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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

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."  - 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, ESV

In 2 Corinthians the apostle Paul asks the Corinthian church to keep their pledge to financially help poor Christians in Jerusalem.  These and the following verses yield valuable insight into understanding money.  Few issues in our lives are more important for our godliness than handling money well.  Often our prayers and fasting can have little sway with God, in part, because we are not living in conformity with God’s principle of sowing and reaping.

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“You’re all that, and a bag of chips!” Echoing from the halls of my childhood memories, I can still hear the preacher, in dramatic fashion, proclaiming this statement to the congregation. Like much of the Christianity practiced in our contemporary culture, the intended purpose of the phrase was to combat low self-confidence by infusing a sense of self-worth and value. On the one hand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging the inherent worth and dignity that human beings possess as image-bearers of the one, true, and living God – such is an amazing truth! However, as Christians we understand that the central message of the Bible is predicated on another truth – a devastating one. The humanity that formerly held preeminent status in God’s “very good” creation has fallen. Sin and death now comprise the human condition. Simply put, we’re not “all that.” In commenting on the Fall’s effect and God’s judgment on human nature, Donald Macleod once stated, “The [human] race needs a redeemer, but cannot itself produce one.” In light of this dilemma, the person and work of Christ becomes not only all the more necessary but all the more glorious. This season of prayer and fasting is a demonstration that we understand our own fallenness, frailty, and finitude, and that Christ is our only hope. It is a demonstration of our desire to experience more of Him.

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

In a November 2014 op-ed titled “On Thanksgiving Day, Remember Fast Day,” Dean Grodzins, visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Historical Society and a research associate at Harvard Business School, traced the little-known history of Fast Day in the American historical memory. Grodzins writes:

“Around 1740 . . . the New England colonies (except for Rhode Island, which always went its own way) began observing regular annual fasts and thanksgivings, corresponding to the local agricultural year. Fast Day was held typically in April; farmers were in effect asking for God’s forgiveness and blessing before they planted. Thanksgiving was held in November, to show God gratitude for the harvest. Only at this time did Thanksgiving come to be associated with a feast.”

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

When was the last time you couldn’t fall asleep because your mind was racing, and you couldn’t slow down your thoughts? Or you woke up in the middle of the night, shaken out of sleep because of something which had not gone right that day or because of some worry for the upcoming day? I often wonder, when all I need is to slow down and rest, why am I awake with my mind running so fast?

When this happens, one trick my father taught me as a kid is to quote, in order, the Psalms (or, let’s be honest, maybe just remember a snippet from some of them) until you fall asleep. Granted, this is a lot easier to do if you grew up in a church tradition that sings the Psalms regularly.  Nonetheless, the point of this trick is rest comes from being in God’s presence through His word and prayer.

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” - Matthew 20:28.

This passage from the Gospel of Matthew has always struck me.  If Jesus came not to be served, then why do we call ourselves His servants?  He came to serve us!  This can be quite perplexing.  If Jesus didn’t come so we could serve Him, then why did He come?  If Christianity was like any other theism, serving (read: owing) would be the proper logical response.  But being the God of the Bible’s image bearers, humanity's existence is not merely one of subjection to a “higher power.”  Jesus came to show us what it actually means to be human.

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” - Luke 14:7-11

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!” - Psalm 46:10

For quite some time, I wrongly believed this verse was a call to quiet my life and soul, to reject the world’s busyness, so that I may more fully know God. And, perhaps, there is a great deal of truth in such a premise, but as my seminary professor always liked to say, “right doctrine/belief, wrong text.” As I began to read the context around the verse, the entirety of Psalm 46, I noticed these poetic verses speak out of a troubled, perilous, and war-torn world, a tumultuous world created both by the evils of the earth and those of humanity. Verse 10, then, is not so much about quieting our inner-soul, as it is a call to place our confidence in the Lord amidst a dark and oftentimes terrifying world, to stop tarrying about like the rest of the fear-plagued world, and trust that all of history is moving toward God’s intended end, namely an entire created order singing His praise and honor (v. 10b).

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’” – Luke 14:15-20, ESV

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

On a recent Sunday after church, when I picked up my two-year-old son from children’s ministry, I asked the volunteer how he’d behaved that day. To my surprise, she told me that he’d behaved well (he’s been going through a tantrum stage). She warned me that his pants were a little loose and had fallen down once or twice. Bored by our conversation, he wriggled out of my arms to return to play with the other children. As he ran away to play, I noticed his loose pants slide down to his ankles, revealing his chubby legs and diaper. Some of the kids pointed and laughed at his “nakedness.” Oblivious to their taunting, he continued to happily play with a toy train that was nearby.  As he shouted “choo choo!” to no one in particular, I thought to myself, my son is literally “naked and unashamed.” He had no idea that he was supposed to be embarrassed because he was exposed in public. Naked and unashamed. In our appearance-obsessed culture, we rarely use these two words to describe ourselves. We may use one or the other, but rarely both.

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“Unless the Lord builds the house,

   those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,

   the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early

   and go late to rest,

eating the bread of anxious toil;

   for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

-- Psalm 127:1-2