We will devote a week to prayer and fasting together at the end of January, ending with a morning of prayer at the church on Saturday 2nd February from 9 am to 1 pm. Here is the programme for the week and for the morning of prayer. It contains prayers and readings for each day and the second half explains what fasting is all about and how you may like to join in fasting during that week.
You can download all this here –
Week of Prayer and Fasting Booklet NSBC A5 2019
Sunday 27th Jan Morning Service including Renewal of
Baptism Promises 10.30 am
An Hour of Prayer 6.30-7.30 pm
Monday 28th Prayer Meeting at church from 6 pm to 7 pm
Tuesday 29th Draw Near to God Prayer Meeting 8-9 pm
Wednesday 30th Prayer Meeting 8-9 pm
Thursday 31st Pray at home or in 2s and 3s
Friday 1st Feb. Prayer Meeting at Church 6-7 pm
Saturday 2nd Morning of Prayer at Church 9 am to 1 pm
Sunday 3rd Morning Family Service
Every day we will be drawing close to God and asking Him to speak to us, to guide us and encourage us and inspire us all. We will be praying for our church activities and especially our outreach and evangelism. We will be praying for our town and for our world in all its different needs. We will be praying asking God to speak to us, to guide us individually and as a church and to encourage and inspire us all. This booklet gives a theme for each day of prayer and a good prayer to get you started.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
Repentance and Confession
Merciful God, I confess to you now that I have sinned.
I confess the sins that no one knows
and the sins that everyone knows;
the sins that are a burden to me
and the sins that do not bother me
because I have got used to them.
We confess our sins as a church.
We have not loved one another as Christ has loved us.
We have not given ourselves in love and service for the world
as Christ gave Himself for us.
Father, forgive us.
Send the Holy Spirit to us, that He may give us power
to live in the way that, by your mercy, you have called us to live.
I confess that I have lived superficially.
I have pushed to the back of my mind the questions that trouble me.
I have not found time to face the emotions that disturb me.
I have hidden from life behind habit, activity and entertainments.
I have avoided You, God, even as you came after me.
In my relationships I have given less than my whole self,
and have been closed to receiving from others
what they wished to give me of themselves.
I have responded to needs for justice with a hard heart.
I have allowed imagination and sympathy to wither.
Routine has been my ally and honesty my dread.
Lord God, we have shut ourselves up.
Come after us again, knock once more, that we may open up to meet others, rediscover ourselves, know your love, and live again. AMEN
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. I anyone hears my voice
and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
Sunday 27th An Hour of Prayer – 6.30-7.30 pm
For the actions which have angered You, we are truly sorry.
For the words which have wounded You, we are truly sorry.
For the thoughts which have betrayed You, we are truly sorry.
Jesus, Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. Jesus, bearer of our sins: have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world: give us Your peace. AMEN
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-6)
Lord God, creator of all things, for your love for humankind: for your love for each person: for the great and mysterious opportunity of life: for the life of your Spirit within us: for the gifts of your Spirit: we praise and worship you; through Jesus Christ.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Monday 28th Prayer at church from 6 pm to 7 pm
Praise and Adoration
Almighty God, for the times we have been too proud to acknowledge Your part in our lives, we are sorry. Forgive us Lord. For the times we have been too proud to serve You by serving others, we are sorry. Forgive us Lord. For the times we have been ashamed and responded by trying to hide things from You we are sorry. Forgive us Lord. For the times we have not told the whole truth, to others or to You, we are sorry. Forgive us Lord. For the times when You have shown us Your presence and we have still doubted, we are sorry. Forgive us Lord. For the times You have answered us and we have forgotten to thank You, we are sorry. Forgive us Lord. AMEN
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Oh Lord open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever, AMEN
Creator God, you have made the world in which we live and you have given us life. Merciful and compassionate Father, we praise and adore you.
Lord Jesus Christ, you have shown us the wonder and the cost of love through your life and through your death upon the cross. Risen Lord, we praise and adore you.
Life-giving Spirit, you renew and empower us to live as children of God and followers of Jesus. Spirit of love and hope, of joy and peace, we praise and adore you.
Tuesday 29th Draw Near to God Prayer Meeting 8-9 pm
Interceding for our family, friends, neighbours and community
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart (Mark 12:30)
You shall love your neighbour as you love yourself (Mark 12:31)
You shall love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34)
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, let me bring hope;
where there is darkness, let me bring light;
and where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Wednesday 30th Church Members’ Meeting at 8 pm
Interceding for our church’s people, activities and outreach and seeking guidance for the future
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:18-20)
Lord, remembering the depth of Your love to us, we repent of our half-hearted discipleship. We have been called to deny ourselves: forgive us for putting self-interest before the interests of Your Kingdom; forgive us that Christ’s Lordship in our hearts has been challenged by our ambition, our appetites, our desires and our needs;
forgive us for not being self-forgetful in our care for other people. Lord, we have been called to carry a cross: forgive us for complaining when it has weighed heavily upon us; forgive us that, having received so much, we have sacrificed so little; forgive us for the limits we have set to Christian love; forgive us that we have settled for mediocrity, resisting the fire and passion of Christ’s love upon the cross.
Forgive us Lord. AMEN
Teach us Good Lord to serve you as you deserve;
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labour and not to ask for any reward,
Except that of knowing that we do your will.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
Thursday 31st Pray at home or in 2s and 3s
Asking God to guide you in your personal life and witness
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
Lord I am willing to be made willing.
I am desirous that Thy will shall be done in me, and through me,
As thoroughly as it is done in heaven.
Come and take me and break me and remake me.
And now I give myself to Thee, in life and in death,
In the dark and in the light, in sorrow and in joy;
To be Thine only, wholly and forever.
Make the most of me that can be made, for Thy glory,
O Thou who livest and reignest, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
One God, world without end, AMEN
JESUS TAKE ME AS I AM, I can come no other way.
Take me deeper into You, Make my flesh life melt away.
Make me like a precious stone, Crystal clear and finely honed,
Life of Jesus shining through, Giving glory back to You.
Friday 29th Prayer Meeting at Church 6-7 pm
Asking God to speak into our situation and guide us as a church
Saturday Morning of Prayer at Church from 9 am to 1 pm
Programme on the back page
Fasting – Showing God We Care
“In general we must hold that whenever any religious controversy arises, which either a council or ecclesiastical tribunal behooves to decide; whenever a minister is to be chosen; whenever, in short any matter of difficulty and great importance is under consideration: on the other hand, when manifestations of the divine anger appear, as pestilence, war, and famine, the sacred and salutary custom of all ages has been for pastors to exhort the people to public fasting and extraordinary prayer.”
(John Calvin, Institutes, IV, 12, 14)
What is fasting?
Fasting is deliberately abstaining from food for religious purposes. It is not dieting. A ‘normal’ fast involves continuing to drink water but not eating foods. An ‘absolute’ fast, neither eating nor drinking, is very rare in the Bible. For some Christians fasting means replacing normal meals with lighter foods or much smaller portions. For others it means missing meals altogether. Many spend the time which would have been used for preparing and eating the meal in prayer. Others continue with their usual activities using the pangs of hunger as prompts to prayer. Some medical conditions (e.g. diabetes) prevent such abstinence, but doctors generally agree that missing occasional meals can actually be beneficial to health.
Because our Lord Jesus Christ did! So also did Moses, David, Elijah, Esther, Daniel, Anna, Paul and many more. Committed Jews in Jesus’ time fasted twice a week and at the end of the First Century this was the common pattern in the Church too. Fasting has always been a part of Roman Catholic spirituality. Among great Protestants Luther and Calvin fasted. Wesley urged Methodists to fast every Wednesday and Friday, and wouldn’t ordain anyone to Ministry who didn’t fast twice a week! Many Christians in many denominations today testify to the great value of fasting. It has special value in helping us to hear God’s voice and discover His will, in the area of spiritual warfare, and as part of intercessory prayer.
Fasting in the Old Testament
Fasting was a spontaneous expression of strong feeling and emotion: a way of saying to God, ‘I really care about this.’ It is a simple act of sacrifice which shows God we really do care and we really mean business in prayer.
Fasting in preparation to meet with God or to consult God:
Then the Israelites, all the people, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the LORD. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the LORD. And the Israelites enquired of the LORD. (Judges 20:26-27)
Fasting to show sincere repentance. For example, the nation of Nineveh in Jonah 3:6-10, and also:
Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the LORD for you.” When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the LORD. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the LORD.” (1 Samuel 7:5-6)
Fasting accompanying prayer, especially intercession. See e.g. David in 2 Samuel 12:15-22, and also:
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4)
Fasting in the New Testament
Some people wrongly suggest that fasting is a part of Old Testament Law which does not apply to us as Christian. Quite the reverse. In the New Testament it was simply assumed that both Jews and Christians would fast. Jesus Himself fasted in the desert. One of the temptations was to break His fast.
In the Sermon on the Mount after the sections on the Lord’s prayer and on giving to the poor, Jesus teaches about fasting in parallel. Jesus clearly implies that all three will be a regular part of the life of a disciple: prayer, giving, fasting. Note that Jesus says ‘WHEN you fast’, not ‘IF you fast’!
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. (Matthew 6:16-18)
Jesus’s disciples did not fast while He was with them, but Jesus specifically taught them that one day, when He is not with them (i.e. NOW) his followers WILL fast (Matthew 9:14-15).
The early church often fasted, especially when they were praying about important matters, seeking guidance and commissioning.
In the church at Antioch …. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:1-3)
The benefits of fasting
Fasting in the Bible is not a commandment required for salvation but it is assumed that all disciples WILL fast from time to time as a helpful spiritual practice. Fasting must always be directed towards God and not to impress other people. in Celebration of Discipline Richard Foster comments
“Fasting must forever center on God. It must be God-initiated and God-ordained…Fasting reminds us that we are sustained by ‘every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4) … Therefore, in experiences of fasting we are not so much abstaining from food as we are feasting on the word of God. Fasting is feasting!”
Fasting, like praying and giving, is a legitimate spiritual discipline to be practiced in private between a Christian and the Lord. How often we practice it is not prescribed, because that too is between the believer and Christ. When we desire to seek God’s face more than we want dinner, that will be the proper time to fast. Spending time in Prayer and Fasting will be a sacrificial physical and bodily expression of our commitment to worshipping and witnessing together. It will focus our thinking and praying, as well as offering an opportunity for those who do not already practise fasting to discover the value of this helpful spiritual discipline.
Normally fasting involves not eating but still drinking water. It is not helpful to have a large meal as the last meal before the fast, or to over-eat to make up afterwards. For those unaccustomed to hunger, frequently sipping water or fruit juice can be very helpful. Unless there are medical reasons why you should not, as part of our Week of Prayer and Fasting you may care to join in one of the following:
From breakfast to tea-time, missing out lunch and snacks during that day and only drinking water.
A 24 hour fast
From tea-time to tea-time, missing or reducing the size of breakfast and lunch on that day.
A 36 hour fast
from tea-time to breakfast, missing or reducing the size of all meals on one day.
Jim Packer wrote, “In Scripture we see several purposes for fasting. It’s a way of sharing that we depend on God alone and draw all our strength and resources from him; it’s a way of focusing totally on him when seeking his guidance and help, and of showing that you really are in earnest in your quest; it’s also, at times, an expression of sorrow and deep repentance, something that a person or community will do in order to acknowledge failure before God and seek his mercy.”
Packer continues, “We tend to think of fasting as going without food. But we can fast from anything. If we love music and decide to miss a concert in order to spend time with God, that is fasting. It is helpful to think of the parallel of human friendship. When friends need to be together, they will cancel all other activities in order to make that possible. There’s nothing magical about fasting. It’s just one way of telling God that your priority at that moment is to be alone with him, sorting out whatever is necessary, and you have canceled the meal, party, concert, or whatever else you had planned to do in order to fulfill that priority.”
Morning of Prayer Saturday 20th January
The church will be open from 9 am to 1 pm
Each hour will begin with a time of prayer together followed by space for personal prayer. Books are available to help your devotions. Feel free to arrive and leave at any time, not just around the hour.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock
and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
“Asking is the rule of the Kingdom.” (C.H.Spurgeon)
9.00 Drawing near to God Psalm 42
10.00 Prayer for members and friends of the church in need Psalm 133
11.00 Prayer for our regular activities and our outreach Psalm 107
12.00 Prayer for the Future of the church Psalm 25
12.40 Time of prayer together
Cup or Bucket?
Lord, I crawled across the barrenness to You, with my empty cup,
uncertain but asking any small drop of refreshment.
If only I had known You better
I’d have come running with a bucket.