A Day of Prayer and Fasting
As we all know, these are difficult days. Many in our own church have lost jobs, and others are wondering if they will be next. The threat of illness hangs over us all, and we have several in our midst who would be at higher risk due to age or pre-existing medical conditions. Fear and uncertainty are all around us. And, of course, we live in a community and in a province where everyone is facing the same challenges—but, in the case of most of our fellow-citizens, they are doing so without the hope of Christ.
Because of the great need both within and without our church, and because of our helplessness in the face of these changes and dangers, we think it fitting and appropriate to set aside a day for corporate and individual prayer, with fasting—which serves to remind us of our dependence on God—a day where we can pour out our hearts to the Triune God through confession, lamentation, supplication, and exaltation.
Therefore, we at Grace Church will be fasting and praying this Saturday, April 4, culminating in an online corporate prayer meeting starting at 5:00 PM (details can be found here, and a printable "Guide to Prayer and Fasting" can be found here).
So how should believers approach a day like this?
How should I fast?
First, not everyone should fast. If that’s you—for instance, children, or nursing mothers, or those who are in a weakened physical condition, or those who are prescribed medication and need to take it with food—please don’t feel obligated to participate in that way. But we do still invite you to pray alongside us!
Second, if you do intend to fast, you can still drink water and we encourage you to do so—this is a fast from food and other beverages, not from water.
Third, if you’re a parent with children but you are fasting, do feed your children as normal throughout the day. That said, if some of your children are of age to understand and volunteer to join you, it’s up to you whether to permit it, but we encourage you to consider the opportunity to disciple them in this way!
Fourth, begin your fast when you wake up and continue until after the end of our corporate time of prayer together. Set yourself a reminder—on your phone, or a note on the fridge or table or pantry, or in some other way—that you’re not eating. Keep a water glass or bottle handy throughout the day.
How should I pray?
First, this is a day for both individual and corporate prayer. That means pray throughout the day, individually or as couples or families—don’t just wait for the corporate meeting.
Second, one of the purposes of fasting is to remind us of our weakness and need to be provided for by God. Pray whenever you feel hungry, when you feel pulled to eat—these moments are “prods” to pray to God.
Third, take time before the day to plan and organize your prayers. List out things and people to pray for. Call, text, or email someone and ask how you can pray for them. Be deliberate in this important ministry!
What should I pray for?
Ultimately, it’s up to you when to pray and what to pray for. However, in case this is of help to you, here is a suggested guide for your prayers. You can take these either as suggestions for specific times of prayer, or as general themes for ongoing spontaneous prayers in each of these times of the day.
1. Early Morning: Adoration
(Examples: Ps. 77:6-10; Ps. 139; Isa. 44:6-8; Isa. 45:15-25)
Begin your prayer in the day by meditating on God’s nature and character: his omnipotence, his omniscience, his omnipresence, his eternity, his righteousness, his justice, his love, his mercy, his sovereignty, his unchangeableness, and other attributes.
2. Late Morning: Confession
(Examples: Ps. 32:1-5; Ps. 38:1-8; Ps. 51; Ps. 130:1-4)
Next, turn your thoughts inward, to your own remaining sinfulness, to the ways in which you have transgressed against God: things you’ve done you ought not to have done; things you should have done but didn’t; lingering resentment or bitterness against others; undue anxiety and despair; neglecting God in spiritual disciplines; and others.
3. Midday: Lamentation
(Examples: Ps. 6:1-7; Ps. 13:1-4; Ps. 42:1-4, 7-10; Ps. 44:9-16)
Third, bring to God your pain and grief. Lament the loss of stability and certainty, the greater risks that you and others now face, and things you have personally had taken away from you in this time of trial, from jobs and income that have disappeared, to plans and opportunities that have vanished.
4. Early Afternoon: Reflection
(Examples: Ps. 44:1-8; Ps. 77:11-20; Ps. 105; Ps. 135)
Fourth, take time to reflect upon God’s mighty deeds and remarkable providences. Turn to Scripture and acknowledge the many ways in which he protected and provided for his people throughout redemptive history. Remember your own past, pondering and confessing the many ways in which God has protected and provided for you throughout the course of your life. Reflect on all these things with thanksgiving and praise.
5. Late Afternoon: Supplication
(Examples: Ps. 43:1-4; Ps. 44:23-26; Ps. 77:1-3; Ps. 80)
Fifth, bring your cares and concerns to God. Don’t ask merely for physical or financial needs; begin with spiritual needs. Ask that the Lord would use this time to equip you for ministry and enable you to build up Christ’s body, the church. Ask that God would fit you for heaven, cultivating greater maturity, contentment, joy, perseverance, peace, and hope. And then ask for the things you need here and now, for food and shelter, for health and safety, for peace and prosperity, for wisdom and for work.
6. Evening: Resolution
(Examples: Ps. 42:5, 11; Ps. 121; Ps. 131; Hab. 3:17-19)
Finally, end your prayers where the Psalmists so often did: with expressions of confidence in God, with renewed resolve to wait upon him and trust in him. Praise his trustworthiness and faithfulness. Declare anew his steadfast love to yourself and to those who are praying with you.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
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