SEPTEMBER & PRAYER FASTING
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi he urged them with these words “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 It is interesting to note the word ‘always’. It is that word that tells us that joy is not something that we feel or is based on circumstances but joy is most likely a state of being that comes out of where we choose to plant our lives, our thoughts and actions and how we decide to see and navigate the circumstances surrounding us.
The theologian and Author Henri Nouwen said “Joy is not something that happens to us, but something we choose.” So as we journey into the month of September we want to pray that joy will be our portion and the template of all that we do as we seek to see God’s kingdom come and his will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
6am – 9am
Session One – Joy in God’s Presence
The Psalmist wrote..
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
The King James Version states “in your presence there is fullness of joy” and that is where we want to start our day. We want to live with God’s presence so we can share the joy of that with others.
“The presence of God is like a light. It dispels darkness, it brings hope, it gives life. And when we open our hearts to God, we experience His light. We experience His hope. We experience His life.” John Ortberg
There are so many obstacles to God’s presence. Some of those are engineered by the enemy, by the world around us and even by our own inner thoughts and attitude. In this session pray for…
- The desire to cultivate God’s presence
- The discipline to practise God’s presence
- The experience of God’s presence for family, friends, church and community and especially the revelation to ‘know God’ that His presence brings.
- God’s Holy Spirit to lead you in encountering God’s presence
“God is not a distant being, but a close friend.” – Henri Nouwen
What do you need to do to continue experiencing this closeness?
9am – 12 noon
Session Two – Joy as Strength
There are so many challenges in our world that can sap our strength and leave us deflated. When God’s people tried to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem they immediately faced opposition that tried to distract and demoralise. That sometimes can be the story of life, hence why we need strength to remain focussed to achieve our hopes and dreams. Nehemiah wrote to people facing challenges and encouraged them with this word “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10
“Joy is not the absence of problems, but the presence of God – C.S.Lewis
When we are exhausted and feel like our batteries are running on almost empty, where do we go to find sustenance. The Psalmist regularly states “My soul finds rest in God” “My hope comes from Him” “It is God who strengthens me” So in this session let’s follow the Psalmist example and pray
- Lord guide me to your rest
- God strengthen me to fulfil all the things you desire for me
- Lord overwhelm our nation and communities and churches with your joy so we can continue to fulfil your purposes
- For God’s Holy Spirit to guide you to pray specifically for situations that need God’s strength
“God is not a theory, but a living reality.” – C.S. Lewis
How are you experiencing the reality of God?
12 noon – 3pm
Session Three – Joy and Holy Spirit
We know that one evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is Joy. Joy is listed as one of the outworkings of our engagement with the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. Paul in his letter to Rome states “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. Romans 14:17
As we journey with Jesus and fellowship with the Holy Spirit one evidence of that in our lives needs to be Joy
“Joy is the experience of being fully alive, of being at home in the present moment, of being connected to God and all of creation.” Richard Rohr: The Universal Christ
We know that joy is not about being happy all the time and neither is it something that we find outside of ourselves. It is something that we need to cultivate within ourselves with the help of the creator. So in this session we want to pray..
- For courage to face life’s challenges
- For trust in the Holy Spirit to guide
- For the awareness to not hide but confront life with all its challenges so we can experience God’s victory
- God’s Holy Spirit to illuminate specific areas to overcome
“Joy is not a feeling; it is a way of being. It is the experience of being fully alive, of being at home in the present moment, of being connected to God and all of creation.”
How are you experiencing connection with God and his creation?
3pm – 6pm
Session Four – Joy and Trials
Jesus said to his disciples “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” John 16:33
Our faith journey was never meant to be an easy ride but Jesus promises victory for his people. That is why James states “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” James 1:2-4
“The Christian life is not about avoiding suffering, but about finding hope in the midst of it.” N. T. Wright:
Following Jesus means picking up our cross and following him irrespective of what is happening around us. As Christ followers we are meant to die to our own desires and be awake to what God is doing. So in this session, let’s pray…
- For the grace to endure challenges we are facing
- For wisdom to represent Christ through our choices
- For the patience to become overcomers
- For the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit to make us witnesses for Jesus even in the seasons of trial
“Joy is the overflow of love, the fruit of the Spirit, the gift of the kingdom of God.
N. T. Wright:
How can your life become a gift to God’s kingdom and also to those around you?