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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.

We also, as Revelation reminds us, are participants in the cosmic unfolding story of redemption. And we are smack in the middle of the conflict. It’s one thing to appreciate and celebrate the conflict that makes a good story and it’s another altogether to live it. We don’t know the end of our stories, and, in the midst of tragedy and uncertainty, we wonder how it’s going to turn out—or if it will turn out at all. The temptation to resolve the tension with our own solution is ever present. After all, what is anxiety, worry or the desire to control our situation if not an effort to ease the tension? And, what is fasting if not a deliberate leaning into the tension, feeling it all the more and reminding ourselves that the resolution we await is not a temporary satiation of our angst but the final cosmic victory of the Lamb?

As it turns out, this Story has a soundtrack. We are, in the midst of the tension and struggle, learning a song that we will sing on the Last Day around God’s throne. We will bring our own stories, our perseverance in love of God and love of neighbor, into the very throne room of our Father. The ones who sing are, John writes, those “who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” We will sing songs informed by our discipleship. The call to persevere is a call to live backwards, from the inevitable victory of the Lamb to a personal story that is constantly shaped by His life and witness.

As we fast and pray together in this season, let’s remind ourselves of the story we indwell. May we joyfully persevere in learning the notes of a new song, with confident hope in the cosmic and coming victory of the Lamb. 

Teal McGarvey
Ministry Fellow at Harvard