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Christian Union

Devotionals

For several years, Christian Union called on Christians to join us two times per year in seeking God through fasting. These sorts of fasting initiatives are now part of Christian Union Day & Night, but the devotionals that were written for those fasts have continued to strengthen and encourage believers, so we have made them available here.

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

ThinkstockPhotos-178013733When a monk asks you a question, it’s generally wise to listen. I learned this lesson on an annual silent retreat at a monastery of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During his sermon, a brother was describing the various perspectives on the “real presence” of Christ in the eucharist, but, rather than tease out the fineries of the real presence of Christ in the elements, he suggested that, even better than inquiring into the presence of Christ, we might ask instead, “am I really present?”

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

ThinkstockPhotos-87741303For those of us who love the grace of the Gospel, who are convinced that God accomplishes through Christ everything we need for salvation, the idea that we must perform religious works, such as prayer or fasting, in order to receive grace and spiritual blessings from God doesn’t sit well. Here’s an illustration of what I’m talking about. 

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

ThinkstockPhotos-472815698“…and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.” – Revelation 14.3 

Narrative tension makes a story. Imagine that Cinderella and the prince had met in childhood, immediately delighted in one another, enjoyed the full support of their family and friends, married quickly, with no wedding snafus of any kind and little need for pre-marital counseling, and lived happily ever after. While that might be an attractive narrative for the couple, it makes for pretty uninteresting reading. We, the reader, know that a good story must include a significant amount of conflict to make for a satisfactory resolution.

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

Path of Light
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?

  Who shall dwell on your holy hill?     

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
  and speaks truth in his heart;
-Psalm 15: 1, 2

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

Prison-PrayerThe crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. -    Acts 16:22-26

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

Charitable Christians Talk“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. -Colossians 4:2-6, ESV

Those who seek God find themselves regularly and very naturally propelled into mission. At the foot of the cross we discover that we are not alone. If we linger long enough, the entire human race materializes before our eyes. We see many kneeling in reverence, pressing in close around us, with faces refashioned, renewed by tears of joy. Just beyond we can see others in various stages, from shame and pain to mild indifference or curiosity. Further out, we discern the outline of multitude of people, too numerous to count. In the shadow of the cross, conscious of and even covered by the sweat and blood of our Savior, we may also be surprised to find that we cannot turn away.

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

ThinkstockPhotos-464220555Fear and Fasting

What do these two have in common? Neither will happen when Jesus returns.

All fear, and tears for that matter, will be wiped away in His presence. Can you imagine what this will actually feel like? And never again will we fast because we will have our Friend and King with us. We will party without any threat of fear.

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

ThinkstockPhotos-118365690I find myself coming back time and again to the temptations of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Recently I've been struck anew by the strange, counterintuitive opening line of the story: "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." (4:1)

Led by the Spirit (God's presence, in line with His purposes)...into the wilderness (the place of emptiness, misery, loneliness, hardship, where God seems far from our experience)...to be tempted by the devil (exposed to dehumanizing evil). These are not realities we usually associate together. In the center of God's will, in the center of the storm, overwhelmed by the contrast between my experience and desires and God's (purported, but now called increasingly into question) will. 

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

ThinkstockPhotos-484794034Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. - Romans 14:10-12

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

ThinkstockPhotos-478165856A wise person said, “The greatest battles you will ever fight happen in bed alone in the dark.” King David (the boy who killed Goliath and the warrior who took down tens of thousands of Israel’s enemies) composed Psalm 4 in the throes of just such a battle—alone in the dark at night. 

A glance at the final stanza reveals who is ultimately the Victor: “I will lie down and sleep peacefully, for you, Lord, make me safe and secure.” But how does David go from crying out in the middle of the night, like so many of us, to resting in God? What can you and I learn from Psalm 4 as we wrestle with anxieties and temptations through this fast?

 1. David cries out to God

When I call out, answer me,
O God who vindicates me!
Though I am hemmed in, you will lead me into a wide, open place.
Have mercy on me and respond to my prayer!