North Church Fast | 2019
Call to Fasting and Prayer
As North Church our prayer is that Jesus' glory will grow in Albuquerque and beyond as we live out the Gospel for the good of our neighbors and the nations. Now that we are beginning 2019 our desire is to see God fulfill this prayer in usand through usas never before. We want to see Jesus glorified and our lives transformed by his Gospel in every aspect of life, and right now as a Church there are two areas where our dependence on Him for wisdom and provision are particularly pronounced. The first being the naming of the next lead pastor of North Church, and the second being our efforts to fulfill the great commission by planting a church in Burgos, Spain. We desperately hope to see the Gospel flourish through North as we follow God in these two areas. Because our God is such a good Father, He wants us to come to Him with our need and the Bible gives us the means to do that, these are prayer, fasting, and Scripture, all in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we are calling for a week dedicated to these things. From Monday, January 7ththrough Friday, January 11thwe are asking for the people of North Church to fast, pray and meditate on God’s Word as we seek God’s will, and ask for His grace to carry it out.
The 2 Big Needs
The process to name the next lead pastor enters a critical stage as the ‘Lead Pastor Search Committee’ has been selected and announced. They begin meeting and evaluating the candidates that Slingshotprovides next week. Though Slingshot is an extremely professional organization with an immense amount of experience and love for Jesus and His Church, and the men and women on the committee are wonderfully godly, capable, and dedicated to Jesus’ mission at North Church, they along with the North Church elders are ultimately fallible human beings that need the leading of the Holy Spirit to follow God’s will. This process is also extremely trying on the candidates who have applied as they have put efforts into the application process and will be undergoing interviews. Lastly, this process is also ripe with opportunities for the enemy to cause division. These are some of the areas that need our prayers before our mighty and merciful Lord in the lead pastor search.
The efforts to plant a church in Burgos, Spain have been incredibly blessed up to this point but there is a giant mountain between us and seeing a ‘Gospel Centered, Nationally Led, Church Planting Church’ planted in Burgos. The city is hard soil for the planting of the Gospel and much prayer is needed for the hearts that have been hardened by centuries of exposure to the language of the Gospel without the gracious Savior who is the Gospel. Pray for the team going as there are trials now during preparation and ahead in transition and ministry. Pray for God to grow North’s passion for the great commission both as we take the Gospel to Albuquerque and across the ocean to the nations. Finally, pray for God’s financial provision so that the team can be sent.
One key aspect that makes this week distinct is that it is a call not only to prayer, but also to fasting. This is a spiritual practice that is not very familiar to many American Christians. It is though a thoroughly biblical discipline, Jesus talks not about ‘if’ but rather ‘when’ you fast in Matthew 6. Then He tells of a time after His ascension when His disciples will fast in Matthew 9. Lastly, Acts 13 tells us about the prayer and fasting of the church at Antioch when they hear from the Holy Spirit to set apart Paul and Barnabas to be the first missionaries. John Piper briefly defines fasting as:
“a temporary renunciation of something that is in itself good, like food, in order to intensify our expression of need for something greater—namely, God and his work in our lives.”
Fasting is not a hunger strike against God where we hold out until He gives us what we want, nor is it a way that we display our superior righteousness and earn God’s favor. It is a time where we express and experience our greatest need, Jesus, by giving up the good gifts of God that can too easily distract us from Him. Practically, fasting also allows us more time to pray since we can replace the time we usually use on an activity (like a meal) to focus on prayer.
There are many different types of fasts. The most commonly thought of is a fast from all food and liquids except water. There are also variations of this such as a fast that allows for juices or broth, or one might feel led to give up a certain number of meals per day during the fast. Any food fast should only be conducted if you are medically clear to do so. Other things to fast from might include entertainment, social media, or recreation. At the bottom of this post are a few resources. The last one, “A Hunger for God”, is highly recommended for a full understanding of the Christian practice of fasting. It can be found for free as an audiobook from Hoopla which you can access with an Albuquerque Library card, or it can be downloaded as a PDF from the website.
What the week will look like:
In order to encourage one another during this time, and as a way to experience God’s presence through community, please take as many opportunities as possible to come together as God’s people to pray. This can be done in community groups, families, over lunch break (for those who work close together), or at North. Also, this week is by no means restricted to prayer for our highlighted subjects; please pray for North, our city, the nations, one another, etc… in any way that the Spirit leads you. Then, to break the fast we will be coming together for a prayer and worship night at North that will be followed by a potluck. As stated before, there will also be scripture readings posted to meditate on and detailed prayer points. Here is the schedule for the week:
● Designated Prayer Times: Monday - Thursday: 3 times per day at North (9 am, Noon, and 6:30 pm)
o Friday at 9am and Noon
● Break the Fast Friday January 11th 6pm at North: Prayer and Worship Night
o Followed by Potluck: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0d4fa5a929aaff2-prayer
Resources on Fasting
● John Piper Episode:
o Why do Christians Fast: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-do-christians-fast
● David Mathis: Fasting for Beginners
● John Piper: A Hunger For God
o Hoopla Audiobook: https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/11497703
o Full treatise on the biblical grounds for fasting, the purpose of fasting, highlighted topics for fasting and praying.