Beginning tonight after dinner, I would like to ask our church to fast and pray together. There is deep hurt, sadness and anger in our country, and now is the time to come together as a church in the Spirit of Christ. This fast can take different forms depending on your age and physical health etc. If possible, I would encourage you to consider taking a social media/news fast and a food fast starting after dinner tonight and ending before dinner tomorrow. During this fast, I would ask you to set aside 4 distinct pauses in order to read and lift up your prayers. Below are some suggestions for how to pause and pray during this time.
Pause 1- Evening June 1 (following dinner)
(Dedicate the next 24 hours to be a time of pausing and prayer)
Lament is different than crying because lament is a form of prayer. It is more than just the expression of sorrow or the venting of emotion. Lament talks to God about pain. And it has a unique purpose: trust. It is a divinely-given invitation to pour out our fears, frustrations, and sorrows for the purpose of helping us to renew our confidence in God. desiringgod.org
Pour out your sorrow over the racial history of this country. Pray a lament over what we have seen happen in recent days. It may help to write your lament in a journal, or you may want to lament around the dinner table. Share with God your fears for yourself, your brothers and sisters in Christ, your family, and the future of this country. Speak your feelings directly to God, and ask him to help you sort through the righteous and unrighteous feelings and concerns in your heart.
Psalm 13. How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. 5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Trust: Purposefully state that you will put your trust in God’s goodness and provision even in these incredibly uncertain times. (If you are doing this with children, be sure they hear your trust in the power and goodness of God.)
Pause 2- Morning June 2
Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Praise: Acknowledge before God that every family gets its name from Him, and all are created in His image. The heavenly Father is actively seeking people to Himself, and the Holy Spirit is at work in each of us stirring us to new levels of understanding, love, compassion and strength in Christ. His great love can do far more than we can ever ask or imagine, but we often miss it.
Confession: Acknowledge before God that some of what we see “out there” can also be found in our own hearts.
- Confess that we are a nation with a broken racial history.
- Confess that we are individuals, and we live in a culture that readily consumes, sexualizes and brutalizes people rather than protecting the vulnerable.
- Confess that far too often we do not think about, consider or treat others as highly as ourselves and that this often plays out with others of different skin color.
- Confess that we often do not see the inherent worth and dignity in life that God has created.
- Confess that we often comfort ourselves with believing we think rightly, but unfortunately, that thinking has not always translated into action.
- Confess that we often do not even know what actions to take.
- Confess that we are weak and that we desperately need the Holy Spirit to illuminate, empower, transform and move us in His ways.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Lamentations 3:22-24 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” We are invited into the God’s great restoration project.
Thank: Although we are weak and deeply flawed, God is quick to hear our prayers and forgive. Thank Him for this.
Pause 3- Midday June 2
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
We are invited as sons and daughters of God to ask Him expectantly for big things.
- Ask God to protect the lives and hearts of our children in this time.
- Ask God to give us wisdom in how we talk, teach and think about what is happening.
- Ask God to reveal systems, attitudes, policies and laws that do not align with His purposes and to root those things out bringing about His justice.
- Ask God to raise up voices and leaders who will speak the way of Jesus- truth filled with compassion, peace, and love.
- Ask God to use this moment in history to miraculously draw us together as a nation and church.
- Ask God to protect people from the spread of COVID-19.
- Ask God to make our church better reflect the beautiful diversity of heaven.
- Ask God to stir deep hunger in people’s hearts for a truth and peace that is far greater than anything man can provide.
- Ask God to clarify for each of us as individuals our responsibilities and opportunities to protect and care for the vulnerable in our communities.
- Ask God to bring fruit from this that is currently hard to imagine.
Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Trust: Acknowledge before God that he is the perfect Father, and that He knows how to give good gifts. Thank Him that He always does what is right and will bring about His purposes even when we have a hard time seeing it.
Pause 4- Evening June 2 (before breaking fast)
A LITURGY FOR THOSE FLOODED BY TOO MUCH INFORMATION
In a world so wired and interconnected, our anxious hearts are pummeled by an endless barrage of troubling news. We are daily aware of more grief, O Lord, than we can rightly consider, of more suffering and scandal than we can respond to, of more hostility, hatred, horror, and injustice than we can engage with compassion.
But you, O Jesus, are not disquieted by such news of cruelty and terror and war. You are neither anxious nor overwhelmed. You carried the full weight of the suffering of a broken world when you hung upon the cross, and you carry it still.
When the cacophony of universal distress unsettles us, remind us that we are but small and finite creatures, never designed to carry the vast abstractions of great burdens, for our arms are too short and our strength is too small. Justice and mercy, healing and redemption, are your great labors.
And yes, it is your good pleasure to accomplish such works through your people, but you have never asked any one of us to undertake more than your grace will enable us to fulfill.
Guard us then from shutting down our empathy or walling off our hearts because of the glut of unactionable misery that floods our awareness. You have many children in many places around this globe. Move each of our hearts to compassionately respond to those needs that intersect our actual lives, that in all places your body might be actively addressing
the pain and brokenness of this world, each of us liberated and empowered by your Spirit to fulfill the small part of your redemptive work assigned to us.
Give us discernment in the face of troubling news reports. Give us discernment to know when to pray, when to speak out, when to act, and when to simply shut off our screens and our devices, and to sit quietly in your presence, casting the burdens of this world upon the strong shoulders of the one who alone is able to bear them up.
(COPYRIGHT © 2017 DOUGLAS MCKELVEY… free download everymomentholy.com)