Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Call for Fasting and Prayer

In the past few hours, I have discerned with greater clarity my way forward in the new world that has been thrust upon the Presbyterian Church.

When I return on Sunday, I will join with my congregation in worship, in which we will begin a preaching series on the Lord's Prayer. I long to raise my voice in praise with my brothers and sisters at Covenant-First. I eagerly await soaking in the Word with our congregation. And I will invite them to join me on Monday for a day of fasting followed by corporate prayer together at the church at 6pm.

And I will invite them to join me in that discipline every Monday following.

When we pray, we will not pray against those with whom we disagree. Rather, we will repent of our own sin -- sins of pride, posessiveness, acquiescence to the prevalant culture of consumerism and self-indulgence. We will repent of apeedy condemnation and wrath and disdain. We will repent of how quick we are to anger and how slow to grieve. We will repent of our own idolatries and we will beseech the Lord for grace. We will call out for sanctifying grace, illuminating grace, strengthening grace. We will cry out that God might lead us to depend upon his Holy Spirit rather than upon our own designs. We will pray that God might give us the grace to glorify Jesus Christ in all that we do.

And we will praise. We will praise God for his manifold works -- his unique design of each person in His image. We will praise God for providence, though at times it is painful to us -- for we know that all things work to the good for those who are in Christ Jesus.

We will fast -- for some that will be a fasting from food, for others that will be a fasting from certain delights (reading, television, media, etc). When we feel the pang of the lack -- then we will quietly in our hearts pray to God. We will let our fasting be a discipline to teach us self-control and self-denial. We will hope, by God's grace and the power of the Spirit, that this discipline will develop within us the fruit of the Spirit -- which includes love, joy, peace, patience, and self-control.

For those who cannot corporately gather, we will invite them in their homes to set aside some time for prayer -- that we all may be of one accord as we go before the Father's throne.

And I invite them to join me every Monday following in this discipline of fasting and prayer.

I intend this not as a legalistic excercise -- God will not love us any more than He already does for participating in this exercise. I will likely falter in my commitment to the discipline, for I am weak. But to this I fell called.

I invite you, the readers of the Eagle and Child, to join me in fasting and prayer -- not necessarily for the PCUSA, but that Jesus Christ might be glorified in our lives together. If you will join us -- please let me know in a comment on this blog -- I will transfer your name to the bottom of this post as I am able.

Soli Deo Gloria

Russell B. Smith