|Let’s start 2021 with 21 days of prayer and fasting, January 11-31. It’s a perfect time to change up our normal habits, slow down our level of activity, and spend more time resting in God’s presence. Replace a meal with time in prayer. Each day we will share a specific prayer focus with 3 Scriptures. We will gain clarity by seeking God first.|
|You are invited to a time of worship and prayer, on Thursdays 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm January 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th. (replacing January Life Groups)|
We will close out our 3 weeks of prayer with a party celebrating the 10th anniversary of our church, Sunday, January 31st.
You will find the daily prayer focus below and the January calendar attached. You will notice that the daily topics draw from our January Bible reading.
You can find more information about this activity below the prayer topics.
You will notice that the daily topics draw from our January Bible reading. To receive an email daily with the prayer topic, Bible reading, and notes, please follow these steps:
Thank you for the joy of sharing life together with you!
2021 First – 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting
January 11th – Matthew 9:14-38
- Repentance of personal sin, acceptance of God’s forgiveness
- Prayer of dedication for the time of fasting
- Asking for eyes of faith (from a miracle-working God!) for the next 21 days
January 12th – Matthew 10:1-31
- Ears to hear
- Willingness to obey
January 13th – Matthew 10:32-42, 11:1-15
- Ability to live in Righteousness or right relationships with God and others.
January 14th – Matthew 11:16-30
- Family, friends, and neighbors who do not know Jesus
- Thanksgiving for what God has done in your life
January 15th – Matthew 12:1-21
- Miracles of healing in your personal life, friends, and family
January 16th – Matthew 12:22-45
- Unity in our church and Baltimore churches
January 17th – Matthew 12:46-50, 13:1-17
- That we would see the fruit of salvations in our city
- That the Good News would be shared
- That those hearing the Good News would recognize it as truth
January 18th – Matthew 13:18-35
- A soft heart that God can mold as he chooses
- Desire to read the Word of God and the ability to understand it
January 19th – Matthew 13:36-58
- Willingness to do whatever God asks
- Boldness to speak the Good News
January 20th – Matthew 14:1-21
- That God would multiply what we have so we can give it to others
- Ability to practically serve our communities and city
January 21st – Matthew 14:22-36, 15:1-9
- No matter what is going on around us, our main focus would be on Jesus
- God would build our faith
- That our hearts would pure before God
January 22nd – Matthew 15:10-39
- That our words (spoken and written) would be life-giving and God-honoring
January 23rd – Matthew 16:1-20
- That we would seek God for who he is (true relationship) not for what he can do
- That we would be daily conscious of God’s love, grace, and kindness towards us
January 24th – Matthew 16:21-28, 17:1-13
- Thanksgiving for your Salvation
- Ask for the ability to follow Christ with wholehearted devotion and a lifestyle of sacrificial love
- Ability to set aside our desires in favor of God’s desires
January 25th – Matthew 17:14-27, 18:1-9
- Spiritual freedom for those around us
- That we would have the strength to resist temptation. Both temptation to sin and the temptation to not do what we should do.
January 26th – Matthew 18:10-35
- That we would be serious in seeking reconciliation in relational conflict, and that we would do it in a Biblical way
- That we would be quick to forgive others
January 27th – Matthew 19:1-15
- If you are married: pray for unity, that your love for each other would grow, ability to forgive one another
- If you are single: pray for your focus to be on Jesus
- If you want to be married: that God would lead you to the person that is his best for you, that he would prepare you for marriage, patience to wait for God’s timing, that your focus on Jesus would never waver.
January 28th – Matthew 19:16-30
- That the Kingdom of God would be our priority
- That we would serve others daily because of God’s love and sacrifice for us.
January 29th – Matthew 20:1-19
- That we would not be jealous of what others have been given (naturally and spiritually)
- That we would be faithful to what God has given us
January 30th – Matthew 20:20-34
- That we would have true humility
- That we would always be ready to obey God and serve others, no matter what the cost to us personally
January 31st – Matthew 21:1-17
- That we would have an eternal perspective, looking towards heaven, remembering that this life and all its troubles are temporary
- That our lives would bear fruit: The fruit of the Holy Spirit, leading others to salvation, daily becoming more like Jesus
What are we doing? Why are we doing this? Thank you for asking!
What are you focused on? Let’s start this new year more focused on God than anything else. Here’s an invitation to our 21 days of “First” prayer focus.
Jesus called us to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Setting aside extra time to pray will help us in that direction. In Daniel, we find an example of this kind of devotion that included praying three times daily. Daniel gave thanks to God and asked God for his help, every day.
First prayer invite: https://youtu.be/Er5hTADwPWs
First prayer topics: https://bit.ly/2XgM3Sp
Please plan to set aside some time every day to pray (whether it’s 2 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour).
As a church family, let us start this year with 21 days of prayer and fasting. This will help us take the next steps in becoming devoted followers of Jesus. Let us increase whatever the amount of prayer & fasting we are accustomed to, for these 21 days. From the evening of Monday, January 11th through Sunday, January 31st let us set aside time devoted to prayer by fasting food and normal entertainment activities.
Consider fasting some of your usual entertainment activities to create this extra time for prayer.
In addition, consider fasting one or more meals at some point from January 11-31 to add extra prayer time on those days.
Try fasting just a little bit more than you have done in the past.
Here are some of the ways it could look:
- Fast one meal
- Fast one meal per week
- Fast two meals per week
- Fast one full day per week
- Fast a stretch of 3 days straight
- Fast a stretch of 7 days straight
- Pick whatever amount of days that you believe God wants you to fast
This year, we’re not fasting meats & sweets. Let’s focus more on choosing whole meals to fast, allowing more time for prayer.
Thank you for taking the time this week to pray and consider how you will join your church family in this time of prayer.
Here’s more of our inspiration for this activity:
Your focus determines your direction. Your focus affects your quality of life. Whatever your heart is focused on your life will be focused on and this will determine much of what becomes of your life!
Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God”. My heart focus is to be on the things of God first. They are of greater value, they are more important than anything else in my life.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 “seek first” Context: focus, “don’t let concern about provision dominate your thoughts…seek first…and He will provide.”
How you start each day has a direct impact on how you will respond to what comes of the day. How you start 2019 may have a significant impact on how you live throughout the year.
How do I “seek the Kingdom of God above all else,”? When Jesus said, “seek first,” He was also describing that a person following Him would do three things: give, pray, and fast (not for show but as a personal “Thank You” to God). We find this talk in Matthew 5-7 and in chapter 6 Jesus is saying, “when you give, when you pray, when you fast,”. The results are a life where we can reasonably choose to not worry, knowing that God will provide for us and reward us. See Matthew 6.
We believe that God gave us his best, in Jesus, and so as a “Thank You” to God we choose to live in courageous generosity. We choose to live on less of our own time, energy, and money so that we can give of ourselves to the needs of others and the purpose of God in our homes, neighborhoods, and beyond. Jesus challenged us to be sure that we are not doing this for a good reputation with others, but as a personal “Thank You” to God. See His specific instructions in Matthew 6.
We believe that Jesus knew we would need help in this life and so He taught us how to talk with and listen to our Father God. Jesus challenged us to be sure that we are not doing this for a good reputation with others, but as a personal “Thank You” to God. Find Jesus’ specific suggestions (a power tool really) in Matthew 6 and Luke 11.
The practice of fasting means – going without to focus on God. Setting aside time to focus on God is a perfect way to check your focus! Using the practice of “going without” is extremely helpful to that end.
Biblical Fast – Going without food in order to focus yourself on God. You are trading your meal time for prayer time. You do not fast to obtain merit from God or to atone for sin. In contrast, you are going without food, for a spiritual purpose. To this time of fasting, you are adding prayer, meditation, Bible reading/memorization, and seeking God for your life. Then prayer and fasting works something into you that prayer by itself would not.
For best results, this includes changing your normal schedule and going without some of your normal activities so that you have more quality time for God. This may mean that you spend less time on the internet, watching TV/movies, playing games, or doing other stuff in favor of investing more energy into your spiritual life.
We are choosing to skip some meals and entertainment so that we can start the year more focused on God than anything else.
It’s a conviction, that starting a new year by seeking God brings us to right focus. As a church, we begin the New Year by setting aside a time of “sacred assembly” to dedicate ourselves to God afresh. As individuals, we set aside time for prayer & fasting to allow the Holy Spirit to deal with us personally (about our lives/homes/work) – to make sure that anything that should not be in our lives is cut out & anything that should be in our lives is put in.
For each person, this may be different. You may choose to go without certain activities, particular foods, or go without food entirely. Medical research actually shows that periodic fasting is good for your overall health and Hippocrates recommended the medical benefits of fasting, including the fact that it slows the aging process. Recent research shows that giving your digestive system a break has many health benefits. Please consult your Dr before making any changes to your diet.
Personal spiritual disciplines…are just that “personal spiritual disciplines”. Please consider making a plan for how you choose to respond to Jesus, “When you pray, when you give, when you fast” (in Matthew 6). If this is a meaningful and personal commitment for you, it will mean something to God. If it doesn’t mean anything to you please don’t participate. How you choose to participate is personal, and yet you can benefit from the group “water level” of your friends and family doing it at the same time you are.
Please consider joining us by starting your 2021 with three weeks (January 11-31) of being more focused on God than anything else. Pray, between now and January 6th, and ask God what He would have you do during those three weeks. Please take time to write out a personal purpose for this time of prayerful focus.
Please consider writing down your answers to these questions:
- What do I want to be focused on?
- Why am I choosing to “go without” over January 6-26?
- What food, drink, activities, music, TV/movies, social media, or activities will I be doing without?
- What will I be praying about?
- What days and times will I be in prayer and Bible reading?
- What is most important in my life?
Here’s an opening prayer: God, you are more important to me than anything else in this world. Thank you for taking away the guilt of my sin through Jesus. This January 6-26 I’m going without ____. I am doing this because _____. I will be more focused on you than anything else. I choose to live for you. Please speak to me God. Thank you!
Here’s a few books to consider:
- Fasting – Jentezen Franklin (also “The Fasting Edge” same author)
- Prayer – Timothy Keller
- 101 Reasons to Fast – Dr Bob Rogers and/or Toxic Relief – Don Colbert MD
- Purple Book (Bible studies that every believer should go through with a friend) and Wiki Church Steve Murrell
- The Jesus I Never Knew – Philip Yancey
January Prayer Focus – Lent? In February we will enter the ancient Christian calendar season of Lent, the 40 days leading to Easter. It’s good to learn from our history. Three major themes of this practice are self-control, prayer, and reflection. It certainly brings great joy in celebrating the resurrection of Jesus! It also honors the 40 days that Jesus spent in prayer & fasting, Matthew 4. For more resources on Lent, click here. http://bit.ly/YBOuXf
For the past couple of years we’ve chosen to not observe Lent directly. We follow the principles by starting the year with a prayer and fasting focus on Jesus (January 11-31). Then during the weeks leading up to Easter we set aside time to consider, reflect, and celebrate the Cross of Christ and the Resurrection of Christ.