2017 Highlight Video

Happy 2018, friends! It’s been quite the busy holiday season… and when I got home from California and Kansas City, I was immediately hit with preparations for The Prayer Room’s School of Supernatural Ministry! Now that it has officially launched on January 20, I can catch my breath and catch up on some blog posts.

The first thing I want to share with you is my highlight video from 2017! When I went home for Christmas, I hosted an open house for some of my friends and partners, and I shared with them this video. I’m delighted to be able to finally share it with you!

Advertisements

Incarnation: The Humility of Jesus

WARNING:
This post will be long, but if you take the time to read through it and let it soak into you, I believe it will be worth it.

When we celebrate the Christmas story, there is a reality deeper than the quaint images of sheep in a stable and swaddling clothes in a manger. It’s the reality of the incarnation – that God, the Creator, the infinitely eternal Dreamer of Genesis 1, freely chose to become one of His creation. The Creator created Himself into a fragile body of flesh, and in doing so He proved Himself worthy of the highest exaltation.

To catch the wonder of this, we have to back up…. waaaay up.

HIGH

.     “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?…
.        when the morning stars sang together
.         and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
.     Or who shut in the sea with doors
.         when it burst out from the womb,
.     when I made clouds its garment
.         and thick darkness its swaddling band,
.     and prescribed limits for it
.         and set bars and doors,
.     and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
.         and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
.     Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
.         and caused the dawn to know its place…?
.     Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
.        or walked in the recesses of the deep?
.     Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
.         or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?”
.                    Job 38:4-17

In Job 38, God puts Job’s life in perspective by giving him a glimpse of what it’s like to be GOD, the eternal, sovereign Creator. He remembers the day when He created the universe out of nothing. He controls all the forces of nature like a puppet master. He is sovereign over it all.

Low

Psalm 113 shows the first step in the humility of God:

.     “The LORD is high above all nations;
.         His glory is above the heavens.
.     Who is like the LORD our God,
.         Who is enthroned on high,
.     Who humbles Himself to behold
.         The things that are in heaven and in the earth?”
.                    Psalm 113:4-6 NASB

God has to humble Himself to even LOOK at the things He has created! The universe itself is so far beneath Him that it’s as if He has to bend over and squint to even see it.

But He does.

He bends down to look

.     at the universe…

.          at the Milky Way…

.               at our solar system…

.                    at Earth…

.                         at each nation…

.                              at each individual human heart.

The fact that He would even acknowledge your existence, the speck within a speck within a speck within a speck, is huge. It takes fathomless humility to even know your name.

Take three minutes and watch this video.

 

lower

Then came the incarnation. The Word made flesh. God not only looks at and interacts with Earth from His distant throne… He chose to step off His throne above the edge of the universe and become one of us.

Breakable, squishy, ugly-bags-of-mostly-water, time-locked, skin-locked, needy, temporary, finite little humanity.

In my opinion, no passage in Scripture captures this descent as well as Philippians 2:5-11.

“…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:5-8

It begins with Jesus in the form of God. In Greek, this word for “form” doesn’t mean appearance or shape. It means His very essence, His very nature. At His core, to His DNA, Jesus WAS God. He had equality with God; not that He was equivalent to God, but He was equal to God. From the beginning, Jesus = God.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
John 1:1-3

Yet, He didn’t choose to grasp tightly onto His status as God. He willingly let go of His position and rights as God. In the NIV, “something to be grasped” is translated “something to be used to his own advantage”. He had every right to simply rest on His own divinity, but He chose to forsake His own rights and empty Himself.

So He was born in the likeness of men… in human form. He who was in the form of God took on human form. God-nature took on human-nature. Deity became humanity. The infinite became finite.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”
John 1:14

This is a staggering descent. It’s literally immeasurable. If you or I became an ant, it would be a huge downgrade, but it would be theoretically possible to measure the differences between a human and an ant. God is so completely Other that it is impossible to measure just how different He is. For God to become human is an infinite descent.

In being born, Jesus had to first be in the womb of Mary for 9 months. GOD was once the size of a grapefruit… and an apple… and a paperclip… and microscopic. When the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, the Son of God was conceived as a single cell.

God was once a single-celled organism. Fully God, fully human… microscopic in the womb of a young woman.

lower

Of course, the most powerful men on Earth started as only one cell. Jesus went lower even than that.

He took the form of a servant.

“…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…”
Matthew 20:28

He could have come as a great human king, and even that would have been infinitely beneath Him! Instead, He chose to be born in the most humble of ways– to a poor couple from a disreputable town, largely uncelebrated in a stable, then worked as an unassuming carpenter until He was released into ministry… when He set the example by washing His disciples’ feet.

.     “For he grew up before him like a young plant,
.         and like a root out of dry ground;
.     he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
.         and no beauty that we should desire him.
.                   Isaiah 53:2

But then…

lowest.

He came lower still.

He became obedient to the point of death.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Luke 22:42

The Author of life… died. More than that, He didn’t peacefully pass away quietly, but He was executed in the most gruesome form of torture ever devised.

The Author of life, clothed in light, who from the dawn of creation has had ceaseless adoration rising around His throne…

…died on a tree, naked, with blood and spit dripping down His body, with angry insults and blasphemies clamouring around Him.

.     He was despised and rejected by men,
.         a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
.     and as one from whom men hide their faces
.         he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
.     Surely he has borne our griefs
.         and carried our sorrows;
.     yet we esteemed him stricken,
.         smitten by God, and afflicted.
.                   Isaiah 53:3-4

Despised and rejected.

Despised by the ones He knew and loved so deeply.

Rejected by the very ones He came so infinitely low to rescue.

This is the crux of the incarnation. This is Jesus, the King of Glory, at His lowest.

The ultimate, deepest humility.

BUT.

H I G H E S T

Philippians 2 turns a sharp 180° on one word–

“THEREFORE.”

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:9-11

As quickly as Jesus came so low, He shoots up again to be “highly exalted”. There’s something unique about this exaltation, though. It’s not just the glory He had with the Father before the incarnation; this is exaltation as a human. This is the promise of His future exaltation as the Son of David, the prophesied Davidic King of the earth. One Day (capitalisation intended) He will be publicly and fully recognised as the sovereign authority of the planet, when He returns and establishes His Kingdom from Jerusalem.

Don’t miss this– the Davidic King has to be actually human. Jesus didn’t just temporarily put on a human costume and shed it when He ascended. He became permanently, irrevocably human forever. In heaven now, He has a glorified human body, similar to the glorified human bodies believers will have one day. When He sits on the throne in Jerusalem forever, He will do so as a human King: a literal, physical descendent of David.

What stunning humility.

To me, the most fascinating part of this Philippians 2 passage is in the THEREFORE. He is exalted because He was obedient to the point of death. His extravagant humility which led Him all the way to the cross is directly why He is worthy to rule as King.

This THEREFORE is all over Scripture.

.     “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
.         and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
.     because he poured out his soul to death
.         and was numbered with the transgressors…”
.                   Isaiah 53:12

.     “Worthy are you to take the scroll
.         and to open its seals,
.     for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God…”
.                   Revelation 5:9

He is worthy to open the scroll, release the plans of God, and rule the earth because He was slain.

Because of His great humility, He has proven His worthiness.

This is a King we can fully trust– the one who came so low for us. He has proven His love.

This is how we can trust that He won’t be a cruel or selfish or distant dictator. He has withstood every test and temptation. He has proven His love, humility, and commitment to us by His birth, life, and death. And God has vindicated and affirmed Him by His resurrection.

When we look at the baby in a manger, we can see the God who came so, so low to demonstrate His love by taking on flesh and dying on a tree, and the coming King who proved His trustworthiness to rule.

To me, that is breathtakingly beautiful.

God, You became a man
You took on flesh
You’re so beautiful

“One Found Worthy” by Justin Rizzo

Update: I’ve Joined Senior Staff at The Prayer Room!

Commissioning into senior staff on December 2 – video below

Here’s kind of a cool life update for you. A few weeks ago, I accepted an invitation to join senior staff at The Prayer Room!

Senior staff is the leadership team of The Prayer Room, made up of three men and three women (including me). We meet every Tuesday and address all the issues of building the house of prayer. It’s a close-knit team that shares the weight of leadership in many ways. When big decisions must be made, it’s the senior staff who pray and discuss until we come to a consensus.

Each of the senior staff is over a different division within the ministry. I will be keeping my existing role as head of the Forerunner Equipping Center, which is all of our internships and training programs. It makes SO much sense for the head of FEC to be part of senior staff, since FEC is such a big part of our vision.

Starfleet vessels have a senior staff… sometimes, commanding officers even dress up as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle characters.

When I was invited to a senior staff meeting a few weeks ago and given this invitation, it was a big shock to me. The team was very encouraging and called out many leadership-worthy qualities in me, even as they warned me of the weight and difficulty of being on senior staff, spiritually even more than administratively. They each could tell stories of the spiritual attack that has been connected to their role on senior staff.

I took a week to pray about it, and God was faithful and gracious to give me a confirming peace about the decision. For me, it was a decision based on faith and obedience. I realised that every reason to say no was fear-based – fear of the pressure, fear of attack, fear of my own inadequacy. Eventually, I agreed with the team that this was something God was calling me into, and I signed Him a blank check to my life a long time ago.

One of the things that helped encourage me in this process was the song Looking for One by Jake Hamilton (click for youtube). This has been one of my favourites of his for a number of years, but the chorus came back to me while I was leading worship, and I was able to find chords on my phone and play it right then and there.

Looking for One by Jake Hamilton

You’re looking for one
Who can hear Your heart beat
Who can feel when You lead
And the time and the season
You’re looking for one
Who will stand in the gap
Who will never look back
Finds Your heart in their freedom
You’re looking for one

You choose the broken
You choose the weak
You favor the humble
You raise up the meek
Blessed are those
Who are found poor in spirit
For there is the kingdom
It’s so hard to hear it
You don’t shy away
From the foolish and fumbling
You’re able to raise up
The tired and stumbling
And just when we think
That our work is all done
I hear Your heart

You’re looking for one

He’s not asking me to be superbly awesome. He’s just asking me to say yes when He leads and not look back. He chooses the weak, He favours the humble, and He isn’t afraid to use me even when I’m foolish and fumbling.

On Saturday, December 2, I was formally commissioned into senior staff at The Prayer Room. Brad Stroup, our director, said some encouraging things, solemnly charged me with 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (the biblical qualifications for eldership), and prayed for me.

The video is below, and I made sure it has accurate captions which you can turn on if you want/need them.

FAQ Page Updates!

If you’ve ever taken the time to explore my blog, you’ve seen the FAQ link at the top of this page. I’ve spent the past few days overhauling it with fresh info, helpful images, and more streamlined organisation – plus I’ve added an entirely new page all about the house of prayer in general.

There are now individual FAQ pages for

  • the House of Prayer (and the prayer movement in general)
  • The Prayer Room (where I’m currently on staff)
  • and IHOPKC (including the One Thing Internship and IHOPU, where I did four years of training).

If you have questions like:

  • What is a house of prayer?
  • How many houses of prayer are there?
  • What happens in the prayer room?
  • Does TPR do other kinds of ministry outside of the prayer room itself?
  • What do you do at TPR?
  • Do you know Mike Bickle or Misty Edwards?
  • What did you study at IHOPU?

go to the FAQ page and get answers!

 

If you have any other questions, please leave them as a comment on the relevant page.

TPR Staff Retreat 2017!

The annual The Prayer Room staff retreat is our highlight of the year. We rent a huge house on a beautiful property about an hour away in Rainbow, TX, and we spend the weekend playing games, vision casting/discussing, and generally enjoying each other’s company. One of the beautiful strengths of TPR is the close-knit family feel of the community, and the annual staff retreat is a big part of fostering that. This was my third staff retreat in a row! (Check out 2015 and 2016.)

During our living room sessions, we discussed taking ourselves seriously as a house of prayer before the Lord and how rare and precious it is that He has given us the grace to sustain daily prayer for 12 years! As of last month, we passed 45,000 hours total of live prayer since our inception in 2005! That’s a culmination of five years of incense arising from our prayer room!

One discussion that really provoked and excited me was our Saturday night talk about what we could each do to make The Prayer Room better 1% at a time. We dreamed together and then made action plans to establish those plans. “What can we do to get the cords behind the sound booth more out of the way?” “I know a way to do that. Done.” “What else could we do to recruit worship leaders?” “We could make small flyers to put on our welcome desk directing people to our website.” “I can design and print some up. Done.” We talked about stepping it up, individually and as a staff, to be more proactive about our responsibilities and “raise the water level” of prayer and worship engagement in our prayer room. At the end of the day, all the clever admin solutions we come up with are about strengthening the atmosphere of prayer and worship that happens 18 hours a day in our prayer room.

I love this staff so much and am so grateful that I get to build the house of prayer with such a family!

Livermore Update

On October 31, we finally finished selling the house on Livermore Dr. that has served as our dorm for the past several years! Originally, this house was purchased to be the prayer room when the meetings outgrew Brad’s living room. When we moved into a storefront space on Pioneer Pkwy., Livermore became remodeled as a guys’ side/girls’ side dorm building. This is where I lived in 2015 on my externship. The house has some significant structural issues and we were losing money on it for months, and we’re so glad to turn the keys over to someone who can turn it into something useful to them so we can move on to a better dorm situation.

Now, we’re looking for one or more duplexes (or even a fourplex, if we can find one) where we can house externs, interns, staff, and guest speakers as needed. I was asked to move in as house manager, and after weeks of prayer and consideration, I said yes. It will be much cheaper rent and it will be an opportunity to live with and serve other staff (my current roommates both left staff to go back to school earlier this year). I’m praying that the dorm would be a consecrated place where we can provoke each other in love and pursue Jesus together. It’s going to be an exciting transition!

What I’m Reading: Jesus: The Seven Wonders of HIStory

It’s been a few weeks, but I’m super excited to share another installment of What I’m Reading with you. The past couple weeks, I’ve been reading a book called Jesus: The Seven Wonders of HIStory by David Pawson. I kind of found it by accident – I was doing research for a story on Mary of Bethany that I started five years ago and have recently decided to try my hand at again, and I came across an old note I had written to myself that said “look up what David Pawson says about Jesus being crucified on Wednesday.” Most likely, one of my IHOPU teachers had referenced this theory and attributed it to Pawson (who I had already heard of and read books by for other classes), and some 3-5 years later I was finally making good on my intention to research it more. In my googling, I quickly found this book and read several passages from it in the Amazon preview, but I liked it so much I quickly decided to drop the $7.99 to get it in Kindle and start reading it immediately. Not only did it provide several very helpful historical tidbits for my writing, but it was so refreshing to my heart to just read again about the meaning of the gospel.

David Pawson’s style reminds me of a combination of C. S. Lewis and John Piper (even if there are a few aspects of theology on which he would probably differ with both of those esteemed gentlemen). This particular book came about in a very interesting way – it was actually first taught as a ten-part series in a special seminar at IHOPKC (the totality of which was 15 sessions) in May 2011! The videos are still available online at IHOPKC.org, DavidPawson.org, and YouTube. I haven’t watched them yet, but I’d very much like to. (Maybe I’ll save the mp3s for my next road trip.) It was a special treat to realise that this book was developed from the transcript of a series taught to my own school and community in a room I’ve worshipped in hundreds of times. I even found my friend Erica’s name in the introduction being honoured as the lead transcriptionist!

All that aside, I was enormously blessed by reading this book. Pawson addresses seven theological realities of Jesus’ story (birth, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, return, judgment), explores them biblically, and captivates his audience with their implications. This book is richly theological but also enticingly conversational.

I’ll share one quote I read today in the chapter on Ascension that wasn’t fully a new thought, but I hadn’t ever heard it phrased quite like this before:

Never forget there is now – there was – a human being in charge of the universe. He had come down, adopted our human nature permanently, and went back to heaven as a man…there is now a man in the godhead. Jesus has taken our human nature into the godhead. God is different—he was not like this before but now in the godhead itself there is one person who is a human being like us and he will remain that human being forever. When he comes back you will see a human being; that is the Son of God, the eternal Son of God.

I love that Jesus is so, so real… I love that everything the Bible says about Him is true and has real, game-changing implications for my life and my relationship with Him. I’m so grateful for men like David Pawson who have spent decades learning and loving the Word of God and the person of Jesus and are gifted in catching others up with them in wide-eyed awe at who He is.

What I’m Praying: Refreshing

Continuing my What I’m Praying series…

The past few weeks, TPR has been focussed on praying for a time of deep refreshing to come to our community. This has been our rapid fire topic at the end of every set. To be honest, it’s been an exhausting year. Many people feel a bit dry and dull and just soul-weary. We need a good strong “time of refreshing” (Acts 3:20) from the Lord to revive our hearts. Living dry is no fun.

It’s true that most of life is lived in the mundane. Most of the time, we’re neither on the mountaintop nor in the depths of despair; rather, we’re sort of on the plateau of daily walking out life with God, trying to stay obedient and faithful no matter how we’re feeling.

But we don’t want to just be okay with not encountering God.

We’re asking God for a season of refreshing, that as individuals and as a community we would receive an increased touch of the Holy Spirit.

This past week, I believe we’ve started to see glimpses of that. On Saturday night, Brad was called last minute to attend a meeting, so instead of him continuing our teaching series, our weekly Encounter service became a prayer meeting with extended worship for exactly this topic of refreshing. We asked God to move in signs and wonders and to refresh us with an increased manifestation of His presence. The corporate nature of that prayer meeting, with all of us in the room joined with fervor and unity, and the worship team’s excellent prophetic leadership, definitely brought refreshing to our hearts. With the leanness of our 18/7 schedule right now, we’re not able to have those experiences together very often.

Also, on Sunday night a prayer group from a local Messianic congregation visited the prayer room. Almost 30 ladies joined us for an hour or so, and God really moved among them. Our worship leader felt a strong prophetic nudge to spontaneously lead a ministry time from the prayer mic (don’t worry, the usher took his seat so the stage wasn’t empty) and give a call for anyone who felt called to missions. The room was deeply touched and many responded. That kind of move of the Spirit is the kind of thing we’re praying to see more of.

Please join us in praying that God would refresh us with a fresh wave of His Spirit!

God, thank You for Your presence here – please increase our experience of Your presence. Open the heavens and send another wave of Your Spirit to refresh, awaken, and revive us. We’re crying out for fresh fire. Meet us in our hunger as You’ve promised.

What I’m Reading: Nazirite DNA

About seven or eight years ago when I was a student at APU, I came across a little booklet someone had left to share in the student prayer chapel. It was Nazirite DNA by Lou Engle, and I read it over and over and copied my favourite quotes into my journal. That little 37-page book stirred a fire in me to be wholly abandoned to God.

A few months ago, I purchased a copy to add to The Prayer Room‘s library, because this message of consecration is sooooo crucial to the prayer movement and the forerunner ministry. I’ve been reading and loving it all over again.

Nazirite DNA, $5 on Kindle

In Numbers 6:1-21, immediately preceding the Aaronic blessing, the invitation was given for anyone in the community to consecrate themselves to the Lord as a Nazirite.

In the Old Testament, only men from the tribe of Levi could be priests. The whole nation was called to be a kingdom of priests, but only the Levites were given the special privilege of living out lives completely absorbed in the vocation of jealously guarding the purity and administration of the worship of God. However, in the Nazirite vow, God opened the door to anyone, male or female, from any tribe, who longed to be as radical in devotion and near to God as the priests were. The only qualification was to have a heart that intensely desired it…Nazirites spontaneously, joyfully, and willingly apropriated the priestly separation and and condition of life because of an inward working of the Spirit’s grace.
–Nazirite DNA, page 10

Nazirites took three key vows:

  1. Abstain from wine and all grape-derived foods
  2. Abstain from cutting their hair
  3. Abstain from going near a dead body, even that of a family member

Lou Engle interprets these three vows in a modern context as being about 1) choosing to fast from certain permissible pleasures in pursuit of God as the greatest pleasure, 2) be willing to be radically and noticeably set apart from the culture, and 3) avoiding the defilement of anything that would lead to spiritual death.

God always responds to those who earnestly seek Him. Abandoned devotion to Him that chooses JESUS over everything else pulls on the strings of His heart and draws His presence close in a unique way. He moves dramatically in response to the cries of His people, and He’s shown us that a fasted lifestyle is a way to strengthen those cries.

In my own life, I know I so easily get sucked into the vortex of “lesser pleasures”–I love my Netflix and Nutella a little too much most days, and those things tend to dampen my hunger for God by making me believe I have all I need in the pleasures of this world. When I set myself apart from these things and focus all of my energy on seeking God, my hunger for Jesus comes roaring back to the surface.

It’s like I want to eat healthy but fill up on ice cream and potato chips every day. By the end of the day, I don’t really have an appetite for grilled chicken and veggies, even though I know they’re so much more satisfying. I have to actually make radical changes in my diet to enjoy my healthy food to the fullest and reap the benefit of it.

God changes history through people with a Nazirite-like consecration. He is looking for those who would be willing to be wholly set apart for Him–people to whom He can entrust the burdens of His heart and who will be in it for the long haul with Him until His dreams are fulfilled.

God, raise up a generation hungry for You above all else, who will forsake lesser pleasures in order to throw themselves into pursuit of You and partnership with Your dreams.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone desiring more of God, or desiring to desire more of God. If you’re local to The Prayer Room, you can stop by and borrow our copy to read in the prayer room. Otherwise, you can get it for $5 on Kindle (and no, you don’t have to have an actual Kindle to read it – there’s a smartphone app as well as a way to read ebooks online or on your computer) or you can order a physical copy for $5 from The Call. At one point there was an audiobook read by Lou Engle, but I can’t find it anymore (and no, the mp3 on TheCall.com is a sermon, not an audiobook) so if anyone finds it or has it, let me know!

School of Supernatural Ministry Coming Soon!!

Finally!!!

I serve as the admin of The Prayer Room’s Forerunner Equipping Center, which in theory includes all of our schools and training programs. So far, my admin role has been confined to our Immerse internship, because that has been the only program we’ve had the strength to offer. It’s been 5 years since The Prayer Room has been able to offer anything more (last year’s weekly School of the Prophetic notwithstanding).

Over the past few weeks, our director Brad has been bursting with ideas for a new School of Supernatural Ministry (SSM). It’s been a desire of ours for years to be able to offer a program that would give in-depth training on topics such as prophecy, healing, and deliverance. We finally feel the permission and anointing of the Lord to make plans for a January 20 of our SSM. At the same time, we plan to put launching another Immerse on hold until summer or fall while we take a close look at revamping that curriculum into a slightly different direction.

SSM will run January 20 through May 12 and emphasise five components:

  • Theology (biblical teaching)
  • Equipping (instructions on how)
  • Activation (practice what you learn)
  • Ministry (ministering to people)
  • Prayer (living a lifestyle of prayer)

The schedule will be similar to our current Immerse internship schedule, but will involve some unique components:

Saturday

  • 3pm-4pm — Classroom training
  • 4pm-5pm — Application exercise in the classroom
  • 7pm-9:30pm — Encounter service

Tuesday

  • 6pm-7pm — Ministry time (ministering to people outside the school)
  • 7pm-9pm — Prayer room time together (with prayer/study assignments)

Also, students will usher an additional prayer meeting and choose another additional prayer meeting in which they have no responsibility.

We’re all SO EXCITED and I’ve already had some potential students express interest. This is going to be an amazing way to equip our community in ministering with the Holy Spirit, and will hopefully bring many more into our community!

Check out our SSM on our website HERE!

What I’m Praying: Global Bridegroom Fast

I’ve never blogged on fasting before, because I’ve wanted to be careful about the way I’m honoring Matthew 5:16-18. But this is important, and it is something that’s currently happening in our community, so if it can be an encouragement to anyone, here you go.

When I was at IHOPKC, I was introduced to something called the Global Bridegroom Fast. The Global Bridegroom Fast is a monthly three-day fast, the first Monday through Wednesday of every month, that the house of prayer sets aside as a community to pursue Jesus through fasting. I remember there being a real sense of unity and spiritual hunger as we intentionally refocussed on what this is all about.

We call it a “bridegroom” fast because of what Jesus told the disciples of John the Baptist when they asked why He and his disciples weren’t fasting:

And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15)

Jesus tied fasting to longing for His presence and for His return. In this type of fast, we’re primarily asking God to renew and stir up love for Jesus in our hearts and to refocus our hearts on longing for His return, what Titus 2:13 calls our “blessed hope”.

At The Prayer Room, we also value a lifestyle of fasting, since it was one of the primary aspects of godly life that Jesus identified in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:16-18) as well as being a key component of seeking God’s mercy on a people (eg Joel 2:12). For years, we’ve devoted ourselves to weekly fasting, and many of us made Thursday our staff fasting day. Recently, however, we’ve felt God leading us to switch it up and join in with IHOPKC, and in fact hundreds of other houses of prayer and communities around the world, in the monthly Global Bridegroom Fast. So from now on, rather that encouraging our community to participate in a weekly fasting day, we’re encouraging everyone to join in this monthly Global Bridegroom Fast!

Personally, I hate fasting. I can preach a good sermon on why it’s important, and I really do believe it, but in my flesh I can make a thousand excuses to deny myself as little as possible. (“Maybe I just won’t eat meat…between the hours of 12pm and 4pm…”) Having the whole community going hard together, and knowing that it’s only once a month, has so far been very helpful to me. And even though my flesh hates it, every single time I fast, God gives me grace to go without food longer than my metabolism could ordinarily bear.

I find that the hunger pains of fasting serve as a constant reminder to refocus on God. Every time I feel a pinch and fantasize about a big sandwich or plate of pasta, it’s an opportunity to say NO to my flesh and YES to God. It doesn’t earn anything from God, but it positions me to encounter Him because I am forcing myself to be serious about reaching for Him. It trains my flesh in the art of self-denial, which is a necessary discipline in every aspect of Christian life. And somehow, in the economy of the Kingdom, God really does respond to fasting. I can’t fully explain how or why, but He does.

For myself, I have a few rules about fasting:

  1. I must set the parameters of the fast at least the day before. If I try to decide when I wake up how I’m going to fast, my flesh will be way louder than my spirit.
  2. I’m not allowed to alter the parameters in the middle of a fast unless I’m actually close to passing out or throwing up and I feel God giving me permission. Even then, a small snack is enough.
  3. The other exception is if fasting would disrupt an important social event, like the time my mom wanted to celebrate a family birthday on my fasting day and saying no would have been hurtful. Also, when I used to choose my weekly fasting day, I would make sure to schedule it on a day I didn’t expect eating to be a social event (ie, weekly small group).
  4. I do try not to make a big deal of it and carry on my life as usual, but especially since we’re in a community where fasting is normal, talking about it isn’t exactly taboo.
  5. Most importantly, I have to actually spend focussed time in prayer that day.

It’s important to remember that fasting is NOT meant to be a vehicle for condemnation and guilt. Fasting is spiritual violence, and it’s hard, and we all fail from time to time. BUT we find that we’re able to stay steadier the more months and years we make this a lifestyle! When we fail, we immediately sign back up and keep going. Just like one sexual mistake isn’t permission to consider your purity ruined and dive headfirst into more sexual sin, eating during a fast doesn’t mean that you’re a horrible person and trying to fast is a waste. Just sign back up and keep going!

Also, it’s helpful to know that although a lifestyle of fasting WILL lead you into more encounter with God than never fasting, there is no timeline or measuring stick for what that looks like. Many people don’t experience anything extraordinary during a fast, but they will right after. Often it’s hard to discern any fruit even after months. My advice is not to evaluate the fruit of fasting for at least a year. Some people say five or ten years. Make it a lifestyle, and eventually, in small ways or big ways, God WILL respond in greater measure than He would have otherwise.

Fasting gets our flesh involved in our spiritual longing for God. It positions us to receive more from Him by clearing out some of the cobwebs in our hearts. By becoming more in tune with our longing for God, we catch a glimpse into His longing for us! Jesus has been waiting 2000 years, or really since the Garden, to come be fully, finally united with us. It’s His great consuming desire. If He carries that ache, then I want to carry it too, and fasting helps me do that.

I invite you to join us in this monthly Global Bridegroom Fast! If you think this sounds like a good idea, set a reminder on your phone right now. You could instead (or also!) choose a weekly personal fasting day. (IHOPKC staff fasts on Tuesdays in addition to the monthly three-day fast.)

As you embark on the adventure of fasting, know that even though your flesh will hate you for it, Jesus is so delighted! He is smiling on us as we choose to seek Him. And He doesn’t stop smiling when we mess up… He LOVES when we keep stumbling toward Him, though we fall a thousand times. So let’s keep stumbling forward in confidence in His love, believing that He is the prize worth any cost.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries