This year, we put out a new Bible reading and prayer guide (if you don't have one, you can download it here). This year's guide is very similar to last year's guide, except that we've added a section on fasting. For every month that has 31 days, we will fast as a church on the 31st day. That means that in January, March, May, July, August, October, and December, we will be fasting on the 31st – 7 church-wide fasts for the year. Each time the fast rolls around, I will send out communication as to what I would like us as a church body to be considering in our prayers.
As a reminder, fasting is not extra-special pixie dust that you sprinkle on prayers to give them more weight. Fasting is putting your stomach where your heart is. It's first, being grieved, troubled, perhaps overjoyed, or concerned about something to the extent that food becomes a secondary matter to receiving an answer from the Lord. In that same stream, it's also confessing that our dependence on the Lord in daily life is of much more importance than actual bread. Communion with Him is bread for the soul, and we would be in eternal trouble without it. So imagine that every time your stomach aches with hunger, it's your soul crying out for time in prayer.
With that being said, I'd like you to join me in praying for Emmanuel Baptist Church's ministry to the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport. We have started the ball rolling on ministering to the people of this town by making in-roads into Wood Village (a neighborhood just down the street from us). However, we hit a road block with the mold remediation and emergency remodeling to the facility we were going to use for the ministry. I hate that for the kids of Wood Village. I hate that for our people who were so ready to serve them. But I can't help but think God might be driving us to our knees in prayer before we proceed. Shame on me for not directing us here sooner.
With that said, there are more lives in this city than just those in Wood Village. Let's also consider in this fast how the Lord might be calling individuals in our church to reach the lost and hurting in our city. Perhaps there are some that have a burden for young mothers considering abortion. The Lord may use this time to urge you to volunteer at Save A Life. Perhaps we may have many more that have a burden to reach the people of their neighborhoods. The Lord may use this time to open doors, create friendships, and inspire you toward radically ordinary hospitality. The point is that we needn't wait for clubhouses to be fixed to do ministry. The cities around us are crying out as the darkness closes in. May the Lord grant us clarity during this time on how to proceed.
Here is a succinct list on how to proceed in prayer:
- Pray that the Lord would prepare your heart with a burden for the people of Wood Village (whether you're going to be involved directly or not). Pray that he would prepare the hearts of the people in this community to hear and receive the gospel. Pray that we would see a harvest of people coming to faith in Christ. Pray that the clubhouse would be restored to working order in a timely fashion.
- Pray for the ministry that the Lord has for you. Pray that he would burden your heart for someone around you. Pray that he would make clear to you how your life should be spent bringing others into the worship of him.
- Let us all pray for how we may be a light in our neighborhoods. How can our homes have open doors to our neighbors? Pray that the Lord grants us relationships with our neighbors that are currently non-existent. Pray that our homes would be places where our neighbors can gather and hear and see the crystal clear message of the gospel.
I love you all, and I'm excited to see how the Lord prepares us to join in the work he's doing in this city.