Ezra 8:23, "So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer."
Fasting is a way to focus prayer. Our church is in an official period of discernment about our long-term relationship with the United Methodist Church. This week August 8-12, we ask everyone in our congregation to set aside time to fast and pray.
Fasting is a Biblical approach to finding discernment from God. When we deny our physical hunger for a time, our spiritual sensitivity can be heightened, thus helping us to hear God's voice more clearly. We are to ask the Holy Spirit's will to stir in our souls and guide us in the direction our church should take.
• Our DS, Dr. Tom Dolph, will meet with church leadership Thursday for clarification on our time of discernment.
• We are officially in a period of discernment about our long-term relationship with the UMC.
• We will decide whether or not we stay within the denomination.
• We anticipate numerous conversations both on and off campus in the coming weeks.
• We encourage everyone to ask God who we should be as a congregation prayerfully.
• This process will culminate in a vote of the membership of the congregation…not just elected leaders.
Adults are asked to fast from food from sun up to sun down (6:30 am to 8 pm) August 8-12. *Children and those who medically cannot abstain from food are asked to fast from sugar, meat, television, or anything they value. Instead of eating, you will spend your usual meal times with prayer and scripture that are laid out below.
GUIDELINES TO HELP YOU:
1. Be flexible and listen to the Holy Spirit. Don't get so caught up in the act of fasting itself that you forget you are fasting to discern what God is telling you about what First Methodist Monroe's relationship with the United Methodist church should be for the future.
2. Make sure you drink plenty of clear liquids while fasting.
3. Monitor your physical activities; you will need to limit some of your activities or workouts.
4. Prepare yourself for temporary mental discomforts, such as impatience, crankiness, and anxiety.
5. Expect some physical discomforts such as hunger pains, dizziness, headaches, and tiredness.
*If you are under a doctor's care, please consult them before you begin a sun up to sun down fast. You can also choose to give up one regular meal a day or fast for one whole day.
Each day we will have three prayers and scriptures for you to read. So, during your normal meal time, please look at the passages listed below. Read it. Pray it. Possibly spend some more time in deeper praying or journaling.
WHEN TO EAT:
• Begin each day before 6:30am with a light breakfast, and abstain from food until dinner at around 8pm.
• Or you may also choose to abstain from all food until dinner time.
• Do not get discouraged if you stumble on the fast; the point is not to be strict on your fast it is for you to spend more time focused on God.
Suggested Reading & Prayers
Morning: Acts 1-2
Lord, as I begin this time of fasting, fill me with your strength. Help me to use this as a time of growth, renewal, and healing. Calm my anxiety about what I might be giving up or times of discomfort that I might face. Provide me with the assurance that You will strengthen me during difficult times and meet me for sweet moments of spiritual growth and surrender. Help me focus not on what is being taken away but on what I’m gaining as I use this as a spiritual discipline. With you leading, Holy Spirit, I am ready. I dedicate this fast to You, Lord, and Your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
Lunch: Act 3-4
Pray that your heart, mind, and body will be open to hearing God during our discernment process. Pray that you will experience God’s love in a new and powerful way this week.
Dinner: Act 5
LORD, even the disciples must have been confused. Your son died. He rose again. And the disciples had to ask, “Now what?” We sit like followers, God. We wait. Like children, we wait to be told what to do next. Please send Jesus into our house, Lord. Send him into our hearts. United us in the message and the missing, God. Show us the way, and we will go. Unite us in spirit, and we will believe. Unite us in love, and we will love. We aren’t the only ones praying, either. Across the city, others are praying, too. Bind us together, Lord. Let us live as one. Amen
-From The Book of Uncommon Prayer
Breakfast: Acts 6
God of Love, who sent your Son, Jesus Christ, so that we might know what it's like to live passionately, help me to believe that my body is a temple and to see it as the vessel for my soul. I confess that I don't always honor my body. Help me to do that. Help me to use my body this week to listen passionately to you. I know that as your beloved, I am called to live a passionate life that brings glory to you. Help me to be passionate about the things that glorify you. Help me to listen to your guidance and identify your passion in me. Help me to live fully as your beloved, No matter the cost. Give me the courage to listen and live out your guidance. In the name of Jesus, your Beloved Son, Amen
-From We are Beloved
Lunch: Acts 7-8
Pray for our ministers at First Methodist Monroe that God may strengthen and give them guidance.
Rev. Brian Mercer, Rev. Shawn Hornsby, Rev. Kem Alexander, & Rev. John O'Leary
Dinner: Acts 9
O God, Our Father, we know our own weakness. Our minds are darkened, and by ourselves, we cannot find and know the truth. Our wills are week, and by ourselves, we cannot resist temptation or bring to its completion that which we resolve to do. Our hearts are fickle, and by ourselves, we cannot give you the loyalty which is your due. Our steps are faltering, and by ourselves, we cannot walk in your straight way. So this day, we ask you, to enlighten us; to strengthen us; to guide us, that we may know you and love you and follow you all the days of our life. Give your Church your blessing and your protection. Guide us in our thinking, that we may be saved from the heresies which destroy the faith. Strengthen us in our witness, that we may bring no discredit on the name, we bear. Inspire us in our fellowship, that those who enter here may find within us your friendship and friendship for their fellow men.
-From Prayers for the Christian year by William Barclay
Breakfast: Acts 10-11
Today I am turning my mind over to you, Lord, for help in making this right. My prayer today is for you to use me as an agent of the kingdom - to show me the ways I can best hasten the day, to help me see the ways I can serve, the ways I can recognize possibilities, the ways I can love, the ways I can encourage and the ways I can help our church family on our discernment journey. As I continue this prayer, I am claiming to radically wait on God, depend on God, and look to God for guidance. Amen
Lunch: Acts 12-13
Pray for First Methodist Monroe’s ministry leaders. That God will work through them and the ministries they lead to show Jesus to the world. Nannette Flowers - 50+, Olivia Pruett - Spiritual Formation and Guest, Josh Newton - Sr. High Youth, Natalie Tellifero - Jr. High Youth, & Jackie Kitchingham - Children’s Ministry
Dinner: Acts 14-15
Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.
-from Common Prayer: A liturgy for ordinary radicals
Breakfast: Acts 11-13
God, make us as the sun. Let the light of your love shine through us. Let your joy shoot from our bodies, so we are shining. Let us take your love into a world of darkness. There are so many people out there who are lost and waiting for someone to light the way. On this new day, make us servants, God. Let people look to us for light. Make us like the sun, God. Help us to be worthy of the job. When people look to us, show them the light of your love. Let us light the path so that they can find you, too. Amen
-from The Book of Uncommon Prayer
Lunch: Acts 14-17
Pray for First Methodist Monroe’s administrative staff and childcare ministries that God will support them and give them wisdom in all they do.
Dinner: Acts 17-20
Most High, glorious God, Enlighten the darkness of my heart, And give me right faith, Certain hope, And perfect charity, Wisdom and understanding, Lord, that I may carry out Your holy and true command. Amen.
Breakfast: Act 21-23
WE ARE GROWING WEARY, LORD. Our stomachs hurt. Our bodies ache. More than once, we’ve asked ourselves, “Why are we doing this?” Then we remember. We see the faces of our friends and family. We see our church. We see the roads we’ve begun to journey down, and we remember why we do this. Give us strength, Lord. Our hearts are willing- but our bodies need help! But we want you to strengthen our resolve- not just our bodies. Strengthen our hearts… and our stomachs will follow. Let us feel your love, and the rest will be easy. Your servants will not fail you. We are of one mind and heart, and we want to hear you. We are here to do your work. We are here to spread your love and your word. Give us rest and peace of mind. Let us put away those things that distract us from the job at hand. Help us remember that we are here in the name of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
-from The Book of Uncommon Prayer
Lunch: Acts 24-26
Pray for all who worship at First Methodist Monroe; For those who worship on campus at 8:30, 9, and 11am; For those that worship digitally via the radio, Facebook, YouTube, our website, and TV Ministry.
Dinner: Acts 27-28
God of the ages, by whose hand
Through years long past, our lives were led,
Give us new courage now to stand,
New faith to find the paths ahead.
Thou art the thought beyond all thought,
The gift beyond our utmost prayer;
No farthest reach where thou art not,
No height, but we may find thee there.
Forgive our wavering trust in thee,
Our wild alarms, our trembling fears;
In thy strong hand, eternally
Rests the unfolding of the years.
Though there be dark, uncharted space,
With worlds on worlds beyond our sight,
Still, may we trust thy love and grace,
And wait for thy word, Let there be li ht. Amen