Monday, March 19, 2012

21 days of prayer and fasting - the beginning

I'm so excited as together we begin this 21 days of prayer and fasting. I am expectant as we set aside these days leading up to Easter to seek God. Each day I will be emailing out a passage from the Bible with a short devotion.

Yesterday I read 2 Chronicle 7:14 which says, If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. I challenged you, using this verse as a guide for the next 21 days, to do the following:
  • Humble yourself by getting on your knees daily before God to pray.
  • Pray: Actually making time to converse with your Heavenly Father. If you don't know what to pray ask God. He'll tell you. You can also use the daily Bible reading to guide your prayer.
  • Seek God's face by fasting. Fasting is when we intentionally take something our of our lives and replace it with time with God. As you crave what you would normally indulge in your hunger and focus on God grows.
  • Turn from your wicked ways: Use this time to examine your heart and your life. Repent of your sin. Confess your sin. Ask God to reveal your sin to you so that you can turn away from it.
I am praying that God will use the next 21 days to do something significant and profound in your life and in our church. Here is today's reading.

Daniel 10
1 In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia,tDaniel (also known as Belteshazzar) had another vision. He understood that the vision concerned events certain to happen in the future—times of war and great hardship.

2 When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks.

3 All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.
4 On April 23,t as I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River,5 I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist.

6 His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.
7 Only I, Daniel, saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide.8 So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak.

9 Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground.
10 Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees.

11 And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.
12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.13 But for twenty-one days the spirit princet of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels,t came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.t

14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.”
15 While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word.16 Then the one who looked like a mant touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak.

17 How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”
18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.

19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!”
As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”
20 He replied, “Do you know why I have come? Soon I must return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, and after that the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greecet will come.

21 Meanwhile, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one helps me against these spirit princes except Michael, your spirit prince.

This passage is a source for the idea of a 21-day fast. As you set apart these three weeks to seek God, know that God has already heard your prayer. He is already at work on your behalf. What specific clarity of vision are you seeking from God during this time? Write down your prayer so you can reflect on it at the end of the 21 days. Spend time praying for God to speak to you and give you strength.


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