21 days of Prayer and Fasting - Introduction
As we begin a new calendar year, we are asking that everyone who attends NCC to join together for 21 days of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direction for 2022. There are so many challenges currently taking place in our world, country, state and local communities. Our hope for NCC is that as we all do something outside of our normal routine, our prayers will be centered around praising God, seeking God’s wisdom, and healing within our heart and within our communities. Fasting will remind us to place our dependence on God. As we experience some discomfort from our normally comfortable life, we will remember what Christ has done for us and we will commit to “taking up our cross and following Jesus daily.” (Matthew 10:37-39)
Each day during our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting there will be a spiritual focus, community focus. This may be an attribute of God, a fruit of the Spirit, or a biblical principle for us to read, reflect and apply in our daily lives. There will also be a community focus. This will be a group of people that we are asking you to spend specific time praying for on this day. You may pray for other people as well, but our hope is that by providing a prayer focus each day, the entire church is centered around praying for one focused group of people.
Prayer is our direct access to God. Jesus modeled prayer for us and set an example of going to a quiet place to be alone with God in prayer.
Jesus said, “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food for today, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13
“Afterward he (Jesus) went up into the hills by himself to pray.” Matthew 14:23
Author Henri Nouwen says this about prayer in With Open Hands:
“When you pray, you open yourself to the influence of the Power which has revealed itself as Love. That Power gives you freedom and independence. Once touched by this Power, you are no longer swayed back and forth by the countless opinions, ideas, and feelings which flow through you. You have found a center for your life, a center that gives you a creative distance so that everything you see, hear, and feel can be tested against the source.”
Both the Old Testament and New Testament teach the value of fasting, which is abstaining from food or drink in order to focus on prayer and seeking God’s will. Fasting is mentioned over 70 times throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament, there were two types of fasting: public and private. Both types offer great spiritual benefits.
Through many examples of people in the Bible who fasted, we can know that God grants supernatural revelation and wisdom through this practice. Moses, Daniel, and even Jesus fasted! Scripture tells us that fasting will help us grow a more intimate relationship with Christ and will open our eyes to what He wants to teach us.
Fasting is essentially giving up food (or something else) for a period of time in order to focus your thoughts on God. While fasting, many people read the Bible, pray, or worship.
In her blog, Gospel Taboo, Amanda Edmondson writes,
“Biblically, fasting is mentioned in both the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament it was often a way of expressing grief or a means of humbling one’s self before the Lord. In Psalm 35:13, David humbled himself with fasting. In the New Testament it was a means to grow closer to God through meditating and focusing on Him. In Matthew 4:1-2, Jesus went to the wilderness to fast for 40 days. In Matthew 6:16-18, we learn that we aren’t to look somber while fasting so that it’s not obvious to others when we are fasting. Throughout the New Testament fasting and prayer are often mentioned together. In Acts 13:3, ‘they had fasted and prayed.’ In Luke 2:37 a widow worshiped day and night fasting and praying.”
Following the example of Jesus and the Early Church believers, we too can draw near to God while fasting. Our hope for each person at NCC is to participate in a one day fast from food once during the 21 days. You are welcome to do more, but we want to make achievable goals for everyone. As a way to de-emphasize self and emphasize God, we would also encourage everyone to pick something that they may give up for 21 days. This should be something that will be challenging to do. If you don’t use social media very often, then giving up social media for 21 days won’t really make a difference. But if social media is a big part of your day, then it might be significant. Other things you might fast from could be TV or movies, desserts/sugar, social media, water only (no other drinks), eating out, or something else that would deny yourself so you can focus on God. Regardless of which way you choose to fast, we hope that this practice will help draw you closer to God and help you connect with him in a new and fresh way.
We invite everyone to join us in this time of prayer and fasting over the next 21 days.