I’m over at Exemplify Online’s blog today with my LOGOS series, talking about longsuffering. Come visit me and the other ladies at Exemplify!
What I’m Learning
Gina is the hostess for What are YOU learning? at her blog Chats With an “Old Lady“. Be sure to head over and read what she and others are learning, and even join in by sharing what you’re learning too!
Thanks to all you who answered my little prayer and fasting poll.
Looks like most of us are like me, we fast and pray when there’s a need or a crisis.
I wanted to share some of what God is teaching me personally about prayer and fasting since I recently (at the start of this year) began dedicating some time to regularly doing just that, rather than only resorting to prayer and fasting in a crisis.
Over the next couple of “What are you learning?” fridays, I’ll share on this topic.
Today I wanted to share a little bit of treasure I discovered in the back of the book Edges of His Ways- Daily devotional notes by Amy Charmichael.
Before I do that though, real quick, I just want to say I realize that there is definintly a place for prayer and fasting in a crisis or need and that’s not to be discounted. Daniel, Ezra, Esther and others all model that for us. But what I’m learning is that there’s a place for the initmate time of prayer and fasting on a REGULAR basis in our walks with Christ. I’m learning that this regular practice really builds up our spiritual muscles. But more on that later.
On one of the first days of prayer and fasting this year I was overwhelmed with confusion and doubts and bondage about HOW to fast and pray. Then I discovered the section below. I’m only going to share some key pieces of it because it’s four pages long. But I HIGHLY recommend the book! I pray it helps you as much as it has me:
Note on Prayer and Fasting
This not is to those to whom the idea of “prayer and fasting” is new, and who are rather puzzled about it.
First, what does it mean?
It means a determined effort to put first things first, even at the cost of some inconvenience to oneself. It means a setting of the will towards God. It means shutting out as much as possible all interrupting things. For the thing that matters is that one cares enough to have time with God, and to say no to that in oneself which clamors for a good meal and perhaps conversation. It is that which is of value to our LORD. Such a setting of the will Godward is never a vain thing. “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me in vain.” (Isa. 45:19)
But we must in earnest. “When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” (Psa. 27:8)
A few simple Dont’s:
Don’t get into bondage about place of position of the body. Where did our Lord spend His hours of prayer? We know how crowded and stuffy Eastern houses are; we know that sometimes, at least, He went out into the open air to a hillside; to a garden. Where did Elijah spend the long time of waiting on his God? Again, out in the open air. I have known some who could kneel for hours by a chair. I have known others who could not. David “sat before the Lord.” (2 Sam. 7:18) Some find help in going out of doors and walking up and down; this was Bishop Moule’s way. Some go into their room and shut their door. Do not be in bondage. Let the leaning of your mind lead you; a God-directed mind leans to what helps the spirit most.
Dont’ be discouraged if at first you seem to get nowhere. I think there is no command in the whole Bible so difficult to obey and so penetrating in power as the command to be still- “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psa. 46:10) Many have found this so.
Don’t feel it necessary to pray at all times; listen. Solomon asked for a hearing heart (1 Kings 3:9). It may be that the Lord wants to search the ground of your heart, not the top layer, but the ground. Give Him time to do this. And read the Words of Life. Let them enter into you.
Don’t forget there is one other person interested in you- extremely interested; he will talk, probably quite vehemently… As far as I know the only way to silence his talk is to read or say aloud (or recall to mind) cournter-words, “It is written… it is written… it is written”; or to sing, for the devil detests song… But let the Spirit lead as to what to read. “Let thy loving Spirit lead me forth into the land of righteousness.” (Psalm 143:10)
Don’t give up in despair if no thoughts and no words come, but only distractions and inward confusions. Often it helps to use the words of others, making them one’s own. Psalm, hymn, song- use whatever helps most.
Don’t worry if you fall asleep, “He giveth unto His beloved in sleep.” (Psa. 127:2)
And if the day ends in what seems failure, don’t fret. Tell HIM about it. Tell Him you’re sorry. Even so, dont’ be discouraged. All discouragement is of the devil…. Then let your soul hang on Him. “My soul hangeth upon Thee” (Psa. 63:9)- not upon my happiness in prayer, but just upon Thee. Tell Him you are sorry, and fall back on the old words: “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee”- unworthy as I am. Let these words comfort your heart: “The Lord lifteth up all those that are down.” (Psalm 145:14) “CAst not away your confidence,” there is a “great recompense of reward” waiting for you a little later on. (Heb.10:35)
Maybe it will be quite different. “Sometimes a light surprises the Christian when he sings,” or waits with his heart set upon access to his God; and he is bathed in wonder that to such dust of the earth such revelations of love can be given. If so it be, to Him be the praise. It is all of Him.
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” -Hebrews 13:20-21
Redeeming the time