In the Assemblies of God, the first week of the new year is usually set apart as a week of prayer. This is a wonderful opportunity to recommit ourselves to spending time with God on a consistent basis. Some refer to this as "personal devotions," others call it a daily "quiet time." It is simply a time to meet with God.
Over the next few weeks I'll be giving some guidelines as to how to have a fruitful quiet time. I want to start with the simple basics and will add some additional helps for your perusal along the way.
There are a number of articles on the web that can be very helpful. I'd encourage you to research the subject on your own and develop your own plan, one that works for you. There is so much information available that some are simply overwhelmed by all of the suggestions. I've attended a number of seminars on prayer and have been both helped and made to feel guilty for my lack of commitment! Let me suggest what I believe to be the bottom-line basics for a personal time with God.
Here is what you need: You, time, your Bible and God. That's it. Simply pick a time daily to meet with God, read from His Word and talk to Him. Don't start with some heroic plan of an hour a day and 15 chapters from Scripture if you aren't consistent with what you a currently doing. Pick an amount of time that you can keep and an amount of Scripture you will read. 5 minutes a day is better than 0 minutes a day!
Your quiet time could be as simple as this: Set aside 15 minutes. Read for 5, pray for 5 and listen for 5. It will help keep your day focused on spiritual priorities and enhance your spiritual development. Try it -- you might like it!
Where should you read? In 2012, we will be working through the Book of Acts on Sunday mornings. I'd like to encourage you to follow along with the Sunday sermons by reading from the focal chapter during the week. Info will be listed on the back of your connection card to help you remember. Week one will be Acts chapter one. There are 26 verses in the chapter. Following the Sunday sermon, read 4 verses a day Monday through Friday and 6 on Saturday and see what God will speak into your life!
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Q: Pastor, you stated that fasting should be a part of our lives. Could you elaborate a bit on fasting?
A: I'll be glad to discuss fasting over the next few weeks. The issue is bigger than I can do justice to in a single blog post. So, join in the discussion and feel free to ask additional questions as we go along.
In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus addresses three primary areas of Christian disciples ship. He gives instruction concerning "when you give," "when you fast," and "when you pray." A healthy spiritual life will be committed to each of those three disciplines, including fasting.
The Bible identifies three primary types of fasts. Arthur Wallis calls these the Absolute Fast, the Normal Fast and the Partial Fast.
The Absolute Fast is a fast of food and water. During this fast no food or beverage of any sort is consumed, including water. Esther called the nation to this kind of fast when the Jews were being threatened with extinction. It is not common and is used in times of extreme desperation, calling on God for divine intervention. This kind of fast should not exceed 3 days.
The Partial Fast is a fast of certain kinds of food or beverages. Commonly we hear people talk about giving something up for Lent. To refrain from candy, sodas, meats, etc. for a period of time is to engage in a Partial Fast. Daniel and his friends refused the king's foods in order to remain God honoring. They were committed to a Partial Fast. The time frame for this kind of a fast can be indefinite.
The Normal Fast is the one most common in Scripture. This is a fast of all food and any beverage that has nutritional value. Only water is consumed. Some will fast the Normal Fast for a meal, a day, a week or longer. A normally healthy individual can fast in this manner for approximately forty days, though this length of fast is rare in Scripture and in Christian practice.
I believe that every believer should incorporate some kind of fasting in their spiritual lives. God honors when we fast and pray.