Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Prayer and Fasting

Our church just went through a week of prayer and fasting.  And this is what I have learned.  So far...

First, I had a picture.  A vision, I suppose.

I was thinking about my burdens, and what it means to cast them on the Lord... and then after that, about taking his yoke upon me.

1 Peter 5:7
"Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." 

Matthew 11:29-30
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

And then this image came to my mind:

I imagined myself, or a person whose pain I could feel, standing there.  They were cringing, awaiting the slap of a heavy burden, about to fall on their back.  It was one of those pre-pain crying moments.... ready for the weight that would fall.  I was ready to receive what was my own.  It was coming to me.  Yet, just before the burden hits my back, Jesus steps in, spreads his arms over me, and catches my burden on his own back - A heavy wooden cross.  

I find this image so powerful.  That burden, that cross, was meant for me.  I earned that.  It was my cross to bear.  Yet, he took it.  And his banner over me is love.

Psalm 91:1
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the AlmightyI will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”"

Then, the next thing I got this week was this passage... 

Colossians 1:9-12
"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,  so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."

I have been praying this now for myself, and for others.  That he would teach us all the knowledge of his will through the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.  This passage is so much what I want... To know his will, to walk in a manner worthy of him, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.  I want to be strengthened with his power, by his glorious might, so that I may have endurance and patience with joy, giving him thanks all the while.  He has qualified me to share in the inheritance of his saints... in light.  His light. 

Then, the last thing I learned was this:

I was teaching Sunday school this week, and the lesson was about Jesus walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33).  And wow... talk about powerful.  I was convicted... because I was able to enter into this story in a way I hadn't before.  It was like I was there.  

No, I'll say that again: It is like I am there.  Only my story looks more like this...

The wind the waves are swirling around me in the form of fears and lies.  I am terrified.  Yet, there, in the midst of my storm, I see Jesus - And he is walking on the water, untouched, unafraid, unaffected by fear.  It does not swallow him; it cannot hurt him; it cannot touch him.  And I say to him, "Is that you Lord?"  And he says, "It is I.  Do not be afraid."  I respond, "If it is really you, tell me to come to you."  He says, "Come." I step out - reaching toward him - yet I still see and feel the wind and the waves around me, and they still frighten me.  In that moment, rather than focus on Jesus and his command of "Do not be afraid," I begin to look at the wind and waves, and I begin to sink in my fears.  

Yet, he is gracious to catch me.  He is gracious to save me.  And he says to me, "Why did you doubt, oh you of little faith?" His strong arms lift me up out of my fears, and then he steps into my boat, my heart (the very thing these fears are surrounding)... And all of a sudden, my fears are gone.  The storm ceases.  The wind stops.  Perfect love casts out fear. 

Forgive me, Father.  I have been afraid.  I have been sinking.  Thank you for saving me.  But thank you that it is not too late to learn to walk on the water with you.  Teach me to trust in your voice above the sound of my fear crying, howling, raging around me.  YOU are strong enough to save me.  You and you alone.  And even the wind, even my fears, must obey you.  Truly, Jesus, you are the Son of God.


Proverbs 18:10
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe."


1 Peter 5:6-11
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen."

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