Prayer and Fasting for Mercy
By Ann Armstrong
We are heading into the joy of Christmas. In preparation for His birth, might you join us in ‘Twenty Days for Mercy’? Through prayer and fasting, we shall implore the Child-King to release those blinded by other masters. From November 6th to the 25th, we shall pray both for the sexually broken and for the Church, that she might reflect His mercy well. Truly the sexually broken are ‘harassed and rendered helpless’ by worldly powers (Matt. 9: 33-35); only mercy can bring them Home. Andrew Comiskey
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” Jas. 2:12, 13
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“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.” Eph. 2:4, 5
I don’t know how many times mercy is mentioned in Scripture, though I do know it really matters to God. This awareness alerts me to the impact of His loving kindness in my life. Were it not for His mercy, demonstrated through His sacrifice on the cross and in ways beyond my imagining, where would I be?
I grew up going to church, knew and believed in the Lord. For the first 28 years of my life, I didn’t know Him personally. While living in a distant country, I finally came to my senses (Lk. 15:11-32). Thanks to His mercy, and the faithful prayers of my parents, I found my way Home.
Freely and lavishly I have received; in turn I can now freely give (Matt.10:8), through a small sacrifice of prayer and abstinence.
Who are the lost, the sexually and relationally broken, those in need of mercy in your world? Ask the Lord who He wants you to stand and fight for in prayer during these twenty days, and for faith and fortitude to pray for these ones. There are family members as well as children of those connected with Desert Stream/Living Waters who I will be praying for.
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.” Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, p 219
In her practical and inspirational book Calhoun also 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 turned 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 twenty 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
As Andrew writes, we make our choices in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth. We also fast and cry out because we know He has more for those bound and broken. We ask for faith to believe and vision to see these sons and daughters as He beholds them.
Lord we believe; in your mercy and grace help our unbelief! Help and teach us to pray even as you taught your disciples. May your Kingdom come and your will be done in the lives of the men and women you place in our hearts and minds during these days of mercy. Amen.
In prayer “we ‘gather:’ the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us.
We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed. CCC 2711
Resources: Celebration of Discipline, Chapter 4, Richard Foster Spiritual Handbook of Disciplines, Fasting Chapter, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun (Free Chapter) Soul Feast, Chapter 5, Marjorie Thompson
Daily devotionals during the fast will be posted at: andrewcomiskey.com/mercy