A Gift of Immeasurable Value
written by Jimmy Newkirk, Associate Pastor (August 15, 2023)
What's the best gift you've ever given? I'm sure some of you ladies just promptly said, "birth". I can't argue with that. But how about after that?
I'd like to challenge you to consider giving an even more priceless gift: the gift of committing to fast and pray. Would you be willing to fast and pray specifically for your loved ones, or for your Church, one meal per week? How about two or three meals per week?
Job, in 1:4-5, made a routine practice of praying for his children, even making sacrifices for them, just in case they had sinned. Moses routinely interceded for the people of Israel, petitioning God to the point of even asking to be removed from God's book if God wouldn't forgive His people (Exodus 32:32).
At its very nature, prayer is an expression of our dependency on God. Fasting along with prayer provides a physical expression and a deeply personal reminder that we are not self-sufficient and in need of God's provision. While we often try to convince ourselves that we are self-sufficient, going without food - even for a short time - quickly reminds us of this fallacy and drives us to God in humble adoration and confession of our limitations and sins. We are vividly reminded to be thankful for God's provision and innately prompted to ask God for what only He can provide. Combining fasting with prayer helps us remember that prayer is not rubbing the genie's bottle to grant our wishes; prayer is a position of humble submission before a holy, almighty God.
Admit it, we often feel helpless when we observe the difficulties in the lives of those we care for or in circumstances beyond our control. But we are far from helpless. We have the opportunity to join our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to come alongside our family and friends in power and fight the real battles of spiritual warfare (2 Cor 10:3-5; Eph 1:17-19).
God hears us when we earnestly seek Him. Pray for your loved ones before they face problems. Pray for them as they go through difficult times. Pray that they would walk with the Lord regardless of their circumstances. Pray that God would demonstrate His grace and love in powerful ways in and through those for whom you pray.
I've written previously to suggest ideas and guidelines for prayer as well as for fasting. You can find much of that material at: coatsbaptist.com/prayer as well as on previous blogposts (e.g., Nov. 20, 2022; March 12, April 16, and June 18, 2023). I won't repeat those here.
But I will repeat the challenge: are you willing to give the priceless gift of prayer and fasting? Pray for your children and grandchildren even if you don't have them yet. Perhaps your circumstances are such that you should pray for children and youth and friends in our Church or in your neighborhood. Regardless of circumstances, you can give a gift that is beyond measure.
Fasting and prayer are gifts that can be given repetitively. And, while the gift can be returned and it can also be re-gifted, there aren't any refunds needed. Remember, it's not just the thought that counts. May God bless you as He blesses others through you.