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21 Days of Prayer and Fasting - Jan. 2018 Week 1

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Day 1

Read Romans 12:11-12

How close do you feel to God? Most of us sense that there’s more to a relationship with God than what we currently are experiencing. I have observed that while the vast majority of believers start out with a lot of passion and zeal in their relationship with God, over time that enthusiasm subsides. On a day-to-day basis, their relationship with God eventually becomes passive. There are occasional bursts of excitement, but even that excitement is short-lived. Their walk with God seems to have a few highs, some lows…and a whole lot of mundane in-betweens. Does it strike you, as it has me, that there is something terribly wrong with a passionless, passive, mundane, monotonous relationship with God? Aren’t we vaguely unsettled with the idea that somehow a daily relationship with God… the God of the universe…can end up with the flavor of stale bread? The Bible is clear that our passion and spiritual fervor should be constant. (Romans 12:11) So why have so many Christians accepted a faith experience that is so far below what God intended for them? A passionate, thriving relationship with God should be the norm, not the exception for every follower of Christ. Over the next 21 days your relationship with God can be awakened. Maintaining a fresh, exciting, passionate relationship with God is something we must literally fight to protect. Make no mistake about it—we have a very real enemy who wants nothing more than for our souls to be lulled to sleep, all while we think everything is okay. For the next 21 days, join us in the experience of fasting, prayer, and listening to the voice of God through His Word. Maybe at one time you were excited about God and were full of His life. But now, if you’re honest, you know other things have grabbed your attention, and your heart has hardened to the joy and freshness you once felt. Or maybe you are far from God and struggling with addictive behaviors or other issues. (And, by the way, is there really anyone who doesn’t have issues?) The good news is that the potential for a lasting, thriving relationship with God really is there. It just has to be awakened. Take a moment to reflect and journal: What is your biggest obstacle to experiencing the zeal and passion described in Romans 12:11-12? Ask God to ignite or reignite a passion in your relationship with Jesus. Excerpts taken from Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom by Stovall Weems (pp. 1-4)

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Day 2

Read Matthew 6:16 It is time to get a new outlook on fasting. When practiced the right way, fasting is something that everyone should enjoy. That’s right…enjoy! Fasting is for every follower of Jesus. Too many people fast with a strict mind-set that focuses on abstaining. The fasting I am talking about is different. Of course it involves abstaining from food, but the mindset is completely different. It is possible to have minimum physical emptiness with maximum spiritual fullness. Fasting is one of the most powerful spiritual weapons believers can use. Maybe you’ve never done it before. There is a serious misconception that fasting is for serious, super Christians or only for times of crisis. Some even think fasting is only an Old Testament thing. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus said in Matthew 6:16, “When you fast.” He did not say if you fast! There is a closeness to God that you simply will not experience from prayer or personal devotions alone. You must fast. You get a revelation of God’s Word when you fast that you simply cannot get any other way. Disconnecting from the distractions of the world through fasting, and connecting into the power and presence of God through prayer, brings a supernatural freshness and newness to our souls. What will you be fasting over the next 20 days? Your fast doesn’t necessarily have to be food. You could fast from social media or anything that would help you be more intentional in your focus on God and His Word. Excerpts taken from Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom by Stovall Weems (pp. 63-64)

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Day 3

Read Galatians 5:1 Why do we fast? You can do it for the right reasons or the wrong reasons. I want to make it clear that under the New Covenant, fasting is not to get God to change His mind about something. Fasting is also not something we do to obtain favor or forgiveness. After you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your past, present and future sins have already been forgiven! You don’t need to fast to obtain favor or receive mercy, because through Jesus you live in a continual state of God’s mercy. Instead, fasting is a way of celebrating the goodness of God and that because of Jesus, we have already received God’s mercy, forgiveness and favor. Under the Old Covenant, the entire mindset was to “do in order to become.” But under the New Covenant, the operating principle is “you already are, therefore act like it” --- rejoice and celebrate that Christ has set you free. You don’t have to fast for mercy, instead, celebrate the mercy given to you as a free gift through your relationship with Christ. Under the New Covenant you don’t fast to obtain the Lord’s favor because you perpetually live in the favor of the Lord. Do you see the difference? Fasting is not about mourning or sadness, but it is about celebrating the goodness of God. Make sure that as you fast you reflect and journal on the goodness, favor and forgiveness of God. Excerpts taken from Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom by Stovall Weems (p. 67)

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Day 4

1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you think of yourself as a temple? The Bible says that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We’ve got to get “the gunk” out of God’s temple so we can hear his voice clearly and prepare ourselves for new things He wants to do in and through us. Even if you are going to church, reading your Bible, and worshiping there are times when you need to give your soul a good spring cleaning to make it fresh again. As we live our lives, over time we can get all “gunked up.” While our spirit is eternally made new through Christ , our soul, which is the intersection of our mind, will and emotions, can become weighed down, heavy, negative, and sluggish. The constant demand on our mind, the distractions, and the noise can weigh us down and put us in a spiritual fog. Life has a way of stacking on the pressure and pain, which causes our emotions to get out of whack. As we get tired and weighed down, our conscience can become desensitized, not really bothered by things that once convicted us. God’s voice is slowly muffled, and we begin to lose our passion for Him. The fire within dims, and we shift into autopilot, operating from a position of obligation or routine in our relationship with God, instead of one of affection and fervor. Fasting hits the reset button of our soul. To receive the new things God wants to bring into our lives, we have to periodically hit the reset button. This is what I call experiencing a newness of soul. What a powerful gift we have been given through fasting. Along with your fasting, make sure you slow your pace and remove distractions. Try to add some times of silence and solitude along with your fasting. Excerpts taken from Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom by Stovall Weems (pp. 68-71)

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Day 5

Read Ephesians 2:10 One of the reasons I think prayer and fasting are so powerful when combined is that together they activate a chain reaction where we see God’s kingdom manifest on earth. This sequence is what I call agreement…alignment…assignment. When we come into agreement with God, we are aligned with God’s perfect will on earth as it already is in heaven. When we are aligned with heaven, we find that God can use us in ways we never thought possible; then we begin to walk in our assignment –the purpose that God created us to fulfill. God has given you a specific and unique assignment. You are a masterpiece designed by God to make a difference in this world. There is a very specific purpose for which you were created. God is the only One who can truly inform you of that purpose, and in order to fulfill it, you will need His power. Here’s the deal: when it comes to pursuing our God-given assignment, if you and I are not in tune with God’s voice, we will only hear the voice of the crowd and get weighed down by the pressures of life. Like a radio station we can’t quite hear clearly, all the voices will cause static and make it difficult for us to tune into the Voice we need to hear. As you fast, let your hunger help you focus on God. Every time you experience a pang of hunger, ask God to increase your hunger for Him in the same way that you hunger for food. Excerpts taken from Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom by Stovall Weems (pp. 73 and 83)

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Day 6

Luke 4:42 The hardest decisions to make are usually not between what is good and bad. Usually the most difficult decisions are between what is good, better and best. It is so important to be able to clearly hear the voice of God when facing important decisions. Jesus regularly disconnected from the world to hear the voice of God. This awakening season is all about disconnecting from the world so that we can hear the voice of God. All sorts of things will try to crowd God out of your life. Jesus faced pressure from the crowds, and he had to choose between doing good and doing God’s will. The crowds constantly tugged on Jesus to heal them or to do another miracle. What might have happened if Jesus had listened to the voice of the crowds? He would have settled for a very good cause, healing, but missed his primary purpose to preach the kingdom of God to lost humanity. Jesus knew that with so much need everywhere, He had to hear the voice of His Father, or He would have mistakenly chosen what’s good instead of what’s God. That is exactly what will happen in our lives if we’re not tuned in to God and hearing His voice over the voice of the crowd. The voice of the crowd cannot answer the question, “Why are you here?” When you hear the voice of God, you begin to understand His purpose for you and what you are all about. It is then that you can prioritize your life around that purpose; this is a freeing place to be, and it uncomplicates your life. Once you begin to realize God’s purpose for your life, you start to understand something foundational about yourself; you’re not here on earth simply to exist but—guess what?—you were sent. Your whole life will change when you understand that you were sent here by God. I don’t know your specific assignment in regards to your career, relationships, or other matters. I do know that we are all called to be witnesses for Jesus. I want to challenge you to look at the normal activities of your everyday life and see them as opportunities to be a witness for Jesus. During your fast, look for ways to serve and encourage others at work, at home, in your neighborhood or at church. Excerpts taken from Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom by Stovall Weems (pp. 82-84)

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Day 7

Read John 10:10 I love an ice-cold coke. Pop the top, and it has lots of fizz! Have you ever drank a canned coke after the top has been off for a while, and it has gone flat? There is no fizz! Yuck! Just Gross. We expect the fizz when we open up a carbonated drink, don’t we? We expect the fizz every time! Passionate Christianity should be the norm for every believer—not the exception! We would never settle for a flat coke that has lost its fizz. Likewise, we should never settle for a stale, mundane, dull, boring relationship with God. Are you vaguely unsettled with the idea that somehow a daily relationship with God…the God of the universe…can end up flat? Begin again today with a John 10:10 passionate, expectation of abundance! Don’t settle! Guarding the fire of devotion in your heart is the most foundational discipline of your life. Refuse to accept a faith experience that is so far below what God intended for you. As you complete the first week of your 21 day fast, make sure you are writing down the things that God is speaking to you. Continue to pray fervently for the main concerns in your life. Trust God to bring an answer as you journal your thoughts and inspirations through this time. Excerpts taken from Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom by Stovall Weems (p. 2)

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