21 Days Prayer and Fasting
Daily Readings and Devotional
A Guide to Prayer and Fasting
21 Days Prayer and Fasting
Change. We all long for it. We want to see change in our lives, in our families, in our country, and in our world. Throughout history many people have promised change, from political and religious figures to self proclaimed experts and self help guides. But lasting change and true transformation only comes through Jesus Christ. Our prayers are often for God to change this situation or that person. But what if God is looking to bring about change in and through us? Over the next 21 days we will encounter God through scripture, prayer, and fasting and allow him to change our hearts and minds. Only then we will see breakthroughs in our families, our community, our city, and our world.
Praying the Lord's Prayer
Day 1 - God is at work
Today we begin 21 days of prayer and fasting. As you set apart these three weeks to seek God, know that God has already heard your prayer. He is already at work on your behalf. What specific clarity of vision are you seeking from God during this time? Write down your prayer so you can reflect on it at the end of the 21 days. Spend time praying for God to speak to you and give you strength.
Day 2 - When you fast
Growing up I never practiced the discipline of fasting. In fact, I never remember anyone talking about it or challenging me as a new believer to practice it. It wasn’t until I became part of New Life and God began to teach us as a church that He wanted us to fast. This has led us to fast as a church every year and on a regular basis personally. Fasting is never an easy thing to do. It never comes easy but starts with making a decision to obey. Jesus didn’t say “if you want to fast,” but “when you fast.” The truth is that fasting must be an act of the will surrendered to the will of the One that we love and follow. "Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness" (1Timothy 4:7). Fasting is a great discipline and has been super rewarding. Be encouraged and press in to growing in the discipline of fasting.
Day 3 - The Bread of Life
In John 6, Jesus performs perhaps two of his most famous miracles. He fed the multitudes with five loaves and two fish and then walked on the water…during a sea storm! But it is in the words that he spoke to those who pursued him afterwards where we can find encouragement and strength during this fast. You see, those who pursued after him were not doing so because of who he was (Lord, Savior, Messiah), but they did so for the bread (the physical kind) he had provided them. And, in teaching them what their hearts should be pursuing after, Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." During this fast in the midst of our hunger, let us continue to pursue after who Jesus is! He is the bread of life, and in him we find a satisfying fullness and a completeness that no meal, no matter how flavorful or savory, could ever duplicate.
Day 4 - God's Word
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, but is packed with so many powerful truths! This psalm tells us who God is and shows us how to walk with Him each day. Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path." God's Word keeps us from sinning and guides us on the right path. As you read through this psalm, see what characteristics of God stand out to you. Here are a few to note: 1. Righteous (verses 7, 62, 75, 106, 123, 138, 144, 160, 164, 172) 2. Trustworthy (verse 42) 3. Truthful (verses 43, 142, 151, 160) 4. Faithful (verse 86) 5. Unchangeable (verse 89) 6. Eternal (verses 90,152) 7. Light (verse 105) 8. Purity (verse 140)
Day 5 - Seek First
The best way to get the most out of your fast is to get your worship right. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus said; “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Fasting doesn’t eliminate the pressures of life, distractions and competition for your affections. Life continues to march forward and doesn’t stop or slow down because you are fasting but one thing Godly fasting does accomplish is a re-ordering of your worship. Seek first, Jesus, above food, worries, chaos, work and relationships and then rest in Him. As you reprioritize your worship, allowing Jesus first place above all things, everything else in life lines up properly and thus empowers you to live and look more like Him.
Day 6 - Empty Me
This is a message from God to His people who were frustrated with His lack of response to their fasting. It's easy to confuse fasting with a hunger strike to get God to do what you want. But this chapter says what He wants. Pray that God will use your experience with hunger and discomfort to permanently alter how you see those in the world who are lost and needy. Pray that God will empty you of all that is you and fill you with all that is Him.
Day 7 - Your offering
Broken and poured out. You see those words in both the story of the woman and the last supper. Since bread and wine are likely not options for you to remember Jesus during these 21 days, do what the woman did. Do what Jesus did. Live your life broken and poured out in remembrance of what He has done for you. How can your life be a living sacrifice to Christ? Talk to God about things in your life that need to be broken and poured out like that vase of perfume.
Day 8 - Help
Three kingdoms joined forces to surprise attack the Kingdom of Judah. “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” (2 Chronicles 20:3 NIV) Some situations are life or death situations. A medical emergency. An unexpected enemy filled with hate. A family with basic physical needs. I always say you haven't tried everything until you have tried fasting and prayer. Our city filled with violence, needs a church to fast together, as it is a life and death situation for many of our neighbors and even some of our own. Please fast and pray for our city. The greater battle is spiritual and will come when we unite in fasting and prayer. “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.” (2 Chronicles 20:4 NIV)
Day 9 - What pleases you?
Fasting is a powerful principle for realigning our lives with the reality of God. It helps remind us of the mysterious Creator who holds all things together by his powerful word (Hebrews 1:3). We have learned in this world that if we want to go on living we must have food. It is a basic and essential need. Without it we die. But in fasting we are acting against this created norm and appealing to a higher reality, a greater truth. In fasting, we remind ourselves that it is God who sustains us and that food is a means to an end. In fasting, we recognize the greater need and the ultimate Sustainer of all life. It is God we seek; it is Him we desire! He alone holds our life in His hands. When this principle has fully taken root we no longer consider our decisions based on what seems most likely to succeed in the physical, but begin to ask, God is this what pleases you? In His Word we find the way of life and in obedience to the Life Giver we find our sustenance. As my body calls out to say "I need food!" I am reminded even more, it’s not food I need but God. Jesus answered, "It is written, 'Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)
Day 10 - The enemy is defeated
The gospel of Mark begins with a wham! Jesus is on point from the start. Preaching, healing, relieving people from under Satan's influence! The first message that Luke records in his gospel is Jesus’ proclamation of Jubilee. Jubilee has arrived with Jesus! Jubilee was the gift that God had given his people. Every 50 years (after 7 sabbatical years) the trumpet would sound and all debts would be forgiven, all slaves would be freed, all land holdings would be returned to their rightful owners and that was to be known as the "Year of the Lord's favor". What Jesus is saying through Luke is what Jesus is doing in Mark. He is blowing the trumpet. The long-awaited Jubilee has come! And surprisingly it’s not a date in a calendar but a person, Jesus. Everywhere Jesus went, people were healed, repentance was proclaimed and captives were freed. It’s interesting that before Jesus ever proclaimed Jubilee, he first went to the desert. That seems puzzling: Why the detour? Why not get into action right away? I used to think that Jesus went to the desert for a time of quiet meditation in order to get ready for the ministry ahead, and here comes mean old Satan, to distract him. In Mark chapter 3 Jesus, himself tells us why he went into the desert. He went because he must first "tie up the strong man" (Mark 3:27). No, Jesus didn't go away for a refreshing, vision stirring retreat before his 3 years of ministry. No, he went into the desert to pick a fight! And he fought with 3 weapons: God's word, prayer and fasting. That is what is needed to tie up the strong man, what is needed to fight for those under the dominion of Satan. Altogether, it seems like Jesus is saying that there can’t be jubilee for people who desperately need it unless their oppressor is first tied up. As you pray and fast, remember that Jesus has already tied up the adversary, Satan. Take this season of fasting to fight for those around you in prayer with great confidence. Then, come back from the desert with Jesus ready to proclaim Jubilee to all. Jubilee, the enemy is defeated!
Day 11 - A Consuming Fire
BBQ! You might be thinking, why would someone even mention BBQ during a season of fasting? It seems counterintuitive. But in the last two verses of Hebrews 12, Paul teaches us that the Kingdom we seek through our time of prayer and fasting (The Kingdom of God), is “unshakable” and that our God is a “consuming fire." When we pray, fast and worship, with thanksgiving and reverence, we draw closer to the consuming fire that He is. It’s not just a little flame, it’s all consuming. His presence and glory take over. And, it’s amid that Holy, consuming fire that God does His refining work in your life. Pray, fast, worship and draw close to the fire!
Day 12 - Living Water
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35) Praise God for sending Jesus. Praise Jesus for being the Bread of Life, for giving up His body, dying in our place and for our sins on the cross, and for satisfying the hunger of our hearts. Praise the Spirit for giving us faith to believe Jesus, that we may eat of His flesh and not die, but live forever! On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37-38) Praise God for sending Jesus. Praise Jesus for being the Living Water, for coming to us that we may drink of His life, and for quenching the thirst of our hearts. Praise the Spirit for giving us faith to believe Jesus, that our hearts are no longer dry and empty, but that out of our hearts now flow rivers of living water!
Day 13 - You are chosen
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1 Peter 2:9-10 ) Think for a moment about all that God has done. This scripture tells us He has chosen us and made us His own people. He has called us out of darkness and into the light. At one time we were lost, alone, and in need of a God's great mercy. But praise be to God who has rescued us from sin, death, and saved us through his son Jesus. Proclaim his excellencies today and thank God for how great, how marvelous, how wonderful he is!