Starting 2021 with God
A WEEK OF PRAYER AND FASTING January 10th to 17th
Sunday 10th 10.30 am and 6.30 pm Zoom Gatherings leading us into prayer.
Monday 11th to Friday 15th 10 to 10.30 am and 7.30 to 8 pm Prayer on Zoom.
Tuesday 12th also 8-9 pm Draw Near To God usual prayer meeting on Zoom.
Saturday 16th 9 am to 1 pm Morning of Prayer on Zoom – details below.
Sunday 17th 10.30 am Service of Recommitment with Communion. And 6.30 pm.
The weekday Zoom prayer meetings (usual Link and Password) will begin with a short Reflection. These are introduced in this booklet. The Reflections will also be recorded and put on Facebook and YouTube for you to use at any time later.
‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.’ (James 4:8)
What a marvellous promise! If we make time to come close to God in prayer, He will come close to us. These are our aims in our Week of Prayer and Fasting:
(i) to make time to draw much closer to God in our relationships with Him, for each of us to experience more of His grace and love and healing and holiness;
(ii) to listen to God guiding us for the future of His church and particularly how to fulfil our mission to make disciples;
(iii) to join in prayers which will release the power of God into our lives, our church and our town, especially in these troubled times.
Every member and friend of the church is encouraged to set aside some time for personal prayer, and to attend the Zoom meetings if you are able. You may also like to get together in 2s and 3s to prayer over the phone, WhatsApp or Zoom.
Don’t be afraid, but be excited and full of anticipation! God is more willing to bless than we are to ask. Expect God to thrill and surprise us as we draw close to Him in an adventure of prayer this week!
“You will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
Fasting – Showing God We Care
As part of our Week of Prayer and Fasting you may wish to spend some time in fasting. As we saw last year in our sermons on the Sermon on the Mount, after teaching on the Lord’s Prayer and on giving to the poor, Jesus teaches about fasting in parallel. He clearly implies that all three will be a regular part of the life of a disciple: praying, giving, fasting. Jesus says ‘WHEN you fast’, not ‘IF you fast.’ 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 is a helpful spiritual practice. It is good when we desire to spend time with God more than we want our dinner. Giving time to Prayer and Fasting is a sacrificial physical and bodily expression of our commitment to worshipping and witnessing together. It will focus our thinking and our praying.
Normally fasting involves not eating but still drinking water. Don’t eat a large meal beforehand or over-eat to make up afterwards. If we are unaccustomed to feeling hungry, frequently sipping water or fruit juice can be very helpful. Unless there are medical reasons why you should not, why not join in one of these.
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.
“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.” (Jim Packer).
Monday January 11th Praise and Thanksgiving
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
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.
MORNING REFLECTION (on Zoom 10-10.30 am) – Isaiah 61:1-7
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me.” In what way might this new year be `the year of the Lord’s favour’? From the beginning of this New Year let us recommit our lives to the Lord. Pray that God would lead us all on to greater faith in the coming days.
EVENING REFLECTION (on Zoom 7.30-8 pm) – Romans 12:1-14
Living Sacrifices. What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? How does our thinking need transforming? Offer your life afresh to God today.
Tuesday January 12th Confession and Repentance
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
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
MORNING REFLECTION (on Zoom 10-10.30 am) – Isaiah 55:1-6
Consider all the blessings God pours out on us. Respond to God’s gracious invitation and turn to God afresh today.
EVENING REFLECTION (on Zoom 7.30-8 pm) – Joshua 1:1-9
As we stand on the edge of all the unknowns this new year will bring, how do these promises encourage us?
This evening’s half hour of prayer will continue into Draw Near To God 8-9 pm.
Wednesday January 13th Interceding for our family, friends, neighbours and community
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
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.
MORNING REFLECTION (on Zoom 10-10.30 am) – Luke 10:25-37
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)
Who is your neighbour? How does God want you to show his love to your neighbours, especially in these times of lockdown?
EVENING REFLECTION (on Zoom 7.30-8 pm) – John 20:21-23
What did the Father God send the Son into the world to be and to do? As Jesus sends us out, in what ways does God call us to continue his mission?
Thursday January 14th Prayers for our own church
and for Christians around the world
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Dear Lord our heavenly Father,
At the dawn of this New Year:
In a world of darkness, give us your light;
in lands of war and prejudice, grant us peace;
in a world of despair, give us hope;
in a world of sadness and tears, show us your joy;
in a world of hatred, show us your love;
in a world of arrogance, give us humility:
in a world of disbelief, give us faith.
Give us the courage to face the challenges of
feeding the hungry, clothing the naked,
housing the homeless, and healing the sick.
Give us the power to make a difference in your
world, and to protect your creation.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.
MORNING REFLECTION (on Zoom 10-10.30 am) – John 17:20-23
How can we become truly one with other Christians? What will that mean in our own church, and in churches across the town, and with Christians across the world.
EVENING REFLECTION (on Zoom 7.30-8 pm) – John 21:15-22
How can we show our love for Jesus? Who does God call you to feed and take care of, materially and spiritually?
Friday January 15th Seeking God’s Leading for 2021
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
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
MORNING REFLECTION (on Zoom 10-10.30 am) – Joel 2:28-32
Has God ever spoken to you in dreams, visions or prophecy? Ask God to speak to you and guide us all into the year ahead.
EVENING REFLECTION (on Zoom 7.30-8 pm) – Colossians 4:2-6
Who can you share the gospel with in the weeks to come? Especially in this time of lockdown, what can we be doing to tell other people about Jesus individually and as a church?
Saturday January 16th Morning of Prayer on Zoom
The Zoom room will be open from 8.55 pm until 1.00 pm. On each hour there will be a short Reflection based on the themes below. Each will be followed by a time praying together for around 20 minutes. After that the room will remain open for any who wish to remain to pray together. There will also be suggestions of other resources for reflection to use during the morning or at other times.
Reflection for 9 am – Micah 6:6-8 Walking with God
What does it mean in practice to walk humbly with our God into 2021?
Reflection for 10 am – John 15:1-8 Abiding in Christ
What should we be doing to make sure we remain in union with Christ?
Reflection for 11 am – John 14:11-14 Even greater works than these
What wonderful promises! Lord teach us to pray like that!
Reflection for 12 noon – 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Ambassadors for Christ
How can we live as ambassadors for Christ in this Covid19 world?
PRAYER OF RECOMMITMENT
LORD, I am willing to be made willing.
I desire that your 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 re-make me.
And now I give myself to you in life and in death, in the dark and in the light,
in sorrow and in joy, to be yours only, wholly and forever.
Make the most of me that can be made, for your glory alone.
In the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN.
You may also find these resources useful
You might like to read the little book Practising the Presence of God and you can download that here,
You might like to use this little booklet of prayers of confession and transformation.
Here is a booklet of six sermons on prayer which you might find helpful.
Here are links to a few classic books on prayer. You might like to choose one to read during the Week of Prayer
Andrew Murray With Christ in the School of Prayer
E.M.Bounds Power through prayer
May God richly bless us all as we draw near to him in prayer this week.
Love and prayers – Peter