Week of Fasting and Prayer: Day 1

Psalm 51, Leviticus 22:31-33, Hebrews 9:13-14:
Deciding to enter into this kind of focused week of seeking God is perhaps the biggest hurdle any of us have to overcome. Once we have made the decision to participate, the decision of how to participate is a second challenge. I’m hoping that if you are reading this, it means you’ve gotten past those first two barriers. It’s my experience that the first day then is actually pretty easy; even exciting.

There is something energizing and hopeful about deciding to make your relationship with Jesus the priority for a time. Something in every one of us always wants to put Jesus first, but the distractions which clamor for our attention work against us; the responsibilities which we legitimately have pull on us; the competing desires of the flesh and expectations of others apply pressure. So, Jesus often gets back-burnered. The health of our own souls and deepest true needs get subordinated to our more immediate felt needs.

We need something drastic to get out of the cycle. That’s what this week is. It’s a decision to give our souls a fighting chance; to stop treating God as a game of patty-cake that we play when we’re in a particular mood; to stop fixating on best of what the world offers us and start recognizing what the world is stealing from us. So, we’re motivated today. We’ve taken the first step. We’re ready. But where do we start? We don’t want to just skip eating or viewing for the sake of making ourselves miserable for the glory of God. Nor do we want to empty ourselves and our minds. We want to unclog the places of our hearts and lives which have obstructed the  the life of Jesus that is already located in us, from spreading abroad within us.

So, this first day is a day of taking stock and doing some inventory. It’s a day of deciding to face ourselves and bring ourselves - our real selves - directly to God. There are three passages of Scripture listed above which will be helpful to you. I encourage you to stop here and read them, and then come back to this.

Psalm 51 - We don’t start with asking God to bless us. We start by asking God for mercy. That’s what we really need. Every single one of us is utterly dependent on the mercy of God if we have any hope or future. So this psalm is a confession of my own moral guilt and failure and a plea for mercy, forgiveness, cleansing, deliverance, joy, renewed fellowship, and a fresh start. Who doesn’t need that today? Who among us won’t need that again tomorrow? So let’s allow the Psalmist to mentor us. Let’s follow suit. Let’s confess. Let’s invite the Holy Spirit to search and know us and reveal us to ourselves. That may sound terrifying.

It’s worth noting too that this Psalm assumes the goodness and kindness and responsiveness of God to such a plea. We don’t need to be terrified about getting honest with God or about God getting honest with us. He’s holy but He’s also gentle. He’s uncompromising in his standards but he’s also uncompromising in his grace to the repentant. So, we can let our guard down. We can lay down our excuses and defenses. God loves to wash us clean and lead us into newness of life. He loves to help us start fresh and create a new experience of his power to live a new life.

So, the only thing any of us has to fear today would be staying stuck right where are; or sinking further into isolation; or refusing to come to the Lord honestly. The real threat to us today is not getting honest with Jesus. The real threat is persisting in our pretense and the charade of our own put-togetherness and okay-ness. God doesn’t delight in our sin, but he absolutely delights in our realness and repentance regarding our sin. That’s our way into feasting on God this week.

These other passages in Leviticus and Hebrews are reassuring us from very different places in Scripture, of what Psalm 51 draws out in more detail. That God loves to receive repentant sinners with open arms and he does so on the basis of the finished work of His own Son. And not only are we cleansed by the blood of Jesus shed for us, but we are enlivened and quickened by the very life of Jesus expressed in us. That’s our way forward. Union with Christ through repentant faith continually fueling a life of service to God for His glory.  

1 Comment

Zac Gilcrease - January 17th, 2022 at 12:15pm






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