Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.(Acts 13.1-4 NIV)
“Fasting along with our prayer requests is not some kind of magic bullet to ensure the answer we want… nor is it a manipulative device. We fast because a condition arises—what we are calling the sacred moment—that leads us to desire something deeply. We fast because our plea is so intense that in the midst of our sacred desire eating seems sacrilegious. A body plea occurs when the unified person gives himself or herself wholly to God to plead for something or someone… Fasting can be a way for the unified person to turn to God to plead with God completely.” (S. McKnight, Fasting, p. 49)
Prayer: Lord, we want to make ourselves completely available to you. Use us and include us in your plans—your plans to bring about salvation to our cities, schools, communities. We plead with you, Lord, bring revival! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “The Secret Place” by Phil Wickham (AMC MT with P. Jason from Sunday 7/11/21) – click here
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? … Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear… Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”(Isaiah 58.6, 8-9 NIV)
“One further reason for fasting… namely a deliberate doing without in order to share what we might have eaten (or its cost) with the undernourished. There is biblical warrant for this practice… when through Isaiah God condemned the hypocritical fasting of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, his complaint was that they were seeking their own pleasure and oppressing their workers on the very day of their fast. This meant partly that there was no correlation in their mind or actions between the food they did without and the material need of their employees. Theirs was a religion without justice or charity… To have an occasional (or, better, regular) ‘hunger-lunch’… these are forms of fasting which please God because they express a sense of solidarity with the poor.” (J. Stott, Christian Counter-culture, p. 138)
Prayer: Lord, may we practice the kind of fasting that you have chosen—a fasting that expresses and highlights your justice. Empower us through your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “Rescued/Nothing Can Separate Us” by AMC MT (click here)
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel…”(Nehemiah 1:4-6 NIV)
“In the Bible prayer and fasting frequently occurred together. Bible characters often fasted while in intercessory prayer for others (2 Sam. 12:16-23; Neh. 1:8-10; Ps. 35:13; Dan. 6:18; 9:15-19) or while voicing prayer requests for their own needs (1 Sam. 1:7-11; Neh. 1:11; Ps. 109:21-24; Dan. 9:3; 10:1-3). Leaders prayed and fasted for success in battle (Judg. 20:26; 1 Sam. 7:6; 2 Chron. 20:3), for relief from famine (Jer. 14:1-12; Joel 1:14; 2:12-15), or for success in other endeavors, such as Ezra’s return from the exile (Ezra 8:21-23) or Esther’s success before the king (Esth. 4:16).” (K.D. Berghuis, “A Biblical Perspective on Fasting”)
Take a moment today and look up one or two of the passages noted above. How do prayer and fasting go together?
Prayer: Lord, through prayer and fasting, our desire is to commune with you, to be near you, to hear your voice, to follow your ways. Empower us through your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing and indulge our desires for God’s presence: “Psalm of Thanks” (click here)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”(Luke 4.1-4 NIV)
“The more I learn from fasting the more I see that Jesus actually stood at his strongest when his belly was empty. Jesus is in peak condition, a fighter who has been training hard… Jesus’ swift and unflinching rebuttal to the devil is to quote from Deuteronomy 8:3: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’ … If you never fast, then the whole concept of being wholly nourished and sustained by God’s word will be only a nice, sweet and totally irrelevant idea… And worse: if you never fast, you may not stand when the day of testing and temptation comes. Consumption is killing us. Go fast and live.” (M. Buchanan, “Go Fast and Live: Hunger as Spiritual Discipline”)
Prayer: Lord, fill us with the Holy Spirit. Lead us and we will follow you. Teach us what it means to not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “The Secret Place” by Phil Wickham (click here)
Let’s read aloud together the following passage, confession and prayer:
Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”(Matthew 9.14-15 NIV)
“What mercy could be greater, so far as we poor wretches are concerned, than that which pulled the Creator down from heaven… so that He, our Bread, would hunger; that He, our fulfillment, would thirst; that He, our strength, would become weak; that He, our Health, would be wounded; that He, our Life, would die? And all this [He did] to satisfy our hunger, moisten our dryness, soothe our infirmity, wipe out our iniquity, kindle our charity. What mercy could be greater…?” (Augustine, Sermon 207)
Prayer: Lord, there is none like you. We are in awe of you. We long for you. We hunger for you. We know you are with us through your Spirit. But we want more of you. Consume us. Heart, soul, mind and strength—entirely for you. May we follow your Spirit into times of fasting—moving with the move of God. We trust that our abstinence will lead to abundance—abundance of your presence, power and revelation. We believe our subtraction will lead to supernatural, exponential increase. All for your glory, Lord! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “Waiting Here for You” by Martin Smith (click here)
The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household. (Acts 16.34 NIV)
“We are given a picture of a household that is filled with joy because they came to believe in God… [T]here is genuine joy in the whole family because they encountered God. God will do this!
“Trust in God’s goodness, his power, his timing, and his love for your family. The Lord wants to see them saved more than we do. Let us envision what God can do!”
“I also remember a couple of supernatural moments that encouraged my parents’ faith… [H]e had prayed to God, asking if he could be paid for his comics for a specific amount that they needed. Not too long after, someone had contacted him about publishing his comics in a local Korean newspaper for that specific amount. He was amazed that God answered his prayer. During the same season, my mom received physical healing for her thumb after the pastor prayed for healing…” (From the testimony video of Debra’s dad)
Pray for someone who needs the impossible to be done in their lives. Let’s pray: Lord, do what only you can do in __________ ’s life! I believe you can do the impossible in their lives. I trust in your goodness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Romans 10:17 NIV)
“[T]hough grace does not run in the blood, and regeneration is not of blood nor of birth, yet does it very frequently… happen that God, by means of one of a household, draws the rest to Himself. He calls an individual, and then uses him to be a sort of spiritual decoy [ie. lure] to bring the rest of the family into the gospel net!” (Charles Spurgeon sermon #1019)
We can easily become overwhelmed and discouraged by the unbelief in our families. But remember Jesus also had to deal with unbelieving family members: John 7.5 “For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” They thought, Jesus “was out of his mind” (Mk 3.21). But something changed, because in the end, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1.14)
Jesus had to persevere in order to see his family members come to salvation. May he give us the grace and power to do the same.
Pray for someone who seems closed to the gospel: Lord, break the bondage of unbelief in __________ ’s life. Give me the courage to present the gospel clearly to them. You saved me for a reason. May my family be blessed because of what you have done in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s pray and sing of the Father’s great love: (Click Here)
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16.31-34 NIV)
Imagine going to a Tesla showroom, intending to buy the car for $50,000. The sales rep says you can have it for $5,000. You can’t believe it! You think, maybe I should buy one for everyone in the family. But he says you can’t buy it for them, they have to come themselves. But if they come, they can have the same deal. You ask, “my wife? my kids? How about my uncle? How about…?” He says, you and anyone in your family, if they come, same deal. Wow, what an offer! Call everyone right now and let them know!
But you know we’re talking about something infinitely more valuable than a car. Salvation in Christ is the deal of the century! Imagine again, that we call our cousin to tell them about this incredible deal. And they respond, “Nah, that’s good for you, but not for me.” Or, you call someone else, and they say, “Sounds too good to be true.” Our hearts should break when our loved ones reject God’s offer of salvation. They don’t know what they are saying “no” to.
Let’s pray for our loved ones: Lord, may you give the gift of faith to __________ . Open their eyes to see the good news in Jesus. Deliver them from blindness and ignorance. May salvation come to me and my loved ones. In Jesus’ name, amen.
As you sing “Jesus Loves Me” (Hillsong Kids) pray that your loved ones will receive childlike faith: (Click Here)
With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them… Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children… Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! For God said to Moses,
“I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”
So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
— Romans 9.1-3, 8, 14-15 (NLT)
“When we are genuinely concerned for the salvation of our family members, it is also God’s grace calling us to make sure our lives are in order… Is our witness compromised because we are lacking in integrity in how we are living, how we are dealing with family matters? Evaluate the credibility of your witness…” (P. Mark)
Pray for someone who needs salvation: Lord, show __________ your mercy. Show them your compassion. Bring them from death to life! Clothe me with the power of your Spirit so that I may be a faithful intercessor and credible witness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
In a similar way to how we’ve been praying together on Tuesdays (for students) and Thursdays (all churches), let’s have a sense of doing these daily devotions together as well. Let’s read this passage out loud, knowing that all over the Agapé Churches, we are proclaiming God’s word today:
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them… This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For,
There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. —1 Timothy 2.1, 3-6 (NLT)
Salvation “is truly a supernatural, miraculous work of God. Then… why do we focus on the natural and human ways of dealing with our family, even wanting ‘Christian’ things for them out of our personal efforts more than praying for the miraculous encounter! …Pray for the Spirit of God to move in their lives!” (P. Mark)
Pray for someone in your family who needs the Lord. Use the following prayer as a guide to get you started. As you intercede, persist in praying for the Spirit’s intervention in their lives:
Lord, I’m coming to you now to pray for ___________ . God, help them. I know how much you want them to be saved and to understand the truth. Before anything, they need to be reconciled to you through Jesus Christ. Send your Spirit to open their eyes and become aware that Jesus gave his life to purchase their freedom. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Sing “Holy Spirit” (Jesus Culture) and be filled to overflowing (Click Here):