For the month of October 2018, God called us as a whole community to seek Him in prayer and fasting.
This is not something we have done as a whole church, for a whole month – ever before! More daunting than that, was the fact that God asked us not to use this time to bring our requests to Him. He assured us that He already knows all our needs and wanted to just enjoy time with us!
This quote from RT Kendall was a powerful catalyst as we ventured into the unknown: “I cannot imagine a greater motivation to pray than that God enjoys having me in His presence. He enjoys my company. He delights in listening to me! He doesn’t get bored with me, there is no rejection, only total acceptance”
We agreed four ways we would focus our prayers corporately: 1) Firstly, we set our alarms for 12 noon each day to pray the Lord’s Prayer. Whilst this seemed like a fun idea at first, by the end of the month, it was clear that God had placed us in some pretty amazing places to ask for ‘His Kingdom to come’ or to ‘deliver us from evil’ – gyms, offices, hospitals, schools, business meetings, playparks, and even the Houses of Parliament! The interruptions of grace in our daily lives all over the city and nation gave us a new rhythm of reliance on God. We learned that when you pray the words of Jesus, you end up living them too!
2) Secondly, we set up a prayer room in the church, which we made accessible Monday – Friday (9am-4pm) for the whole month, with copies of the Bible, the Lord’s Prayer, TryPraying booklets and some blank journals for folks to begin a conversation with God. This quickly became a place of tangible peace and presence, to spend a few minutes or hours seeking Him.
3) Thirdly, we hosted three evenings of prayer throughout the month. These were great times of worship and waiting. One was a city-wide gathering to pray for Teen Challenge, a fantastic local charity whose vision is to help the addicted break free. A call to pray and fast is always a call to the mission of Jesus in and around us.
4) Lastly, we made an intentional emphasis on inviting people to our pre-service prayer meeting every Sunday morning throughout October. Some days there were so many people that the room we normally use was too small! This became a joy rather than a duty, and there was a real atmosphere of expectation as we listened to the voice of the Spirit through one another before starting our main service.
Fasting proved to be a really uncomfortable journey in our consumer culture. Traditionally, fasting is a private thing between the individual and God (like giving), but people were open and free in discussing what and how they were fasting. A gentle but firm reminder was needed that the key for all of us – whether fasting food, coffee, TV or other things we run to – was, are we running to God instead? Are we emptying ourselves for His fullness? Or are we just pleased with our own efforts?
From the millennials fasting Netflix to the mums fasting chocolate to the businessmen fasting coffee, we experienced a growing hunger for God. It was incredible to hear honest testimonies at the end of the month saying how dissatisfied people were when they went back to the thing they had fasted. Some people have left TV, coffee or chocolate behind for good, as they have tasted and seen that God is SO good!
Many people’s alarms are still set for mid-day and we continue to welcome the interruptions of grace as we pray “Your Kingdome come, Your will be done…”
Simon has been part of the church family at Sheddocksley Baptist Church since moving to Aberdeen in 1996, where he now serves as lead pastor. Simon is married to Karen and together they raise 3 bouncing boys who give them endless joy and exhaustion all at the same time. His greatest pleasures in life other than family are football, coffee, and music… not always in that order!