The rhythm we hope to establish in our lives, and throughout the X242 network, involves our own daily devotion, weekly worship with our microchurch, monthly meetups with all the microchurches, and then something I haven't really talked about much yet: a quarterly quest.
Our vision is that, every three months, we would all spend a week seeking God in prayer and fasting. Our hope is that through such devotion to prayer and fasting, we would see God move among us in powerful ways, giving clarity and discernment, bringing healing and refining, bringing people to faith, and igniting those already in the faith, renewing our devotion with courage and conviction, and calling people among us to plant new microchurches, and even start new regional networks.
I know we like to prepare emotionally for such things, but there's something to be said for hearing the call and jumping in. It shows us what's in our hearts, whether we're eager or reluctant. It serves notice that we're ready at a moment's notice.
So here's an opportunity to jump in eagerly: Would you commit yourself to prayer and fasting this week?
Why fast, and how?
When the first believers needed direction, or healing, or blessing, or deliverance, they prayed. And they often fasted as part of it, meaning they denied themselves food.
We're not told how often they fasted, or for how long. We're just told that they did it.
To fast is to go without food as a way of devoting ourselves to prayer. But it's not a hunger strike to get God's attention. It's a self-prescribed discipline of denying one of our strongest appetites in order to elevate faith as the stronger appetite.
Sometimes people fast from things other than food, and that's fine. While food is especially symbolic and connects us to the traditional practice, some people have medical reasons for not interrupting their nutrition. If you fast from anything for the purpose of devoting yourself to prayer, it is good, and well worth it.
Wendy and I are observing what I'm calling "day fasts" this week. We're going without breakfast and lunch as a way of devoting ourselves to prayer. But then we're enjoying an evening meal. We decided to do this so we could continue to "break bread together" with our microchurch on Tuesday night. But I spend the day hungry, and every time my hunger pangs hit, or I feel a bit weak, it reminds me to pray. And I do it with a chosen declaration that "I want this more than food itself!" And I pray.
What to pray for
I'm praying through the simple agreement of one path, four devotions, and two loves. It represents our faith, practice, and mission and orients my prayers for myself, for you, for my neighbors and anyone else I think of in the moment.
It never hurts to remind ourselves about that.
As I use that to guide my prayers, they come out different each time, but the following represents what's in my heart each time:
Would you jump in and join me in praying for these things?
Make a decision to go without a meal or two (or three) each day this week as a way of devoting yourself to praying through the One Path, the Four Devotions, and the Two Loves. Pray for yourself, for those nearest you, for me (please?), for all who are connecting with this network, and for anyone else God calls to mind. May God hear and answer our prayers as we devote ourselves to him in this way! Amen.
Update: New Microchurches in Sarasota.
At this past Saturday's monthly meetup we formed three new Sarasota microchurches for a total of four. One is thirteen weeks old, and the other three will be starting to meet in the next few weeks, as follows:
The nature of microchurches is that they're limited in space, but some do have room for people to join. We look for a thirteen week commitment, but there's grace for that, of course. If you want to join or start a microchurch, make sure you've signed up for it, and we'll do our best to help.
With faith, hope, and love,