BROOKHOUSE METHODIST CHURCH
PRAYER AND FASTING RESOURCES
We believe that the heart of God is to restore and renew his church. We are on that journey of renewal as we pursue the heart of God and his call to us at BMC to return to our first love. As we enter this period of prayer and fasting let us come before God with boldness and confidence. Jesus said, ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer’ (Matthew 21:22). So let us enter this time of fasting and prayer by asking and believing God for great things and abundant blessings!
In the following pages you will find some teaching on fasting and prayer bullets to encourage and guide your thoughts and focus for each day. We believe that by focusing our prayers into the same aspect of our church life and mission each day, we will be entering into agreement in prayer about which Jesus said: ‘When two of you get together and make a prayer of it, my father in heaven goes into action’ (Matthew 18:19 MSG).
According to the Bible, there are three duties of every Christian: give, pray and fast. Biblical fasting takes a lot of discipline and strength—strength which you can only receive from God. Your private discipline will bring you rewards in Heaven, says Matthew 6.
BIBLICAL FASTING FOCUS
1 TIMOTHY 2:1-2 "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."
ROMANS 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service."
MATTHEW 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
ISAIAH 58:6 "[Is] not this the fast that I have chosen to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?"
There was only ever one stipulated day of fasting in the Bible. That was on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) when sacrifices were made to deal with the sin of the whole nation. God instructed his people to ‘deny themselves’ legitimate nourishment and instead to pray that the offering being made for their sin would be accepted.
From that point on in the Bible we read many examples of fasting but always as a voluntary response of the worshipper to make space to pray and appeal to God for a breakthrough or intervention. It is a way of saying to God ‘we need you! And it is more important to me that you help us than it is I have my next meal.’
TO BRING FREEDOM
The Old Testament contains many examples of God intervening in the lives of his people when they prayed and fasted – check out the lives of Daniel, Nehemiah and Esther for example. It teaches us that fasting and prayer are a powerful combination BUT on one condition. God is not interested in fasting for its own sake; our self-abasement or self-righteousness. He is interested in the freedom it brings as we work with him in a process. In fact fasting always brings freedom when you examine it closely. Isaiah 58:5-6 says it best:
‘Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 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?’
In other words, fasting is about denying yourself to work with God to bring freedom to a situation. That’s why fasting is not an end in itself; it must be accompanied by focussed prayer.
TO BE OBEDIENT TO JESUS
Jesus fasted and prayed at significant points in his life, like just before he started his public ministry (Luke 4:2). After doing so we read that he returned ‘in the power of the Spirit’ (v14) and went straight to Nazareth where he declared ‘The spirit of the Lord is on me … to proclaim freedom’ (v18-19). We believe that as we emulate Jesus, our fasting and prayer will release God’s power into situations and equip us to be freedom-bringers too.
In obedience to Christ, the first Christians fasted as part of their normal spiritual discipline. As they fasted and prayed, God spoke life-changing words to them (Acts 13:1-3) and we are trusting God will do the same for us.
In Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus left us a simple instruction about fasting:
‘When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’
So this is a private discipline, something between you and God who promises to reward your obedience. Hold on to that promise throughout this period of fasting.
Because fasting is about creating space to pray and engage with God, it can take a variety of forms, from a total fast from all food, to a partial fast from certain foods or just specific meals. Some people choose to ‘juice fast’ as the juice gives energy to allow them to carry on with life without becoming over-tired or weak. But whatever you do, keep drinking plenty of water and wisely manage any medical conditions you may have.
Ultimately it’s a personal choice between you and God. But to be meaningful, fasting needs to be sacrificial and create space to pray.
+ Is a personal choice through which you engage God in serious prayer. It is you showing God you mean business.
+ Is a private discipline, not something to broadcast, but is between you and God.
+ Is not difficult when you believe deeply in the thing you are fasting and praying about.
+ Could be a partial or total fast, just ensure it is in sensible proportion to your work, life-style, age and health.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF FASTS
Full Fast Drink only liquids (you establish the number of days).
The Daniel Fast Eat no meat, no sweets and no bread. Drink water and juice. Eat fruits and vegetables.
3-Day Fast This fast can be a Full Fast, Daniel Fast or give up at least one item of food.
Partial Fast A partial fast is from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm or from sun up to sundown. You can select from three types of fasting —a Full Fast, Daniel Fast or give up at least one item of food.
Scripture References for Fasting: Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 9:14-15, Luke 18:9-14
Relation to Prayer and Reading of the Word: 1 Samuel 1:6-8, 17-18, Nehemiah 1:4, Daniel 9:3, 20, Joel 2:12, Luke 2:37, Acts 10:30, Acts 13:2
Corporate Fasting: 1 Samuel 7:5-6, Ezra 8:21-23, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Joel 2:15-16, Jonah 3:5-10, Acts 27:33-37
Remember that it is the attitude of a heart sincerely seeking Him to which God responds with a blessing (Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 14:12, 1 Corinthians 8:8). May God greatly bless you as you fast! We encourage you to seek the Lord in prayer and let your decisions about the type of fast you should enter into come from Him. Ask the Lord to show you areas to target during your time of fasting and prayer. For example:
1. Are you in need of healing or a miracle?
2. Do you need the touch of God on your life?
3. Is there a dream inside you that only Jesus can make possible?
4. Do you desire a deeper, more intimate and powerful relationship with the Lord?
5. Are you ready to be more sensitive to God’s desire?
6. Do you need to break away from the bondages that have been holding you hostage?
7. Is there a friend or loved on that you would like to meet Jesus Christ?
8. Do you desire to know God’s will for your life?
9. Do you desire the baptism and fullness of the Spirit in your life?
We believe that, as we pray and seek God our desire and discipline will propel us into his manifest presence. May you enter the glory of his presence as you place your life as a living sacrifice on the altar as you pursue the restoration of first love (Matthew 6:33)!
IMPORTANT TIPS FOR FASTING
How to Begin : Start with a clear goal. Be specific. Why are you fasting? Do you need direction, healing, restoration of marriage or family issues? Are you facing financial difficulties? Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Pray daily and read the Bible.
Preparing Spiritually : Confess your sins to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas of weakness. Forgive all who have offended you and ask forgiveness from those you may have offended (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3-4). Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ and reject the worldly desires that try to hinder you (Romans 12:1-2).
Deciding What to Fast : The type of fasting you choose is up to you. You could go on a full fast in which you only drink liquids, or you may desire to fast like Daniel, who abstained from sweets and meats, and the only liquid he drank was water. Remember to replace that time with prayer and Bible study.
Deciding How Long : You may fast as long as you like. Most can easily fast from one to three days, but you may feel the grace to go longer, even as much as 21 to 40 days. Use wisdom and pray for guidance. Beginners are advised to start slow.
What to Expect : When you fast your body detoxifies, eliminating toxins from your system. This can cause mild discomfort such as headaches and irritability during withdrawal from caffeine and sugars. And naturally, you will have hunger pains. Limit your activity and exercise moderately. Take time to rest. Fasting brings about miraculous results. You are following Jesus' example when you fast. Spend time listening to praise and worship. Pray as often as you can throughout the day. Get away from the normal distractions as much as possible and keep your heart and mind set on seeking God's face.
How to End : Don't overeat when the time comes to end your fast. Begin eating solid food gradually; eat small portions or snacks.
PRAY FOR… A HOUSE OF SALVATION
‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19-20).
The mission of the Church is to reach the lost and turn those new disciples into devoted followers of Christ. We are sent, like the apostle Paul to ‘open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith’ (Acts 26:18).
+ PRAY for the opportunities we create for people to receive Christ in our meetings. In most of them we have such a moment. Pray that more will respond and that those making the appeals will have the wisdom and words to make Christ accessible to people.
+ PRAY specifically for those you are inviting and bringing to church who need Christ. Pray they will have open hearts and pray that you will make Jesus attractive to them.
+ PRAY that we will each be the ‘salt’ and ‘light’ that Jesus taught we are to be in the world. Our ‘saltiness’ preserves their lives and our ‘light’ illuminates the path to heaven for them (Matthew 5:13-16).
+ PRAY for our specific outreach ministries: Xcelr8, DV8, Tiddlywinks, Meet To Eat, 3:16, 11:28, Saturday Football, Little Dale Hall Therapeutic Centre, Mission Albania, and School’s Work.
+ PRAY for those who have been saved recently and added into the spiritual family of BMC. Pray they will put down deep roots into Christ and be protected as they take their first steps of faith. Pray for those who are nurturing them in House Groups that they establish a great growth environment for them.
Let our collective heart’s cry be that in 2012, this House will be a House of Salvation!
‘Finally, brothers, pray … that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly’
(2 Thessalonians 3:1)
PRAY FOR… THE GROWTH OF THE CHURCH
‘And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more’ (Philippians 1:9)
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ (Luke 4:18-19)
To ‘minister’ simply means to serve. So, after praying for more people to find Christ yesterday, let’s get personal and pray for specific ministries in our church today, and the places where we serve. Let’s saturate those ministries and locations with prayer!
+ PRAY FOR THE GROWTH OF OUR VARIOUS MINISTRIES
You may not be able to actively serve on a team you feel passionately about due to physical limitations, practical problems or life-stage issues, but that does not mean you cannot be fully involved in praying for them. Prayer support is vital for every ministry. So, pray for our various ministries … and tell the team leader you are doing so!
+ PRAY FOR THE GROWTH OF THE MINISTRIES THAT HAVE HELPED YOU
We have all been on the receiving end of someone else’s serving. Maybe it was a team member who helped you feel at home, a person who prayed for you, a meal someone made for you, a course someone taught that changed your life, a House Group host, Youth Leader or Sunday School and Junior Church worker. Thank God for them and pray his blessing on their ongoing ministry.
+ PRAY FOR THE GROWTH OF MINISTRIES WE PARTNER WITH
As a Church we cannot do everything ourselves. But our efforts are increased by working in relationship with other churches in the village of Brookhouse, our Circuit, our District, Green Pastures Church in Ireland. Pray for their success and thank God that together we can do more!
PRAY FOR … THE PROVISION OF THE HOUSE
‘Your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God… overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God… Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’ (2 Corinthians 9:10-15)
‘You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:19 Message)
When you consider all that we have accomplished since we launch this ministry it will lead you to one inescapable conclusion that a Spirit of generosity has been released on this house to make the impossible possible. We have learned to step out and trust God for finance based on a conviction that money follows ministry. We believe that his will is his bill. As we do what we can, God sees our desire to serve him and reach people, and blesses it with resources. God is so good!
But there is still so much we want to do, so today let’s pray for the financial prosperity of our Church and its various income streams.
+ PRAY that God will supply all we need to fulfil both our current commitments and our ministry dreams as we continue to generously sow into the lives of those we are reaching, discipling and releasing.
+ PRAY for the financial prosperity of every member of the Church family. Pray for God to bless them with success in the workplace, in their business, for better jobs, for promotions, for salary increases and rewards appropriate to their investment of life and skills.
+ PRAY that God will release creative ideas that will be translated into profitable and successful businesses so that his people be blessed so they can be a blessing.
+ PRAY for those who handle our money and make financial decisions – our Leadership team, Church Council and Treasurer. Pray they will have wisdom to manage the finance we have effectively as good stewards of God’s resources.
PRAY FOR… AN EXPANDING HOUSE
‘And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God’
‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.’ (Isaiah 54:2)
In 2012 we are committed to growing as a Church Family. We need to bathe our efforts in prayer because through self-effort alone we will never grow to be the people God wants us to be in both quality and quantity. So today, let’s pray that we will be a growing House!
+ PRAY FOR PERSONAL GROWTH
Enlargement starts in you. God wants to enlarge your spiritual stature this year. Your faith will be enlarged as you work with a big God and step out in new ways, do new things, reach new people and break out of your comfort zone. The process will mean putting down deep roots into God by spending time in his Word and in prayer. It means individually ‘lengthening your cords’ and ‘strengthening your stakes’.
+ PRAY FOR RELATIONAL GROWTH
I wonder who is waiting to meet you in 2012? This year, push back the boundaries of your social environment and meet some new people. Pray that as you reach out to new people both in and outside the church, you will find relationship that enrich your life and grow the church family.
+ PRAY FOR NUMERICAL GROWTH
God is growing you and I for a purpose - greater enlargement! He wants our net to be large and strong to hold the coming catch. It is as we each commit to grow with God and grow together, that he will reward our faith with the great harvest we are all praying for.
+ PRAY FOR GROWTH IN INFLUENCE
Pray for the success of our growing influence across our community and city. Pray that BMC will be salt-seasoning bringing out the God flavours on our community and be light like a city on a hill that gives hope and bring transformation to our community and city. Pray for open doors into schools where we are beginning to see growth and increased opportunities to serve and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pray for favour with local Councillors, Head Teachers, Police, Community Officers, Business Leaders, Opinion Formers and Church Leaders.
PRAY FOR… A SPIRITUAL HOUSE
‘For we are the temple of the living God … a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit’
(2 Corinthians 6:16 & Ephesians 2:22)
Church was never meant to be just a social experience but is always first and foremost a spiritual one. So, today let’s pray that we remain a truly spiritual House.
When we gather as ‘living stones’, each individually filled with God’s spirit, we constitute God’s House. He is always present to speak, act, release, empower and envision. He gives wisdom to the confused, heals the hurting, hope to the hopeless and fresh faith to the doubters. God knows everyone present, speaks to them individually and intervenes in their life as they release faith to him.
+ As we worship, pray that God transforms our perspective. We see things from where he sits, far above everything that troubles us. As we give thanks, sing, adore Jesus and encourage one another, miracles are taking place – this is a supernatural environment.
+ As the Word is preached, pray that ‘light-bulbs’ of revelation will be coming on in people’s minds and hearts. The Word feeds, informs and shapes our understanding. It challenges us to make strong decisions to live for Christ and causes faith to rise in our heart to believe for better things.
+ As we pray together, things change! God hears and responds to our faith-filled requests and does what we can never do alone. God is for us, in us and works through us. He is our all-in-all.
+ As strangers enter this ‘spiritual house’ pray that they feel welcomed, loved and included. In the non-judgmental environment of our worship and celebration they begin to feel at home. As they gradually release their ‘baggage’ to God and receive his new life, they become one of the family.
+ Today is Sunday! It’s time to gather as God’s House where our spirituality is strengthened and sharpened. Come expectant, excited and believing for good things. You are coming for a spiritual experience, an encounter with God, a fresh word of encouragement, a word of heavenly wisdom for life on earth. You are coming to meet Jesus who dwells in his gathered people: ‘For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them’ said Jesus. (Matthew 18:20).
So, let’s ‘Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise’ (Psalm 100:4) as we gather to celebrate the start of the best year of our lives!
And, whatever 2012 brings, devote yourself to prayer. Keep the momentum of this forty day feast of prayer alive as you go forward by ‘not being anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God’ (Philippians 4:6).
PRAY FOR…A HEALTHY HOUSE
‘I pray … for your good health’ (3 John 1:2 Message)
A praying church is a healthy church! We all need our health because our mission is urgent; the lost need reaching and our community needs a thriving, relevant local Church like never before. We just are too busy to be ill.
So let’s start our prayer and fasting by praying for the good health of the church:
+ PRAY FOR THE GOOD HEALTH OF EVERY PERSON IN THE CHURCH
Whether you know them or not: Pray that we all will have health, energy, vitality and strength to do our best and be our best for Christ. Jesus said that he had come ‘to give us life in all its fullness’, an abundant life (John 10:10). That ‘life’ includes a quality of health that is outstanding. So let’s join together in prayer for Christ’s quality of life to increasingly emerge in ours.
+ PRAY FOR SPECIFIC INDIVIDUALS WHO YOU KNOW ARE SICK
Name them and ask God to heal and restore them. The Bible says that ‘The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up… Therefore, pray for each other so that you may be healed’ (James 5:15-16).
+ PRAY FOR WISDOM TO LIVE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Pray for wisdom to avoid all sin because this ‘will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones’ (Proverbs 3:8). Pray that we will all embrace and live out God’s Word and ways because ‘they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body’ (Proverbs 4:22). Pray that we all get a good night’s sleep and plenty of exercise!
In the words of King David, let’s pray: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!’ (1 Samuel 25:6).
Pray today that we will be a healthy house
PRAY FOR… THE LEADERS OF THE HOUSE
‘Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you’ (Hebrews 13:7)
We are blessed to have a hard-working Stewards team, leadership team and leaders of various ministries all working together for the benefit and growth of everyone in the church. So, today, let’s remember our leaders by praying specifically for them. This is one of the best ways you can support the leadership and ensure the church is strengthened through them.
+ YOUR PRAYERS HELP THEM LEAD WELL
Leadership is a great privilege and responsibility, which the leaders of this church take seriously. Our desire is to be servant-leaders like Jesus taught us to be. This takes skill, wisdom and the support of a great church family. So, in the words of the Apostle Paul, pray for us because we are confident God will give us the wisdom we need to lead you well, ‘as you help us by your prayers’ (2 Corinthians 1:10).
+ YOUR PRAYERS PROTECT THE CHURCH
Jesus once used the analogy of sheep and their shepherd to make the point that if a leader is taken out by the enemy, it is the people who suffer. He said, ’strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter’ (Mark 14:27). So by praying for your leaders, you are protecting the direction, togetherness and cohesion of the whole church family.
+ YOUR PRAYERS SHAPE A PEACEFUL CHURCH ENVIRONMENT
‘I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives’ (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Good leadership creates an environment in which people can live life to the full and reach their potential. Churches thrive when in peace. Pray that every leader of every team across the church will have the skill and wisdom to create that kind of life-giving environment as we grow in 2012.
So, pray for your leaders today. Remember the Minister, Youth Workers, Stewards, Lay Leaders, and the leaders covering Youth Work , Sunday School and Junior Church, Worship, Prayer ministry, Prayer meeting, Evangelism and Outreach, and all who carry responsibility for taking the church forward into 2012. Because we believe that ‘Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many’ (2 Corinthians 1:11).