Quite appropriately I am sitting and writing this blog in a prayer room and next to me is a poster with the quote:
“Sometimes all it takes is a prayer to change everything”
Prayer takes many forms and has many facets to it but certainly one key aspect is this understanding that prayer changes things. That the eternal and infinite God that we worship and adore works through our prayers and impacts not only us but the world around us.
This is wonderfully highlighted to us in the Letter of James where we are told “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.” James 5:17-18 (NLT)
I read an article on the BBC website this weekend which commented on how the witches of America were organising a mass spell against Donald Trump. The article did not have a very serious tone and finished with the comment “the battle between the Bible and the broomstick”.
Ignoring any political aspects, this article got me thinking about whether we as Christians really believe or understand the power and the importance of prayer. Do we as 21st century Christians take seriously Paul’s comments that our battle is not against flesh and blood but principalities and powers? Is it possible that those “principalities and powers” have a greater awareness of the “great power” of our prayers then we do? Is prayer something that we Christians “just do” or do we understand it as the place where God’s power is unleashed into the world around us? The place where we see “On earth as it is in heaven” in ourselves, in our church, in our communities and the world.
My desire as we gather next week for three days of prayer and fasting is that we would come together with expectation. Expectation that God can use people who are “as human as we are” to change the world around us through prayer.
What is your expectation?
While the idea and significance of prayer is something that most people are aware of, the same cannot be said about fasting. We do not fast in order to twist God’s arm. We do not fast in order to get God’s mercy. We do not fast in order to impress God or to make him love us. We have a saviour Jesus who has made us perfectly acceptable to God and through whom we have been adopted into God’s family. So why fast? Well here are three reasons (there are many others but here are just three):
- NT Wright says that fasting is “saying a firm goodbye to everything in us that still clings to the old”. As Christians we are redeemed and part of the Kingdom of his beloved Son. But we live in a world where our passions and desires are so influenced and impacted by things that compete for our affections – we still fight with our flesh. Peter says “you are a slave to whatever controls you” and fasting is a powerful way to see and pray into those things which still have a hold on us from our old life. Things and attitudes and behaviours that enslave us and stop us from being who we are!
- When we fast we remind ourselves that we belong to him and not to the many things (legitimate and illegitimate) that pull and compete for our affection and worship. Fasting is a reminder that “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”. As we fast we demonstrate (to ourselves) that he is greater and more important than all the things we think we need – he is above every other name and every other affection.
- As we fast in we draw closer to God as we prioritise him over even basic needs. Consequently we put ourselves in a place where we are more aware of him – hear God more clearly.
I heard fasting described as a spiritual atomic bomb – may it be so with us this week!
So… What is your expectation?
Some important practical information:
What are we praying & fasting for?
We are doing this as a church to seek God together for our shared vision – on earth as it is in heaven!
When we come together in the evenings we will:
Worship: one of our highest joys (Psalm 95:1) and most powerful weapons (Psalm 8:2, Psalm 149:6).
Giving Thanks: Thankfulness keeps our eyes focused on God who is always moving and acting in history.
Declaring: coming into agreement with the promises of God over our church, neighbourhood, city, and beyond.
Unifying: figuratively locking arms and uniting our voices for each church community in the KingsGate family.
Each evening will have a local content though which we will pray together.
Tuesday – Ham
Wednesday – Wimbledon Village
Thursday – Kingston & the emerging faith story of Cobham
During the relevant day, you can be praying for each of these church communities, asking God to speak to you and guide your prayers. Each morning we will publish a list of prayer themes that are specific to each congregation. Look out for updates (emails and on Facebook)!
What are we fasting from?
This week, we are inviting you to take part in a water only fast. You may, however choose to take part in a partial fast of fruit juice, water and vegetable soup.
BUT we do not recommend fasting if you have a medical condition or are pregnant. Perhaps fast from alternatives like any luxuries in your diet that are not necessary, or perhaps all forms of media.
Where will we meet?
We will gather each evening of the fast to worship and pray together from 7:30pm – 9:00pm
Tuesday 7:30pm – Ham:
St Richards CE School, Ashburnham Road, TW10 7NL, Ham
Getting there: St Richards CE Primary School main entrance is on Ashburnham Road.
Public Transport: 371 bus from Kingston or Richmond. Bus stop – Marriner Gardens.
Driving:. There is a small car park on site, as well as a car park at the local shops. Also, plenty of parking is available around the site on the street.
Wednesday 7:30pm: Wimbledon:
St Mark’s Church Hall, St Mark’s Place, Wimbledon, SW19 7ND
Getting there: The entrance to the hall is actually on Compton Road, but can be accessed by walking down “St Mark’s Place”
Public Transport: Easy walking distance from Wimbledon train station.
Driving: Central Wimbledon location. St Georges Road Car Park, SW194EA. Some free street parking available after 6:30pm but please check local signage carefully.
Thursday 7:30pm – Kingston:
KingsGate Church Kingston, 161a Clarence Street, Kingston, KT1 1QT
Public transport: Easy walking distance from train and bus stations.
Driving: Central Kingston location. Cattle Market Car Park, Fairfield North, KT1 2QY
How will we break the fast?
On Thursday night we will conclude our time of prayer with a light communion meal.
We highly recommend that you don’t break any time of fasting with a massive binge. It is not healthy physically OR spiritually to do that.
We look forward to this significant time for us as a family of faith.