The Mystery of Fasting Prayer

In the past few months, I’ve felt God leading me to set aside a particular day each week to fast and pray. At first, I wasn’t excited at all about this. At one time, fasting once a week for the purpose of prayer was a regular part of my life, but in recent years I haven’t practiced it.

Fasting is referred to several times in the Old Testament and was commonly practiced by believers in New Testament times.

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. Ezra 8:23

Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. Acts 14:23

I decided on a particular day of the week  to fast. I didn’t think I could go 24 hours without food so I asked the Lord how long my fast should be. Then, in that soul-whisper voice that God uses to speak to us, I sensed Him say, “Just until 3 pm.” A few weeks later, while I was visiting my mother, my sister, Brenda, also visiting, began to tell me how God was leading her to fast for a day each week. Then she said, “Just until  three in the afternoon.”

Why three o’clock, I wondered. Three is an important number in the Bible and it appears many times.

  • Three is the number of divine perfection – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • On the third day of creation, the earth rose up out of the water (Gen. 1:13).
  • On the third day Jesus rose up out of the grave (Luke 24).
  • Peter denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:54-62).
  • When Jesus was on the cross, darkness fell from noon to 3 pm (Luke 25:44,45).

Most important of all, after the three hours of darkness, at three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus died. His last words on the cross were, “It is finished.” Divine perfection. Jesus, the only Son of God became the once-and-for-all sacrifice for the sin of the entire world.

I didn’t think about the significance of three o’clock in the afternoon when I first heard the whisper of it. Now that I have thought about it, it makes sense. It’s the hour of completion.

On the subject of fasting prayer, I share this experience from a number of years ago:

My husband, Doug, knew he was coming to the end of his employment with a major Canadian company. His commissions had decreased while frustrations increased. The writing was on the wall: the company would be eliminating positions like his. We prayed for wisdom and for a new door of employment to open. Nothing happened.

Then we set aside a weekend for fasting and prayer. Monday morning came. I awoke with the thought that Doug should call a certain business owner. This man had asked him on several occasions to work for him, but he hadn’t been ready to leave his present job and he wasn’t excited about selling the product this man’s company produced.

Doug called. The business owner said he’d been searching for a top-notch salesman. He wanted a Christian but knew he couldn’t include that in an ad so he had simply prayed for God to send the right man. Doug was that man. This job lasted only one year. But, that year was a transition period. It gave him time to prepare for a new career in finance and investing which he’s still doing today.

Fasting often moves stubborn problems. When His disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t drive demons out of an afflicted man, Jesus said, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Jesus also said that the Father rewards fasting and prayer (Matthew 6:18).

Perhaps the Lord is nudging many of His followers to fast and pray. I think He is. And I think it’s because there’s an urgency for people to hear God calling them into His Kingdom. The minutes are ratcheting up. The end is nearer than we thought.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:37-38

Fasting remains a bit mystifying. Why do our prayers have added strength when we go without food? I don’t have an answer that satisfies. Suffice to know that God calls His people to fast. And we must obey.

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Say to This Mountain

Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and it will be done. Mark 11:23

Ilse Jancke’s husband, Max, was released from the hospital under strict orders to remain calm and avoid any stressful situations. The following morning, a snow storm dumped a mountain of snow on their property. Ilse’s four sons who usually took care of plowing the yard and clearing out another of their commercial properties, had all been called out to other snow removal jobs. Ilse called on her daughter and the two began operating the family plow. Upon finishing the first property, they arrived home to clear the main driveway which served as the public entrance to their store. As the blade dropped for the first sweep, the transmission on the plow died.

Max immediately stepped out onto the porch, a worried look on his face. Ilse raced into the house and began to do the only thing she knew would help. “I laid my dilemma at Jesus’ feet,” she said. “I paced back and forth praising the Lord in a loud voice, so loud that at times I would see my husband turn and look back at the house wondering what was going on. I continued to praise the Lord over this situation, asking him to remove this mountain of snow. About fifteen minutes later a family friend happened to pass by and stopped. He opened both entrances to the store driveway and had the broken-down plow removed from the snow bank.”

Ilse paced and prayed again. “Dear God we need a tow truck to take the plow to the transmission shop.” How would God send a tow truck in such a big storm? Every truck and plow in the area was in use. As she continued to pray a neighbour arrived home for lunch.

This man happened to have a truck and he towed the plow to the repair shop.
Ilse prayed on, desperate to relieve her sick husband of all worries. “Lord, I need the transmission fixed quickly and cheaply.” By seven o’clock that night the plow was sitting in the yard with a new transmission. The bill that arrived with it read: Paid in Full.

God removes mountains. Even ones made of snow.

Prayer: thank you God that you’re still in the business of moving mountains, even ones made of snow.

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S.O.S. Prayers

Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. Psalm 102:1,2

After traveling three hours to speak at a women’s meeting, I developed a raging headache. I sat in the front row my pain-filled head in my hands, too sick to care if I looked foolish.
I sent an SOS prayer up to the Lord for help. A steel band encompassed my head. The pain increased. Through the singing and other formalities I despaired. Should I tell the person next to me to inform the leader that I was too sick to speak?

In answer to my prayer, this thought came – when your name is called the headache will disappear.

One hour into the meeting, headache in full throttle, the leader took the microphone. She said how happy they were to have me as their guest and called me to the podium. At the very moment she uttered my name the pain began to lift. The steel band broke. I stood and began walking to the platform. With each step, the headache lessened. By the time I took the microphone it had vanished.

God could’ve relieved me of pain an hour earlier – I would’ve preferred that. Sometimes He wants us to experience human weakness to the point that we have no other choice but to send up earnest SOS prayers for immediate help.

Prayer, Lord, thank you that the prayer of a righteous man (or woman) is powerful and effective (James 5:16) not because we’re strong but because You are.

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Basic Prayer

Call on me when you are in trouble and I will rescue you and you will give me glory. Psalm 50:15 (NLT)

The most basic of prayers is expressed in three words: God help me.

Someone said that prayer is the language of people who are in trouble and know it. Trouble comes to everyone – sometimes it sneaks up on us. Other times, it marches into our lives in brazen battalions. However it comes, trouble always reduces our prayers to a primitive cry to God for help. And praying is the best thing anyone in trouble can do.
Matthew 15 tells the story of a woman who, when she heard that Jesus was near, ran into the crowd and begged him to heal her daughter of a fatal affliction. She screamed and shouted until the disciples complained of the disturbance.

Undeterred, she pushed her way through the crowd and threw herself at Jesus’ feet. “Master, help me,” she cried. Jesus said, “Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you will get!” At that moment her daughter became well.

The prayer, “God help me!” shows that the person saying these words has faith. No one calls on God unless they have an inkling that He exists and that He’ll do something about their situation. Who can form eloquent words when trouble stands at the door? And who requires eloquent words? Not God.

“God help me!” These three words have echoed down the centuries from the mouths of the righteous, the wronged, the sick, the unemployed, the burdened, the broken, the heathen, the holy, the desperate and the dumb. And God heard every one of them.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that Heaven will be filled by people who have uttered this basic prayer – God help me.

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Saving Prayer

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

When I was fourteen, my cousin convinced me to attend an evening church service. I’d been attending Sunday School at this church for years but had never been to a service, never heard a sermon. After the pastor gave the message, he invited everyone to the lower sanctuary (a lofty description for any part of this shack-like building). I followed because it seemed the only thing to do. When I knelt with others at a crude wooden bench, the young pastor’s wife came and knelt beside me.

“Would you like to ask Jesus to come into your heart?” she asked. I had no idea what she meant but I knew the right answer was yes.

I repeated after her a brief prayer that went something like this: Lord Jesus, I recognize that I’m a sinner and that you died on the cross so my sins could be forgiven. Please come into my heart and take away all my sin. Amen.

I went home, went to bed and woke up a new person. When my eyes opened that morning, I felt different. Everything around seemed fresh and exciting. Even trees and grass appeared greener. Jesus had come to live in me and I was changed. After that, I attended church without being coerced by my mother.

Years later, the woman who prayed with me, Bev Friesen, said she wondered whether anything had happened to me because I had no tears nor any other show of emotion. Repenters often do.

The Lord took my words seriously even though I didn’t understand what they meant.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that every lost person is only one prayer away from Heaven.

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Jesus Prays for You

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31

The same Peter who walked on water and performed miracles in the name of Jesus failed when Satan tempted him. Peter, of the inner-circle three, denied Jesus three times. Peter, who pledged to die for Jesus, jumped on the Judas traitor train. Haven’t we all failed?

Haven’t we all in some way denied our Lord?

Jesus knew Peter. He understood Peter’s propensity for compromise. The pressure Peter felt as he watched the crucifixion unfold was extreme. Satan’s maniacal plan was at its zenith. Peter succumbed to evil forces. In this deep hour of temptation, Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would endure. The Father answered the Son’s prayer. Peter realized his sin. He cried and repented. He turned back as Jesus said he would. That made all the difference between him and Judas. Judas completed his betrayal journey. Peter repented.

Jesus understands our weaknesses. He is always praying for us (Heb. 7:25). He prays that we will be victorious in temptation. That we will repent of our shortcomings. Peter went on to preach the gospel and heal the sick. He taught the scriptures, encouraged believers, and in the end, died for Jesus. If we turn back to Jesus, our failures won’t define us.
Today, Jesus is raising our names before the Father.

After much prayer, careful study and reliance on the Holy Spirit, I have concluded this about Christ’s intercession for us. Jesus died on the cross to purchase peace with God for me – and He is in heaven now to maintain that peace, for me and in me.” David Wilkerson

Prayer: Jesus, thank you that my name is on your lips today. It means everything to me to know that you are praying for me. This thought fills my heart with joy.

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Taking Risks

Image result for photo, cat on a limbThere’s a basic need for significance ingrained in our natures. We need to sense that our contribution to the big picture matters. Significance doesn’t mean becoming famous. It doesn’t mean we’re the best at what we do; it simply means we feel better about ourselves when we step forward and offer our unique contribution. Doing that is risky. Perhaps people won’t like our offering. They might not get us. And, worst of all, they might reject us.
The first time I submitted an article to a magazine, I tortured myself with visions of the editor exclaiming, “I’ve never read such rubbish in my life!” The reason I wrote the article and submitted it was that I really believed God had given me something to say. But, after I slipped the envelope into the mailbox, (that tells you how long ago I submitted this article), I was so terrified of rejection, I could hardly breathe.
In a month or two (that’s a long time to hold one’s breath), the editor wrote back. He said he’d be happy to publish my piece and if I had anything else to write, to please send it to him. My writer’s heart leaped for joy.
Taking risks for worthy reasons adds exhilaration to life and increases our sense of significance.
Choose Significance, not Security. Many God-called people let God-given ideas lie dormant because they fear failure or rejection. God is writing a story in each person’s life. Our pages hum with joy, grief, pain and pleasure but no novel is complete without adventure. The adventure chapters in our stories chronicle the times we’ve chosen significance over security, the times we’ve knocked on strangers’ doors, uncertain whether we’d even arrived at the right address.
Is God pressing you to move in a certain direction? To step forward and offer your services? To do something that is out of your comfort zone? Are you nervous about taking a risk?
If we don’t risk following wherever He leads, we’ll never know the joy of crawling out on a limb and finding ourselves exactly where He wants us to be.


Rose McCormick Brandon writes books, articles, devotionals, and occasionally, short stories. She’s the author of Promises of Home – Canada’s British Home Children. She speaks at libraries and historical organizations on the top of The Home Children. On the subject of faith in Jesus Christ, she speaks at women’s gatherings and churches. Her other blog, Promises of Home is here. 


 

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A Door to the New Year

Doors of Canadian Parliament

In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the LORD and repaired them. 2 Chronicles 29:3

Young King Hezekiah, devout and earnest, ascended to the throne of Israel after the idolatrous reign of his father, Ahaz. How joyful the people were to discover that this new king had the heart of his ancestor, David, and not that of his evil father.
The first thing Hezekiah did was open up the temple and repair its doors. This act set the tone for his reign. God first. Jesus taught us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things (other necessities) will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).
Led by their godly ruler, the nation of Israel repented of their sins. They committed to serving God wholeheartedly and with holiness. What a way to begin a new year. Out with old sins and the neglect of spiritual things. A good year awaits, one that gives God first place.
Are the gates of your temple in disrepair? Has Bible reading and prayer taken a backseat to other seemingly good activities? The beginning of a new year is a good time to press the re-set button and put things in order.
Under Hezekiah’s leadership, revival swept Israel. Leaders who had followed the previous king into idol worship confessed their sins, rid their homes of false gods and made a new commitment to live in obedience to God. That makes my heart yearn for godliness in our own country. Oh for leaders who aren’t afraid to mention the Lord or to acknowledge that they depend on Him for guidance and wisdom.

In this new year, 2019, let’s make a fresh commitment to open wide the doors of our hearts and pray for our families, our cities and our country.

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Wisdom

Of all the attributes missing in society, wisdom tops the list. People may be well-read and possess degrees, and still lack wisdom. The purpose of Proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise (Proverbs 1:2). In all our accumulating we should put wisdom first.

Selwyn Hughes tells how shortly after He became a follower of Jesus, his pastor said, “I am going to teach you to steal, to drink, to lie and to swear.” Seeing young Selwyn’s confused expression, the pastor went to say, “I want to teach you how to steal time out of every day to read something from the book of Proverbs and then, I want to teach you how to drink from its clear, refreshing waters, to lie on your bed at night and meditate on its great themes, and to swear that by the grace of God you will put into practice its wonderful teaching.”

The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge – its starting point and its essence; but fools despise skillful and godly wisdom, instruction and discipline. Proverbs 1:7

Wisdom is the ability to use the knowledge we have. Knowledge by itself can produce good, but when advanced by wisdom it becomes extremely beneficial. In speaking about John the Baptist, Jesus said, “Wisdom is proved right by her actions” (Matthew 11:19). The way John lived proved he not only had knowledge of holy things, he possessed the wisdom needed to carry out his purpose as the way-maker for Jesus.

A person can know about the solar system, history, psychology, medicine, and have total recall of everything they read. Yet, in the matter of holy things, a child, or someone others may consider simple, can display a higher level of wisdom and understanding. Jesus prayed: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike” (Matthew 11:15).

God chooses people, not based on human intelligence, but on their willingness to look to Him for wisdom. He’s the fount of all wisdom (I Corinthians 1:26). One of the gifts the Holy Spirit endows is wisdom (I Corinthians 12:8). This wisdom is supernatural and it comes from God alone. It can’t be manufactured.

Do you want to be wise? Read Proverbs. Ask God for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). 

Prayer: Lord, without wisdom I’ll make a mess of things. I’ll say and do what I shouldn’t and not say and do what I should. For your wisdom I pray.

“The more you understand the book of Proverbs, and the more you put its truths and principles into practice, the more effective will be your living. I guarantee it.” Selwyn Hughes


Rose McCormick Brandon is author of One Good Word Makes all the Difference, Promises of Home – Stories of Canada’s British Home Children and co-authored other books, as well as many magazine articles, devotionals and personal experience pieces. A member of The Word Guild, Rose has received awards for her personal experience pieces. Visit her website Writing from the Heart. She has a faith blog, Listening to my Hair Grow and a British Home Child blog, Promises of Home.

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His Name is a Blessing

They shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. Numbers 6:27

The names of my three children come up in my prayers more often than any others. As a young parent I discovered the promise of Numbers 6:27 and it has guided my prayers for my children. This promise follows the familiar Aaronic blessing: God bless you and keep you, God smile on you and keep you and gift you, God look you full in the face and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26 NLT).
When we bless people we place the name of our God on them.
I envision the name of Jesus imprinted on my children’s foreheads signifying they belong to Him. He’s the only One who loves them more than their father and me. Wrapped up in that name – Jesus – is a blessing. I bless them with my love and prayers, but He blesses them with a peace that overflows with life, a gift far greater than I can give.
They began life in the sanctuary of my womb, hidden from the world in that secret place. He knew them long before I did (Psalm 139). He blessed them before my lips could form their names. I’m familiar with their ways. I see traits that have existed in them from their earliest days, yet in comparison to God, I’m only beginning to know them. He hears their thoughts, understands their intricate personalities. He gets them, even when I don’t. I dearly love and cherish my children, but His love for them is multiplied more times than I can count.
The name of Jesus – the greatest name in all the world – is etched on my children, and now on their spouses and my grandchildren. He will bless them with an eternal, magnificent blessing that far exceeds my blessing.

Take this promise to heart. Place His Name on your children and entrust their well-being into the hands of the One who will bestow His immeasurable blessing on them.

Father, thank you for the power of the name of Jesus, the name that embodies all the light and life a person needs for a lifetime. My children are blessed because of your Name.

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