerings and practicing self-control through fasting. The connection is of Lent starting, and Ashbury worship ending is thought-provoking.
Lent’s validity depends on our focus on the person of Jesus and not on the church’s tradition. We can set aside a season for personal and corporate reflection, prayer, and worship, on the life-changing reality of our relationship with Jesus. He alone is worthy. We can appreciate that Asbury maintained its focus on Jesus, not the school, a denomination, or influential leaders. The goal was not to attract crowds or draw attention to themselves. It was all about Jesus! The presence of Jesus is critical. There was an intense radical focus on Jesus in Asbury. There was a passion and hunger to meet with the Lord. Jesus is worthy of our praise. We have access to Him by gathering in prayer, reading the Bible, and by the work of the Holy Spirit. We “choose” to worship the Lord more than talk about God. Repentance is essential, and forgiveness is vital. It is not just an initial response to the gospel but a continual reorganization of our hearts, minds, and souls to the priority and preeminence of following Jesus.
We will enter into 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting from March 19 to April 8 (more information is coming).
Our 21-day focus will be a “Deep Dive” into worship, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, reflection, renewing, and refreshing. Are we willing to step up and commit to following Jesus? We might remember His ministry and His sacrifice. As His followers, we can prepare for Easter by being selfless and giving grace, love, forgiveness, repentance, and humility. We are challenged to lay down our lives for others by fasting and praying.
Fasting from foods, media or other activities reminds us of our commitment to Jesus as our Lord. He is always worthy! Revival cannot be produced until it is released, and true repentance and worship can’t be manipulated. We should consider our lives, marriages, families, friends, co-workers, relationships, small groups, and the church as we pray and fast. There are many Biblical examples of fasting and prayer. It is important to note prayer is an activity that can stand alone. However, Biblical fasting is done in conjunction with prayer.
In the Old Testament, Nehemiah prayed and fasted after learning that the wall surrounding Jerusalem had been destroyed and the city and its people were afraid to worship and feared attack from their enemies. Nehemiah sought the Lord through fasting, prayer, confession, and repentance, asking for the Lord’s favor and guidance to rebuild the wall (Nehemiah 1:1-11). Daniel 9:1-27, Daniel fasted and prayed for the Israelites who remained in captivity. Daniel acknowledged the justice of God in response to their sin and rebellion but cried out for God to extend mercy toward His people.
In the New Testament, Anna was a prophetess who lived at the Temple worshiping, fasting, and praying as she awaited the coming Messiah in Luke 2:36-38. The New Testament story of prayer and fasting that has always caught my attention is found in Matthew 17:14-21. The disciples could not cast a demon out of a young boy, and at Jesus’ rebuke, the demon came out, and the boy was instantly healed. When the disciples asked Jesus later why they could not, he said, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
From these examples, we observe that when fasting is added to prayer, it is a deep dive into the presence of the Lord, worship, repentance, intentionality, humility, forgiveness, and an attitude of interdependence upon the Lord. Fasting sets aside a time of focused, surrendered devotion and communion with God. Abstaining for a short time from the essentials of life, like food, enhances our spiritual awareness as we demonstrate that Christ Himself is our greatest delight. Jesus is our Living Water and the Bread of Life.
Let’s commit ourselves to the Will of the Father, to the Word of the Son, and to the Work of the Holy Spirit.
Questions to ponder:
- Will people be attracted to the faith they watch in our actions?
- What are the areas in our lives need to be surrendered to the Lord?
- Are we wholeheartedly loving God? Loving people? Doing it Together?