by Derek Gentle
Looking through John Piper's sermons, I came across the fact that his church, the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, observes Prayer Week each year in January. It was such a helpful way of emphasizing prayer, we started having Prayer Week at First Baptist in Tallassee. Below is information gleaned from our informational brochure.
Prayer Week is a time for us as a church family to begin our year with vigorous prayer, asking God to mature us spiritually, to lead us in ministry, and to empower our witness.
There are several ways you can participate in prayer week. Numerous options are provided in order to fit people's different schedules. Please do what works with your weekly schedule and what you feel comfortable doing. You are urged to stretch your comfort level and to give the Lord your very best.
Select from these ways in which you can participate:
1. Remember that we are created for God's pleasure and to display His power. Prayer is about getting in touch with God and about receiving His power.
2. Prepare your heart by spending time in the Word. Meditate on (think about) the Scriptures you read.
3. Confess any sin in your life; be honest with God.
4. Invite the Holy Spirit to fill you.
5. Be prepared to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
6. As you read the Scriptures and pray, listen for the voice of God.
As you are PrayerWalking. . . Move slowly to give yourself time to hear God and to pray. . . Keep your eyes and ears open. . . Be alert and pray about what you notice. . . Pray as you go, aloud (not loudly, but aloud). . . Drive-by Praying can be substituted if walking is not an option physically or if you are in a scattered rural area. A brochure is available in the education building with more about PrayerWalking.
Fasting is doing without food for one or more meals in order to give time to prayer and to focus on seeking God. Fasting is not just denying yourself food. Give the extra time left from food preparation and eating to spending longer times in prayer and reading God's Word "While fasting, if you dissipate your energy on numerous errands or busy-work to the neglect of spending special time with God, you will starve both physically and spiritually."
"Fasting is a means of humbling ourselves before God, letting Him know that we are willing to exchange physical comforts to seek Him for a spiritual feast! As a spiritual discipline, fasting is the act of abstaining from feeding the body in order to focus more fully on seeking God's face and feeding the spirit. This is a powerful discipline where God's Spirit is poured out upon us as we earnestly seek Him."
Make certain that you are in good health. If there is any question as to whether fasting is right for you, consult your physician. Some may substitute a television fast.
Resist the urge to have that "last big feast" before the fast. Wean yourself off caffeine and sugar products to ease your initial hunger or discomfort at the early stages of your fast. Buy some breath spray; mints or gum will make you hungry.
In your prayers, confess not only obvious sins, but less obvious ones as well, the sins of omission as well as sins of commission.
Many people are reluctant to tell others that they are fasting so they will avoid the sin of the Pharisees: fasting just to gain recognition for themselves, but it is OK to tell family members who have a need to know.
The people to be nominated to serve on these committees for
2001 are asked to meet and pray together in preparation for
the year's ministry. If you are not serving on one of these
committees, please select an area in which you have an
interest and join that group. Your participation will be