Tag Archives: fasting

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Why Pray?

As we commence our 40-days of prayer and fasting next Wednesday on October 11th, I pose the question: why pray more? Let me count the ways.

First, we are continually knifed by the jagged world and jagged worldly people who we love so much we hate them. Instead of dulling ourselves by any number of drugs, prayer invites us into the presence of God who always asks: ‘Where is your heart?’ Frankly, I often don’t want to know. I want drugs! But more than drugs, I want peace, real peace that runs like a stream underneath my touchy self and wells up as I quiet my heart, feel the pain, and begin to allow living water to help me unload any number of conflicts I processed poorly in the hurried hours.

Second, prayer heals us. We pray more because the world isn’t getting any better for us and we are not getting any better in facing its demands. The cure? More prayer, which is the way we unite with the One who loves us more than we love Him and who through Jesus surrounds and confirms us as beloved sons and daughters who need help. I pray because I need help. Always. I cannot say ‘yes’ to His will today without Him. I am His and I want His will to be mine. In prayer I re-up by fixing the eyes of my heart straight on Him who gave all to gain me.

Third, prayer softens our hearts. Only Jesus makes me cry. It’s a good cry, born of gratitude for His self-giving, which frees me to release the everyday grief over the truth that I have little or no control over things in my life. My certainty is Him. I am being weaned off the world and secured in Him.

Fourth, prayer primes us to intercede for the hard-hearted. ‘I weep because you don’t’, said St. Jean Vianney but we can do our part. We cry out to the Father on behalf of loved ones, certain that as the good Shepherd left good sheep behind to rescue us He will do the same for them (LK 15:3-7). Remembering His generosity toward us inspires gratitude which fuels our eloquent petitions: ‘Get him (or her) God!’ We must persist like one who pounded on the judge’s door til the old crank got up and acted rightly (LK 18: 2-8). The logic is sure—if a divided man arose for her, how much more will Almighty God?

Fifth, prayer prepares us to answer our prayers or someone else’s. As we welcome His generous love afresh and pray for that generosity to lance our beloved’s heart, we are primed to make Jesus known however and to whomever He wills. I love being an answer to another’s prayer! How can we not spill onto another if we have been before His altar where living waters are ever-rising (Ez. 47)? Declare Him or burst (Jer. 20:9)!

Why pray more? Prayer changes everything. Starting next Wednesday the 11th, follow the DSM staff with this prayer guide. When possible, ask a prayer partner to join you. Let’s pray together and become good news for the broken.

Join us for the ‘Becoming Good News for the Gender Challenged’ fast from Oct. 11th-Nov. 19th.

Download the Prayer Guide Below:

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Hungry for Your House

‘Zeal for Your house consumes me.’ (PS 69:9; JN 2:17)

During our forty days of ‘Pierced for the Bride’, we shall ‘fast’ lesser loves in order to know Him more. But in this case, intimacy with Jesus is unto a particular end. We will ask Him for His heart for His house, the Church. We avail ourselves to the Bridegroom to receive His affection for the Bride.

The truth is: we are His bride. Yet we often fail to recognize who we are as the communal object of His deepest desire. In turn, we often fail to behold in our fellow Christians the gracious, fragrant presence of Jesus. We need Jesus to awaken in us His love for the Church.

Even in our brokenness, we have not ceased to be beautiful in His eyes. In truth we betray Him over and over in His body. Yet He hopes and endures and bears all things for us; how can we not ask Him to help us persevere in love for one another (I COR 13:7)? It is all too easy to split the perfect Jesus from His scandalous Church. May it never be! Let us instead collaborate with the Bridegroom and seek to become humble and strategic lovers of the Bride.

I want to say when I see Him face-to-face: ‘I loved her whom You love most, and have done what I could to prepare her for Yourself.’ Practically, that means we shall pray for our churches and regions, and in particular for various ministries like local Living Waters groups that aim to help the Church restore broken ones. Set free by the Bride, we in turn become her champions, devotees of the Bride who hunger and thirst for her righteousness.

Hunger we must. If the Church fails to arise into the glorious healing community of Jesus’ design—mighty in truth and grace—then the multitudes crying out for God in their distress will not be saved. We are Jesus’ saving arm!

Let us hunger for what the Church can be, and with all we possess answer Jesus’ prayer when He implored the Father: ‘I have given them the glory that You have given Me that they may be one as We are one: I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me…’ (JN 17: 22, 23)

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Hungry for God

‘The time will come when the Bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.’ (LK 5:34)

In preparation for our 40 days of prayer, it is key that everyone determine what (s)he will ‘fast’ in order to make room to pray. We let go in order to take hold.

In specific, we are making room for God Himself. We skip a meal or a TV show or an hour of Internet browsing in order to spend that time in real communion with the Living God. Perhaps we pray regularly already. That is good. But ‘Pierced for the Bride’ requires extra time. Yes, we shall meditate together on the daily devotion and pray through the 3 or 4 requests. But more than that, I pray that we might linger in His Presence and listen to His whispers. Detached from some pleasing habit, with a few minutes to spare, might we direct our hungers to Him?

Jesus was right. He is no longer with us face-to-face; we know Him through a variety of icons, but we still face the divide between today’s emptiness and tomorrow’s divine embrace. Prayer is the best way of bridging that divide; it manifests dependence on the divine better than any other discipline.

A big part of the theme for this prayer cycle is spousal intimacy, how Jesus on the Cross betrothed Himself to us. But a gap exists between betrothal and full consummation. He pledged Himself to us and left. Many powerful graces do not change that fact but instead direct us to the hope of heavenly union. In the meantime, we ache, we seek, and we lay down good habits for Jesus, the ‘one thing needful’ (LK 10:42).

I am in the midst of determining what I shall fast. I do not mind going without food but must consider what works for all who need me. Like you, I must ask God and wise counselors: ‘What can I let go of in order to pray while still living responsibly before others? I must admit: I have come to love fasting. I embrace the emptiness and ache of going without in order to know Him more.

I am not a patient person. I can still lunge after false meals. Lust does not drive me but is not dead. How I need more of Him in order to be faithful to Him! Fasting helps me surrender the basic ache of my heart to the One who sustains me as I head Home. May you discern what to let go of in order to know Him more.

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How Then Shall I Fast

“We at Desert Stream Ministries are positioning ourselves before Christ Crucified for 40-days of prayer, from October 15th to November 23rd. Our purpose is to welcome Him afresh into our depths, that we might more nearly grasp His heart for the one He loves most, the Church, His bride. For each of the 40-days, the Desert Stream staff will pray at 3pm CST for specific themes and needs. Will you prayerfully consider joining us? ” Andrew Comiskey

“First, let fasting be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on Him. Let our intention herein be this and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven.” John Wesley

As Wesley beautifully states, fasting is about the Lord: to glorify Him and join with Him in prayer on behalf of His purposes. Whatever sacrifice we make is unto more time to be in His presence and pray. This sounds wonderfully easy. Yet following these clear and simple guidelines requires forethought, grace and discipline!

Now is a good time to begin to pray and consider what type of fast the Lord is asking of you.

What might you give up in order to give God room to make your heart more like His? He may be inviting and challenging you to sacrifice beyond what you feel able. This might involve you fasting on water and a minimal amount of food.

A water fast requires major adjustments in one’s schedule, allowing adequate time to rest and planning to do less physically and socially.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, author of Spiritual Disciplines Handbook lists some of the things fasting includes:

*abstaining from food, drink, desserts, chocolate, to intentionally be with God.

*abstaining from media: TV, movies, radio, music, email, [Facebook, Twitter], cell phones and computer games to allow space for listening to the voice of Jesus.

*abstaining from habits or comforts: elevators, reading, shopping and sports in order to give undivided attention to God.

I have also heard pastors call their congregants to fast criticism, judgment and cynicism; a fast we could all benefit from, especially if we turn instead to Scripture and prayer.

The encouraging and challenging truth is that we all can fast in some way. We each have something we can abstain from for forty days in order to pray and spend more time with God. Remember, our self-denial is “in order to intentionally attend to God in prayer.” Calhoun, p 218

Fasting clears us out and opens us up to intentionally seeking God’s will and grace in a way that goes beyond normal habits of worship and prayer. While fasting we are one on one with God, offering him the time and attentiveness we might otherwise be giving to eating, shopping or watching television.

Fasting reminds us that we care about “soul” things. We care about the church. We care about the world. We care about doing God’s will. Thus we willingly set aside a little comfort so we can listen and attend to the voice and nourishment of God alone. For God can give us grace and comfort and nurture we cannot get on our own .” Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, and be thankful. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. ” Col. 3:15, 17

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Mercy 4: CrossCurrent

‘At the moment of Your death upon the cross, You opened an inexhaustible spring of Mercy for us, giving us Your dearest possession, the Blood and Water from Your heart. Such is the omnipotence of Your Mercy. From it, all grace flows to us.’ St. Faustina

mercy  4 crossEzekiel described healing waters rising in the temple, a mighty river that ‘makes everything live.’ Could his prophetic vision have been fulfilled in the flood of mercy released from Jesus on the cross? That ‘sudden release of blood and water’ (Jn 19:34) cost Him His life but became the source of ours: the power to wash away sin and awaken new life.

That healing flood greets me whenever I consider His mercy. Jesus allowed men to puncture Him in order to release the river that would deliver me. What love! His death releases life, His cross a current that makes me new!

Jesus’ life of healing foreshadowed the healing that gushed from Calvary. How can one not read the Gospels and be assured that Jesus is all about releasing the afflicted? My son and I just finished a study of Luke’s Gospel and marveled at the vast amount of text given to Jesus delivering the sin-weary. One example: ‘A large number of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured. Everyone in the crowd sought to touch Him because power came forth from Him and healed them all.’ (Lk 6: 17-19)

Power poured out of His life of obedience to the Father; how much more did power issue from His death, the ultimate sacrifice? He could give no more! Truly Jesus’ words to the elder son in the Parable of the Prodigal convey it all: ‘Everything I have is Yours.’ (Lk 15:31) On the cross, Jesus shows us the essence of complete self-giving. He gave everything to gain back our dignity: blood and water to dissolve sin and revive our lives in sweet communion with Himself.

That revival must become deeply personal. I will never forget a long confession of sin before a beloved minister. I had been teetering on the edge of porn use. My guide instructed me to confess my entire history of porn, most of which I had never mentioned. God came in like a flood: the blood, the water, the Spirit displaced my sin. I have not struggled with such intensity since.

He who gave everything to us asks only this: ‘Give me everything…’ In this time of prayer/fasting, might we surrender to His CrossCurrent and so take full advantage of the fruit of His suffering?

Open yourselves to that healing flood. Let nothing stop you from immersing yourselves in the water that cleanses, the blood which enlivens. His cross conveys all the mercy you need.

‘For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you but Christ and Him Crucified…so that your faith may not rest on men’s wisdom but God’s power.’ (1Cor. 2: 2, 5)  

Prayer Points for November 9th:

  • Desert Stream/Living Waters:  Eastern Midwest: Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Amy Van Cott, Regional Coordinator. Please pray for Lori Campagna, new LW group coordinator working with Dan Hitz in Detroit.
  • Restored Hope Network:  His Way Out Ministries, Bakersfield, CA & Las Vegas, NV. Pastor Phillip Lee, Director. Specialty: outreach, speaking and teaching in Las Vegas, Trinidad and Tobego.
    Restoring Hope Ministries, Dania Beach, FL (nr Miami). Paul Osterman, Director. Specialty; working with recovery for men and women and wives in the area of homosexuality, and addiction.
  • Courage: Please pray for healing and conversion of LGBTQ activists.
  • Ministries of Pastoral Care:  Please pray that God’s will be done, and His Kingdom come in all that we say and do.
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