Fasting and Praying for Our Church, City & World

 

What are we doing?

 

The Elders of Knox have been discerning, asking about, thinking and praying for our church and its ministry. Along with you, we desire to see Knox grow as a vital and flourishing church, but we know there are significant challenges, both in ourselves and in our world. As we hope for a new future, the spiritual leadership of Knox is convinced that we need to be found on our knees together, for the renewal of our church, for the sake of the city. Because the task is too big on our own. This kind only comes out through prayer and fasting (see Mark 9).

And so the Elders of Knox Church are calling us all to observe a day of prayer and fasting today, on Monday, March 30. We are calling for everyone at Knox to specially mark today and choose a fast of some form (see details below) and pray for Knox and its spiritual renewal. Also, we will be holding a service of prayer for our city and world tonight at 7:30 p.m.

But what is a fast? In scripture the practice of fasting normally means abstaining from food (but not water) for a day or longer; however, fasting can take many other forms. For example, in our media-saturated culture fasting might take the form of withdrawing from media or technological devices for a time. The type of fast may be different for each person but the goal is the same: to seek God. God is always the centre and focus of any fasting. While most biblical cases of fasting are individual in nature, there are times of corporate or communal fasts (see Lev. 23:27, Joel 2:15, 2 Chron. 20:1–4, Ezra 8:21–23), and usually at times of urgency or communal need.

At this important juncture in our congregation’s life, the Elders are calling everyone at Knox to engage in a fast of some form and spend time in prayer for God to revive, grow, beautify and renew our church. Let us seek God’s face together, praying for his favour, mercy and power to flow in and through Knox.

How do I fast?

 

(Note: Pregnant women and people with serious medical conditions should not fast. People with any kind of health issues should consult a doctor before attempting a fast. Know your body and always use common sense when fasting, i.e., break the fast immediately if you feel it is hurting your health. Also, we do not recommend or encourage children 13 and under to fast from nutritious food for any length of time. For children, a fast might include abstaining from junk food or dessert or various media use.)

Here are a few examples of different types of fasts:

  • A 24-hour full fast, drinking only juice or water (for most people drinking juice is preferable to just water)
  • A 24-hour partial fast (eat fruit or drink vegetable juices during this fast)
  • A Daniel fast: drink only water and eat only vegetables for the day

You will feel some hunger pangs or discomfort before the time is up, but this is not real hunger; your stomach has been trained through years of conditioning to give signals of hunger at certain hours.

What to do while I fast?

Make sure you actually set aside extra time for Bible reading and prayer! The point of fasting is not just to not eat—it is to seek God with renewed focus and determination. As you fast from food, you might also consider a fast from media (at least partially). Media takes up so much of our time and mental energy; so during a fast it can be extremely beneficial to completely eliminate this from our lives, or to reduce it in significant ways so that we have more time for prayer and Bible reading.

Fast with others: there is something about fasting with a small group, or with close friends and family, that builds community and lends emotional support when a fast gets difficult. It is much easier to keep your fasting commitments when others know about them and are doing the fast with you! It is also wonderful to be able to pray for and encourage each other during a fast.

Keep a clear purpose in mind: fasting just for the sake of fasting is not a very rewarding experience. For this day of prayer and fasting, we are asking the community of Knox to seek God’s face in prayer (see prayer ideas below).

More detailed information will come soon but for now mark the day on your calendar and let us, together, seek God’s face for God’s reviving work in Knox Church.

What to pray for?  Here are a few things to pray about:

 

The Gospel: 

  • that God would imprint the gospel on our hearts
  • for an increased and growing dependence on the mercy and grace of God
  • for a clear and vivid sense of assurance of God’s forgiveness
  • for deep joy in the work of Jesus Christ
  • for the gospel to find its way into all our lives
  • for spiritual renewal across our church
  • for a hunger for God’s Word, that people would find scripture to be alive and vibrant, not just a book but like a living voice coming after them
  • for a passion for prayer
  • for an experience of the spirit of adoption
  • for the fullness of God’s glory and presence in our lives

Our Hearts:

  • that God’s vision and love for the people of Toronto would fill our hearts
  • that we might see all people through the eyes of Jesus
  • for the power of the living God to enter our hearts, to break them, humble them and make them new
  • for God to open the eyes of our hearts so that he becomes alive and real to the hearts of all at Knox
  • that God would reveal the idols of our hearts and that we would repent for all these idols
  • for deep conviction of sin and healthy, godly repentance
  • for an openness to repent of our apathy towards God beneath the mask of respectability
  • for people to delight their hearts in God, to have a sense of his presence and love
  • that God would break our hearts for the lost
  • for lives of personal holiness and the fullness of God

Our Community/City:

  • for God’s glory over the city of Toronto
  • for the homeless, single-parent families, those with AIDS, colleges and universities, the gay and lesbian communities, the business/financial community, the entertainment/arts community, for the media (TV, radio and print)
  • for justice and compassion for the poor and needy

Our Leaders:

  • for the pastors and staff, for protection, wisdom, discernment, bold faith, for an anointing on their preaching and leadership, for the authority of Christ
  • for Session, the Board of Managers, the Trustees—for clear vision, to lead boldly and wisely, for a listening ear to the Spirit’s lead and a willingness to obey and follow

Our Church Community:

  • pray for a deep experience of community and belonging
  • for worship that is vital, alive and electric with God’s presence
  • for forgiveness for past hurts and reconciliation
  • for care to be expressed readily and easily, for all needs to be cared for
  • for people of all ages to know they belong
  • for small groups to be centres of love, fellowship
  • for joy to be the hallmark of our community

Our Church’s Ministries:

  • pray for God’s richest blessings on each ministry, that they be a blessing to our community
  • pray for leaders for ministries that need them
  • for a joyful spirit of service so that each ministry have more than enough volunteers

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