|21 December 2013|
|Prayer, Fasting & Seeking God|
Resources for You to Explore
You may be experienced in setting aside extended times of prayer and fasting, or this may possibly be the first time you've ever fasted.
Regardless of how experienced you are, below are a variety of resources you will find helpful as you enter into a season of prayer and fasting.
The first category contains resources to give you perspective on prayer, especially prayer for transformation of your life and circumstances, and for an entire nation. The second category provides understanding on the subject of fasting. The last category examines broader concerns and focuses on the need to seek God wholeheartedly while living a holy, consecrated life.
RESOURCES ON: Prayer || Fasting || Seeking God
WrittenJonathan Edwards (1703-58)
Jonathan Edwards was a leader of the Great Awakening in North America in the 1730's and 40's. For twenty-five years in Northampton, Massachusetts, he pastored the largest and most influential church outside of Boston in all of New England. He spent the last years of his life as a missionary to the Housatonic Indians, and then as president of Princeton University, where he died due to a botched small pox vaccine. He and his wife, Sarah, raised 11 children. Edwards' prolific writings are so widely studied and influential even today that American church historian Perry Miller has called Edwards "the greatest philosopher-theologian yet to grace the American scene."
An Humble Attempt (128 pages – Kindle: $0.99; Webpage: Free; See also Praying Together for True Revival, a version edited "for today's reader": $10.42)
The longer title of this short book is An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God's People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ's Kingdom. The book came into being as Edwards' response to a pamphlet written by Scottish pastors. In the 1744 several Scottish pastors organized scores of already functioning prayer societies to commit for two years to praying Saturday evenings, Sunday mornings, and the first Tuesday of each quarter for revival. Two years later, in 1746, they were so gratified with the results that a larger group of Scottish pastors published A Memorial, calling Christians worldwide to join this "concert of prayer" for seven years!
Edwards was so supportive of the idea that he published An Humble Attempt, which reproduces the brief Memorial and includes Edwards' attempt to provide additional theological foundations and answer objections he was sure the proposal would face. Edwards' Attempt did not catch on in his own day, but became one of the major catalysts for the Second and Third Great Awakenings. May God be pleased to use this powerful book to fuel something of a similar magnitude yet again!
Pastor John Mulinde is the founder and leader of World Trumpet Mission, an international ministry that promotes transforming revival. John Mulinde and WTM have been a part of the work of transformation that God has brought about in the nation of Uganda and in nations all over the world. For almost three decades, John has devoted his life to "blow the trumpet" in the nations (Joel 2:1), calling the church to repentance and preparing the Body of Christ for the day of the Lord's return. John and his wife Sheila have nine children and live in Kampala, Uganda.
(YouTube; DVD, CD, mp3, or mp4: $3-$7)
What has happened when God's people pray and yet there is still no victory? Is God unable or is there something we are missing? Pastor John Mulinde takes an in-depth look at why there is so much prayer going on in the nations and yet so few who have truly entered into the fullness of God's purposes. This is a life-changing teaching that will challenge and inspire you to reach for all God has for you.
J. Edwin Orr (1912-1987)
Dr. J. Edwin Orr's expertise on religious revivals throughout history was unparalleled during his lifetime. He was a husband and father of four, ordained in the ministry, served as a US Air Force chaplain in World War II, and over the course of his life earned two doctorates, wrote thirty books, and traveled to over 150 countries promoting revival and renewal in the church. He served as a professor of history of awakenings at Fuller Theological Seminary's School of World Mission for the last twenty years of his life.
The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening
(26 minutes – YouTube; DVD for purchase: $14.95; Audio: Free)
In this talk recorded at the National Prayer Congress in Dallas, Texas, in 1976, J. Edwin Orr surveys the history of revival and awakening in America and around the world, beginning shortly after the American Revolution and ending with the Welsh Revival of 1904-05 that spread all over the globe. Orr highlights the indispensable role that united, extraordinary prayer played in each revival during that period, noting also how that united prayer looked different from revival to revival. The implications of Orr's powerful and straightforward message are simple: revival comes from God, and if you want revival you must pray. Encouragement to help motivate and sustain that kind of prayer abounds in Orr's message.
JUMP TO RESOURCES ON: Prayer || Fasting || Seeking God
Articles and Written SermonsBill Bright (1921-2003)
Bill Bright was the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru), currently the world's largest Christian ministry, which Bill Bright led for more than 50 years. The ministry now serves people in 191 countries through a staff of 26,000 full-time employees and more than 225,000 trained volunteers. Bright was so motivated by the Great Commission that in 1956 he wrote a booklet titled "The Four Spiritual Laws," which has been printed in some 200 languages and distributed to more than 2.5 billion people, making it the most widely disseminated religious booklet in history.
In 1979, Bright commissioned the JESUS film, a feature-length documentary on the life of Christ, which has since been viewed by more than 5.1 billion people in 234 countries and has become the most widely viewed, as well as most widely translated, film in history (786 languages). In 1996 Bright was presented with the prestigious Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, worth more than $1 million. Bright donated all of his prize money to causes promoting the spiritual benefits of fasting and prayer. Billy Graham, a long-time friend, called Bill Bright "a man whose sincerity and integrity and devotion to our Lord have been an inspiration and a blessing to me ever since the early days of my ministry."
Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer
(Online Booklet: Free)
This 11-page online booklet is both an excellent and very brief introduction to fasting. It covers reasons for fasting, types of fasting, health concerns, the spiritual benefits of fasting, and what to expect while fasting. Dr. Bright begins this booklet with the bold claim, "Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines. Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life."
Jump to any chapter of interest:
1. Your Personal Guide to Fasting & Prayer
2. Why You Should Fast
3. How to Fast Safely
4. How Long & What Type of Fast
5. Physical & Spiritual Preparation
6. Managing Your Schedule While Fasting
7. Dealing with the Responses of Friends and Loved Ones
8. How to Make Your Spiritual Experience the Best it Can Be
9. How to Maintain Nutritional Balance and Health from Beginning to End
10. What Physical Effects to Expect
11. How to Finish Your Fast in a Healthy Way
7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting and Prayer
(Online Booklet: Free)
In this 7-page online booklet Bill Bright discusses the specifics of how you might go about a fast, before, during, and afterward. Bright highlights the helpfulness, at the outset of a fast, of: 1) clearly stating your objectives and prayers in your fast, 2) determining and committing to the kind and length of your fast, and 3) preparing yourself both spiritually and physically. Intentionality and thoughtfulness of how you pursue God spirituality during a fast are keys to success, and Dr. Bright has helpful and succinct advice to offer. How you end a fast matters, as well as your expectation – in faith, during and and after the fast – of God's hearing your prayers and responding to your fasting. Throughout every part – before, during, and after – prayer is indispensable.
Jump to any chapter of interest:
1. 7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting & Prayer
2. How to Begin Your Fast
3. While You Fast
4. Breaking Your Fast
5. A Final Word
6. How to Experience and Maintain Personal Revival
7. 6 Vital Questions About Prayer
A Hunger for God
(PDF: Free; Kindle: $5; Paperback: $15)
In this book John Piper argues that fasting is an expression of "homesickness" for God. It is like an exclamation point at the end of our prayers saying, "This much, O God, I want you!"
Table of Contents:
Introduction: A Homesickness For God
1. Is Fasting Christian? New Fasting For The New Wine
2. Man Shall Not Live By Bread Alone The Desert Feast Of Fasting
3. Fasting For The Reward Of The Father Jesus' Radical God-Orientation In Fasting
4. Fasting For The King's Coming How Much Do We Miss Him?
5. Fasting And The Course Of History A Call For Discernment And Desire
6. Finding God In The Garden Of Pain A Different Fast For The Sake Of The Poor
7. Fasting For The Little Ones Abortion And The Sovereignty Of God Over False Worldviews
Conclusion: Why Does God Reward Fasting?
Bill Bright (See bio above)
The Coming Revival: America's Call to Fast, Pray and Seek God's Face
(224 pages – Paperback: $1-4)
The Coming Revival begins with a moving account of how God led Bill Bright, his wife, and many of the staff and friends of Campus Crusade for Christ to fast, pray, and seek God's face for forty days in 1994. After that fast, Bright and others invited many of America's Christian leaders to gather in Orlando, Florida, in December of that year for three days of fasting and prayer for America's leaders and for a great revival in America and the world through the call to fasting, prayer, and seeking God's face. Over six hundred attended, and many cited those days as among the most significant of their lives.
This book, in part, is that call. In the middle of the book Dr. Bright draws attention to the moral decline of our incredibly privileged and influential nation and to the great degree of spiritual impotence of the church in America. Through biblical and historical examples of God's people seeking his face through prayer, fasting, humbling themselves, and repenting – coupled with God's repeated and dramatic responses to that prayer and fasting – Bright argues that nothing less than faithful fasting and prayer and seeking God's face will be the answer to our problems today. He writes, "We need not wait for a sovereign act of God to bring revival.... Our task is to surrender to the Lordship of Christ and the control of the Holy Spirit, fast and pray, and obey God's Word. Meeting these conditions, we can expect the Holy Spirit to transform our lives" (page 89).
To that end, in the last part of the book Bright thoroughly answers a barrage of questions about fasting, such as, "Why do we need to fast?" and "How does fasting help?" In successive chapters he responds to all kinds of excuses for not fasting and offers pages of practical and spiritual advice that will be helpful before, during, and after fasting. Dr. Bright brings to bear over 50 years of experience of walking with the Lord in this book that is sure to increase your faith and to help you humble yourself, pray, seek God's face, and turn from sin through fasting.
Jentezen Franklin (1962- )
Jentezen Franklin is the senior pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia (since 1989) and Free Chapel OC (Orange County) in Irvine, California (since 2007). His church begins each year with a 21-day fast together. While preparing for a career as a saxophone player, Jentezen felt led by God to become an evangelist. When his brother graduated college, Jentezen dropped out and the two of them began traveling as an evangelistic team. Having visited Free Chapel annually as an evangelist for some years, Franklin became the congregation's pastor when Roy Wellborn, the church's senior pastor, died. Currently, over 10,000 attend Free Chapel each week. Jentezen is the author of New York Times best sellers, Right People, Right Place, Right Plan and Fasting.
(256 pages – Kindle: $8.79; Hardcover: $12.98)
Franklin defines fasting as "refraining from food for a spiritual purpose," and points out that fasting is included among the three normal Christian duties Jesus speaks about in Matthew 6: "When you give...," "When you pray...," and "When you fast." Jesus not only taught us to fast, but he exemplified fasting (Matt 4:2). If he could have accomplished all he came to do without fasting, why would he fast? Franklin's answer is, "The Son of God fasted because he knew there were supernatural things that could only be released that way" (page 14). And if he needed to fast, how much greater is our need to fast?
After discussing some of the differences between types and lengths of fasts, Franklin says there's no formula to determine which is right for you. He simply encourages his readers to begin obeying Jesus's instruction through less intense fasts, working their way up to more intense fasts. The minimum measure and starting point of fasting is whether the degree to which you give up food is meaningful to you: "If it means something to you, it will mean something to God" (35). The goal is humble dependence and love for God. Recalling when he and his wife were first dating and were so caught up in each other that when they went out for a meal they rarely ate all their food, Jentezen writes, "When we are...lovesick for our first love, fasting is easy" (171). For years Franklin's church has fasted together for the first 21 days of the year.
The challenge he leaves his reader with is this: Compare notes at the end of a year in which you ate normally for the first 21 days and one in which you fasted for the first 21 days. Did 21 days of normal eating at the beginning of the year accomplish as much as 21 days of fasting at the beginning of the year – and periodic fasting throughout the year – accomplished?
Dallas Willard was a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Philosophy and a Southern Baptist minister.
The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives
(288 pages - Kindle: $9.78; Paperback: $13.76)
Willard believes that the heart of the New Testament message is that we can become like Christ in character and in power by doing one thing: by following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself. We can, through faith and grace, become like Christ by practicing the types of activities he engaged in – by arranging our lives around the activities he himself practiced in order to remain constantly at home in the fellowship of his Father. What activities did Jesus practice? Such things as solitude and silence, prayer, simple and sacrificial living, intense study and meditation on God's word and God's ways, and service to others.
The practice of what he practiced in his love for God will prove rich soil for our own love for the Father and the Son, by the Holy Spirit, to flourish. And our love for Jesus ought to manifest itself, at least in part, through a resolute will to be like him whom we love. The Spirit of the Disciplines is written to aid you in understanding the disciplines that Jesus practiced and the revolutionary results that can come from them.
Table of Contents:
Foreword and Preface
1. The Secret of the Easy Yoke
2. Making Theology of the Disciplines Practical
3. Salvation is a Life
4. "Little Less Than a God"
5. The Nature of Life
6. Spiritual Life: The Body's Fulfillment
7. St. Paul's Psychology of Redemption – The Example
8. History and the Meaning of the Disciplines
9. Some Main Disciplines for the Spiritual Life
10. Is Poverty Spiritual?
11. The Disciplines and the Power Structures of This World
Appendix I. Jeremy Taylor's Counsel on the Application of Rules for Holy Living
Appendix II. Discipleship: For Super-Christians Only?
Audio & VideoJohn Piper
Prayer, Meditation, and Fasting: The Pursuit of Communion with God
Over the course of this six-hour seminar, John Piper discusses:
• Biblical passages on communion with God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You can also read the notes that go with the seminar here.
A Hunger for God
Sermon series (January 1 – February 19, 1995)
• Prayer, Fasting, and the Course of History
• When the Bridegroom Is Taken Away, They Will Fast—With New Wineskins
• Man Shall Not Live on Bread Alone
• Fasting for the Safety of the Little Ones
• Fasting for the King's Coming
• Fasting for the Father's Reward
• A Fast for Waters That Do Not Fail, Part 1
• A Fast for Waters That Do Not Fail, Part 2
RESOURCES ON: Prayer || Fasting || Seeking God
Seeking GodMartyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)
Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a Welsh minister, preacher and medical doctor. For two years after obtaining his MD and practicing medicine in London, Lloyd-Jones struggled over what he sensed was a calling to preach. In 1927 he returned to Wales accepting an invitation to minister at a church in Aberavon, where he served for over a decade. For more than forty years he preached two to three sermons per week, the final thirty of which were spent as the minister of Westminster Chapel in London. Lloyd-Jones was well known for his style of expository preaching, and the Sunday morning and evening services and Friday evening Bible studies meetings at which he officiated drew crowds of several thousand. Audio recordings of many of his sermons can be accessed for free at mljtrust.org.
(320 pages – Paperback: $18; Original Sermon Audio Recordings: Free, approx. 45-50 min each)
Revival contains a series of twenty-four sermons that Dr. Lloyd-Jones preached in 1959 during the one hundredth anniversary of the Welsh Revival of 1859. The revival started in Wales, swept across England, and went throughout the United States and many other parts of the world. Lloyd-Jones longed that God would use the centenary of it to stir his people to a renewed quest for revival, by which he meant the new quality of spiritual life that comes through knowing the greatness and nearness of our holy, gracious, Creator.
The urgency of the sermons in this book testifies to the depth of his conviction that without revival in the church there is really no hope for the Western world at all. In it Dr. Lloyd-Jones draws principles from the lives of Old and New Testament characters as well as expounding some of the great prayers of the Bible. Clearly and forcefully, he presents the circumstances accompanying revival in the past, why each generation needs it, and how it will come about today. We must come to the sovereign God, forsake our sin, and wait upon Him for this special, essential outpouring. To acknowledge our present impotence and cry to God for such a visitation is, as he saw it, a supreme priority for the church today. But we shall not do this until we grasp the need for revival, and that will not happen until we see that nothing less can help us (adapted from the foreword by J.I. Packer).
A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
Coming home from work as a teen, A.W. Tozer overheard a street preacher say,"If you don't know how to be saved...just call on God." When Tozer arrived he climbed into the attic and heeded the preacher's advice. In 1919, five years after his decision to follow Christ, and without formal theological training, Tozer accepted an offer to pastor his first church, and he continued in pastoral ministry until the end of his life.
Born into poverty, Tozer was a self-educated man and an omnivorous reader who wrote more than forty books, at least two of which are widely considered classics: The Pursuit of God, and The Knowledge of the Holy. Prayer was of vital personal importance for Tozer, who "seemed to burn the midnight oil in pursuit of God," wrote a Samuel Zwemer. According to his biographer, James L. Snyder, "His preaching as well as his writings were but extensions of his prayer life." His writings impress on the reader the necessity to abandon worldly comforts in favor the deeper life that comes with following Christ.
The Pursuit of God
(90 pages – Ebook: Free; Kindle: Free; Paperback: $3-$6)
The Pursuit of God is Christian classic written for anyone longing for a deeper experience with God. In it Tozer masterfully and pastorally engages the head and the heart, inviting the reader to think deeply about the truth of God and to come alive to God's presence surrounding, sustaining, and pursuing his children. "This book is a modest attempt," Tozer wrote, "to aid God's hungry children so to find Him."
Table of Contents:
1. Following Hard After God
2. The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing
3. Removing the Veil
4. Apprehending God
5. The Universal Presence
6. The Speaking Voice
7. The Gaze of the Soul
8. Restoring the Creator-Creature Relation
9. Meekness and Rest
10. The Sacrament of Living
The Knowledge of the Holy
(128 pages – PDF: Free; Audible: $15; Paperback: $8)
The Knowledge of the Holy illuminates God's attributes—from infinitude and omnipotence to mercy and love—and in doing so, attempts to restore the majesty and wonder of God in the hearts and minds of all Christians. A modern classic of Christian testimony and devotion, The Knowledge of the Holy shows us how we can rejuvenate our prayer life, meditate more reverently, understand God more deeply, and experience God's presence in our daily lives.
Table of Contents:
1. Why We Must Think Rightly About God
2. God Incomprehensible
3. A Divine Attribute: Something True About God
4. The Holy Trinity
5. The Self-existence Of God
6. The self-sufficiency Of God
7. The Eternity Of God
8. God's Infinitude
9. The Immutability Of God
10. The Divine Omniscience
11. The Wisdom Of God
12. The Omnipotence Of God
13. The Devine Transcendence
14. God's Omnipresence
15. The Faithfulness Of God
16. The Goodness Of God
17. The Justice Of God
18. The Mercy Of God
19. The Grace Of God
20. The Love Of God
21. The Holiness Of God
22. The Sovereignty Of God
23. The Open Secret
John Mulinde (see bio, above)
Set Apart for God: The Call to a Surrendered Life
(128 pages – Paperback: $8-14)
Set Apart for God is written from the conviction that "communities are transformed when a few people in them reach a point of yearning for God so desperately that they will pay any price to see His intervention" (page 14). In it, Mulinde's central claim is that, for his kingdom purposes, God is seeking people "set apart" for him, totally separated from the allurements of the world and fully yielded to his will. Surveying the lives of numerous biblical saints, he argues that this was the secret of each person in the Bible who was powerfully used by God, and that it is still the secret to God's power today. He insists that "the call to be set apart is not about going away for a few days of fasting and prayer" (page 33). It is, rather, a call to a new lifestyle of total consecration. Mulinde powerfully describes the idols of our hearts like hooks that the world can easily throw its ropes around and keep us from being fully set apart for God and disentangled from the world's system. By God's grace we have the ability to deal with these idols.
The reasoning that there is nothing we can do about our sins and that they are simply a part of us is a lie. We can – and must – be set apart from all our sin that "so easily besets us" (Hebrews 12:1). Mulinde has no delusions that being set apart from sin and the world and being set apart for God will be easy. There is a price to pay to walk with God, and a lot of things may have to change. After helping his readers to recognize those things which hold them back, he helps us recognize that not we, but only Jesus, can overcome them. The answer, he says, is not to focus on our limitations, but to to focus on Jesus. "Once you discover the One who alone can change your life, it is only logical that you stop everything else and go after Him. Seeking God must be our first priority. God must come first, and then the other things can find their place around Him" (pages 107-08). Set Apart for God offers profound help to do just that.
Table of Contents:
Part 1: The Call of the Hour
1. The Call of the Hour
2. Sowing for Victory
3. Set Apart: Biblical Examples
4. Idols of the Heart
6. Procrastination and Distractions
7. Prison Gates
Part 2: The Process
8. Surrender: The Starting Point
9. Redeeming the Time
10. True Worship
11. A People of the Word
12. Responding to the Call
John Mulinde and Mark Daniel
Pastor John Mulinde is the founder and leader of World Trumpet Mission, an international ministry that promotes transforming revival. Read more of his bio, above.
Pastor Mark Daniel is the U.S. Director of World Trumpet Mission. He is also the Senior Pastor of Focal Point Church and a director of a World Trumpet Mission base that prepares missionaries for revival, in Orlando, Florida. Mark travels internationally to call people to a life lived solely for the purposes of God, and to spread a passion to see those purposes fulfilled in this generation. He and his wife Becky have three boys and live in Orlando, Florida.
Counting the Cost
(3 Sessions – DVD, CD, or mp3: $10-$21)
Many people want to see a great work of God's Spirit transform their nation. But how many are willing to pay the price to this happen? These three teaching sessions encourage the body of Christ to believe that God is able to bring transformation into every circumstance. At the same time they challenge us with the reality that we, as His people, are the ones He is requiring to pay the price to see this take place. These sessions were recorded at the World Trumpet Mission National Leadership Retreat in Leesburg, Florida in October 2007.
Dr. Kaiser is the Colman M. Mockler distinguished Professor of Old Testament and President Emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Prior to his time at Gordon-Conwell, Dr. Kaiser taught at Wheaton College and at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Kaiser currently serves on the boards of several Christian organizations. He has authored, edited, or contributed to over forty books, including: Hard Sayings of the Old Testament, The Messiah in the Old Testament, Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning, and Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to the Nations. Dr. Kaiser and his wife, Marge, have four children and seven grandchildren.
Revive Us Again: Biblical Insights for Encouraging Spiritual Renewal
(288 pages – Paperback: $13.45)
From Genesis and Exodus, through Samuel, Kings, Chronicles and the minor prophets, and then into the Gospels and Acts, in the sixteen chapters of Revive Us Again Walter Kaiser surveys sixteen revivals that occurred in the Bible. Kaiser begins by defining biblical revival and why it is needed, enumerating characteristics common to all of the revivals in the Bible, and showing why it is worthwhile to study them. Through studying them, Kasier's aim is to create a desire in believers for revival today, to help them learn how to go about seeking and preparing for revival, and to show them what kinds of people God uses in revivals. At the end of his own study, Kaiser writes, "I conclude that there can be no revival without the Lord initiating it and carrying it out. But I also conclude that no one can hide behind the doctrine of God as the explanation for why we have not had a revival in our day or the reason that the last great revival in America occurred in 1905-06.
There are essential factors for revival, such as repentance, prayer, the preaching of the Word of God, humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and earnestly seeking his face" (pg. 18). The Bible's own accounts of revival show us our part that we must play if revival is to occur in and through us. Kaiser is right in claiming that these accounts of revival in both the Old and New Testament were written "for our instruction" today (Rom 15:4), and his book is an excellent help in heeding their instruction.
Table of Contents:
1. It is time to Ask God to Revive Us Once Again
2. It is time to Get Rid of Our Idols
3. It is time to Confess Our Sin
4. It is time to Serve the Lord Only
5. It is time to Let God Be God
6. It is time to Seek the Lord
7. It is time to Pray to the Lord
8. It is time to Turn Back to the Lord
9. It is time to Humble Ourselves before the Lord
10. It is time to Renew the Work of the Lord
11. It is time to Rejoice in the Lord
12. It is time to Prepare for the Lord
13. It is time to Embrace the Gift of the Holy Spirit
14. It is time to Ask for a Change of Heart
15. It is time to Advance the Missionary Cause of Christ
16. It is time to Renew Evangelism in the Church