I hope you are doing well and savoring the rich grace of our Lord Jesus Christ this afternoon. Whatever is going on in your life, no matter how this week has gone for you, the psalmist reminds us that the Lord reigns. And that’s all we need to know in order to give us joy (Psalm 97.1). All praise to His name!
As we begin this twenty-four-hour season together, I remind you that we do not fast and pray as those who do not know Jesus. We do not fast and pray in order to gain God’s attention and favor, or to bridge the gap between Him and us, or to earn some blessing from Him. In Jesus we already have God’s attention and favor, for Christ has bridged the gap between heaven and earth and by the work of the Spirit, every blessing is already ours.
When then do we fast and pray? To remind ourselves how dependent we are on Him. To discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. To let the pains of hunger mirror for us our far-greater need for the food that does not perish, the Bread of life himself. And to take food from our own mouths to give to the poor. In short, we fast and pray because our Savior fasted and prayed for us, perfectly obeying His Father’s will so that we might be accepted. We fast and pray so that we might be more like Him, and that His mercy and justice might flow through us to bless our city.
What then shall we pray for?
Thursday evening: confession and thanksgiving
Take this past Sunday’s sermon text as the basis for prayer. The passage we considered was Isaiah 59. Use verses 12–15 to frame a prayer of confession over your own sin, failing to love God as you ought and failing to love neighbor as yourself. Then use verses 15–21 to frame a prayer of thanksgiving for the Lord’s work in achieving salvation for his glory. Thank Him for His Arm, Jesus, who accomplished our redemption. Express your longings that people from all nations would fear and worship the One True God. And praise Him for the new covenant and the Holy Spirit, who is ours because of Jesus.
Friday morning: intercession
Take Paul’s words in Ephesians 3.14–21 as the basis for prayer. Take time to pray for one another. [If you do not have a copy of the membership list, just email me through this website, and (if you’re part of our church) I’ll send it to you.] Take time to pray for each member. Ask the Spirit to strengthen them in their inner being. Pray that Christ would feel at home in their heart. And ask that they would have power to know the love of Christ that passes knowledge so that they would be filled with all God’s fullness.
Friday midday: mission
Take the psalmist’s poem in Psalm 67 as the basis for prayer. Take time to pray for the gospel’s advance in our city. Ask the Spirit to bring specific churches, ministers, and gospel workers to mind. Pray for God’s word to spread rapidly and be honored through them (2 Thessalonians 3.1). Pray for parachurch ministries that aim to shine God’s light in the city, like the International Student ministry (reaching those who have never heard), Restore NYC (fighting human trafficking), Safe Families for Children (serving those in need), the Bowery and the New York City Rescue Mission (helping the poor), Chosen People ministries (bringing the gospel to our Jewish friends), and others. In all, pray that God would so bless His people in this city that everyone in this city would know His ways and His salvation (Psalm 67.2).
Friday evening: together
Please join us for two events tomorrow night.
- 6pm: Prayer time in Gano Chapel
- 7pm: Dinner in Haldeman Chapel
Feel free to come late or to come as long as you are able. We just hope to see you there.
Lord, as we call out to You as a united body spread across this city, we ask that You would pour out from the riches of Your grace everything we need to know, love, and follow You. Please accept our meager offering—a mere twenty-four hours of praying and fasting—not because of we are good, but because we are in Christ. May His obedient life make it acceptable, may His atoning death purify it from sin, and may His resurrection give us life by Your Spirit. Do this, we pray, that our joy would be full and that Your glory would be known here in New York and all around the world. For we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.