Prayer & Fasting Guide 9â€“29 January 2017
Dear Friends, Welcome to our first prayer and fasting of 2017! God is with us! It is with boldness and assured certainty that we make this bold declaration as New Creationers as 2017 begins. Not only do we set our faces like flint towards God showing our total and absolute dependence on him, but we also bring our will and inner man to be subject to and attuned to the Spirit God. For God is Spirit and His worshipers must do so in Spirit and in Truth. This is such a crucial time to be in Zimbabwe in terms of advancing the kingdom of God because our nation is in desperate need of the gospel and there is a hunger and a thirst for God to break through and guess what? GOD IS EAGER TO HEAL OUR LAND and bring comfort to His people and that happens through us partnering with Him and being led by Him. Just a bit of information as we head into the fasting time.. • •
We are aiming for a 6am to 6pm fast together but it is not a hard and fast rule (no pun intended!!!) so please go for whatever fast stretches and challenges you the most. Take advantage of moments throughout the day such as tea-time or lunch-time to lock yourself in your office or get away and pray. You could also meet up with a few friends and pray together, which I sometimes find helpful. During the duration of the fast we would like to gather on Sundays before the service starts at 830am - 915am to pray together. We would like to seek God together each opportunity we have and this is vital as expect prophetic direction and a sense of what God would say to us at this juncture in the life of the church and country. In small group meetings we would also encourage you to set aside whatever time you can to praying together during the fast. On Friday the 27th of January we will gather together for our normal month-end prayer at a venue to be disclosed nearer to the date and then on Sunday the 29th of January we will break the fast together after the service.
As you pray, please remember One Tribe Church in Nairobi, Kenya, led by our dear friends Mbonisi and Tashinga Malaba. They are starting their 21 day Daniel fast at the same time as us and they have specifically asked that we partner with them in prayer for Kenya and their church and eagerly desire whatever prophetic direction or encouragement God may have placed on your hearts to share with them. So please let us pray for them and you can whatsapp, email or call Chipo at the church office with whatever you may have to encourage them with or directly contact the Malabas. We look forward to shaking the heavenlies as we together press into God and seek Him to come down in power and might! Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Hannington and Chipo For the Elders
WHAT IS FASTING? Fasting is defined as denying oneself something that is common, normal, and necessary. It is abstaining from food or other things with a spiritual goal in mind. We empty ourselves in order to fill it with God’s presence and experience greater communion with Him. Throughout the Bible and in the early church we see prayer and fasting was a common practice. Scripture gives us examples of both corporate and individual fasting. Moses, David, Daniel and Jesus, all practiced individual prayer and fasting. We see corporate prayer and fasting at various times throughout the Old Testament by the Israelites, such as in 1 Samuel 7 and Nehemiah 9. We also see the early church practice prayer and fasting in the New Testament in Acts 13. Jesus spoke of prayer and fasting as an expected discipline of the Christian faith in Matthew 6. WHY DO WE PRAY AND FAST? The primary reason we pray and fast is to draw near to God. Fasting tenderizes and sensitizes our hearts, driving us to focus solely on God and in return to hear what God is saying and pray the prayers that He is praying. He is a God that loves to answer prayer and He loves when we set aside time, push away distractions, and willingly posture ourselves to be before Him. We do not pray and fast to manipulate or earn God’s favour. Instead, prayer and fasting is an act of humility, an admission of desperate dependence on God (Ezra 8:21). In addition to drawing near to God, we can pray and fast for a variety of secondary reasons – to bring about both personal and corporate revival, for emotional and physical healing, for protection against the enemy, and for a greater release of God’s power and presence here on earth. PRE-FAST PREPARATION • Pray. Ask God for the grace and strength to successfully fast and pray. • Examine your heart and motives before God. • Avoid high carbohydrate foods and sugar in your final meals the night before your day of fast. This will help ease your initial hunger or discomfort early in the day of your fast. • Plan your day ahead of time. Do your best to minimize any appointments, strenuous activities or undue stress on the day of your fast. • Be prepared to mentally fight temptations to eat and hunger pangs throughout the day • Get a good night’s rest. DURING YOUR DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING • Arrange time throughout the day to be in prayer. The best time to do this is usually during your regular meal times. Fasting is not just denying yourself food. It is exchanging the needs of the physical body for those of the spiritual. Instead of eating, spend time in prayer. • If you must be around people during meal times, politely say “I have other plans for lunch today.” • Whenever you face discouragement or temptation to eat, go immediately to God in prayer. Ask God to give you the strength and perseverance to press through difficulty. • Drink plenty of water. It’s best to avoid caffeine, sodas, and milk. DURING YOUR PRAYER TIMES • Find a quiet place, away from distractions. Turn off your phone while you are in prayer. • Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your prayer time. • Follow the Prayer Guide!!
Day 1 – Reading: Hebrews 10:22 God’s Will Is That You Draw Near “Let us draw near with a true heart.” The command we are given in this passage is to draw near to God. The great aim of this writer is that we get near God, that we have fellowship with him, that we not settle for a Christian life at a distance from God. This drawing near is not a physical act. It’s not building a tower of Babel by your achievements to get to heaven. It’s not necessarily going to a church building. Or walking to an altar at the front. It is an invisible act of the heart. You can do it while standing absolutely still, or while lying in a hospital bed, or on the train as you commute to work. This is the centre of the gospel — this is what the Garden of Gethsemane and Good Friday are all about — that God has done astonishing and costly things to draw us near. He has sent his Son to suffer and to die so that through him we might draw near. It’s all so that we might draw near. And all of this is for our joy and for his glory. He does not need us. If we stay away he is not impoverished. He does not need us in order to be happy in the fellowship of the Trinity. But he magnifies his mercy by giving us free access through his Son, in spite of our sin, to the one Reality that can satisfy us completely and forever, namely, himself. “In thy presence is fullness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures forever more” (Psalm 16:11). That is God’s will for you, even as you read this — that you will draw near to God.
From “Let Us Draw Near to God – John Piper”
Day 2 – Reading: Matthew 6:9 Prayer’s First Priority Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches that the first priority in praying is to ask that our heavenly Father’s name be hallowed. Notice that this is a petition or a request. It is not a declaration (as I thought it was for years). It is a request to God that he would see to it that his own name be hallowed. It is like another text, Matthew 9:38, where Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send out labourers into his own harvest. It never ceases to amaze me that we, the labourers, should be instructed to ask the owner of the farm, who knows the harvest better than we do, to add on more farm hands. But isn’t this the same thing we have here in the Lord’s Prayer — Jesus telling us to ask God, who is infinitely jealous for the honour of his own name, to see to it that his name be hallowed? Well it may amaze us, but there it is. And it teaches us two things. One is that prayer does not move God to do things he is disinclined to do. He has every intention to cause his name to be hallowed. Nothing is higher on God’s priority list. The other is that prayer is God’s way of bringing our priorities into line with his. God wills to make great things the consequence of our prayers when our prayers are the consequence of his great purposes. Bring your heart into line with the jealousy of God to hallow his name, and you will pray with great effect. Let your first and all-determining prayer be for the hallowing of God’s name, and your prayers will plug into the power of God’s jealousy.
From “Hallowed Be Thy Name: In All the Earth – John Piper”
Day 3 – Reading: Psalm 37:4 The All-Satisfying Object “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The quest for pleasure is not even optional, but commanded (in the Psalms): “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). The psalmists sought to do just this: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1–2). “My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). The motif of thirsting has its satisfying counterpart when the psalmist says that men “drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights” (Psalm 36:8, NASB). I found that the goodness of God, the very foundation of worship, is not a thing you pay your respects to out of some kind of disinterested reverence. No, it is something to be enjoyed: “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Psalm 34:8). “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). As C. S. Lewis says, God in the Psalms is the “all-satisfying Object.” His people adore him unashamedly for the “exceeding joy” they find in him (Psalm 43:4). He is the source of complete and unending pleasure: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
From “Desiring God – John Piper”, pages 23–27
Day 4 – Reading: John 8:31–32 The Only True Freedom Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” What is true freedom? Are you free? If you don't have the desire to do a thing, you are not fully free to do it. Oh, you may muster the will power to do what you don't want to do, but nobody calls that full freedom. It's not the way we want to live. There is a constraint and pressure on us that we don't want. And if you have the desire to do something, but no ability to do it, you are not free to do it. And if you have the desire and the ability to do something, but no opportunity to do it, you are not free to do it. And if you have the desire to do something, and the ability to do it, and the opportunity to do it, but it destroys you in the end, you are not fully free — not free indeed. To be fully free, we must have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will make us happy forever. No regrets. And only Jesus, the Son of God who died and rose for us, can make that possible. If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed.
From “You Will Know the Truth and the Truth Will Set You Free – John Piper”
Day 5 – Reading: Deuteronomy 12:28 Obedience Brings Blessing “Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.” Though salvation is not by the works of the law, yet the blessings which are promised to obedience are not denied to the faithful servants of God. The curses our Lord took away when He was made a curse for us, but no clause of blessing has been abrogated. We are to note and listen to the revealed will of the Lord, giving our attention not to portions of it but to “all these words.” There must be no picking and choosing but an impartial respect to all that God has commanded. This is the road of blessedness for the Father and for His children. The Lord’s blessing is upon His chosen to the third and fourth generation. If they walk uprightly before Him, He will make all men know that they are a seed which the Lord has blessed. No blessing can come to us or ours through dishonesty or double dealing. The ways of worldly conformity and unholiness cannot bring good to us or ours. It will go well with us when we go well before God. If integrity does not make us prosper, knavery will not. That which gives pleasure to God will bring pleasure to us.
From “Daily Faith Devotional”
Day 6 – Reading: Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Whenever a long distance athlete runs in a race, his clothing has to be as light as possible and that includes his shoes. He does not need anything to hinder or entangle him throughout the race because already the race is tough without any added barriers. As the race gets tough he has to persevere – he has to maintain his focus on the ultimate prize until gets there! Our Christian 'race' is a lot like that! We need to get rid of EVERYTHING, not just some things that hinder us! For some, it's a whole lot of things and for others it’s one or two things such as worry or even jealousy. It is important for us to get rid of these things as they tend to shift our focus off of Jesus. Fasting is such a good time to take stock of our lives and those things that hinder us from fixing our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of your faith. Do not despair though when you find it getting tough in your race persevere through it my friends as there is a joy set before us!
Written by: Rumbi Chineka
Day 7 – Reading: Hebrews 2:1 The Danger of Drifting “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” We all know people that this has happened to. There is no urgency. No vigilance. No focused listening or considering or fixing of their eyes on Jesus. And the result has not been a standing still, but a drifting away. That is the point here: there is no standing still. The life of this world is not a lake. It is a river. And it is flowing downward to destruction. If you do not listen earnestly to Jesus and consider him daily and fix your eyes on him hourly, then you will not stand still, you will go backward. You will float by. Drifting is a deadly thing in the Christian life. And the remedy to it, according to Hebrews 2:1, is, “Pay close attention to what you have heard.” That is, consider what God is saying in his Son Jesus. Fix your eyes on what God is saying and doing in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This is not a hard stroke to learn so that we can swim against the stream of sin and indifference. The only thing that keeps us from swimming like this is our sinful desire to float with other interests. But let us not complain that God has given us a hard job. Listen, consider, fix the eyes — this is not what you would call a hard job description. It is not a job description. It is a solemn invitation to be satisfied in Jesus so that we do not get lured downstream by deceitful desires. If you are drifting today, one of the signs of hope that you are born again is that you feel pricked for this, and there is a rising desire in your heart to turn your eyes on Jesus and consider him and listen to him in the days and months and years to come.
From “The Danger of Drifting from the Word – John Piper”
Day 8 – Reading: Proverbs 4:23 It's A Matter Of The Heart From a young age most of us have been taught to behave the right way, regardless of our thoughts or feelings in that particular situation. So we hide or suppress these feelings in our hearts, and we develop filters to be able to bring out only that which is acceptable whether it is a particular behaviour or thought. Then one day when the filters are down we 'accidentally' say or do something 'that is not like us' and everyone wonders where it come from. Jesus, in Matthew 15:18, says, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” Solomon in Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” If everything flows from our heart, we need to take very seriously Solomon’s advice to guard (keep safe from harm or danger, to protect or watch over) our hearts. And he says we should do this “Above all else” In other words, most importantly, before everything else, first of all, most of all!!!! You guard your heart against guilt by confessing you sins, against jealousy by celebrating out loud the people you are jealous of, against greed by being generous and giving stuff away and bitterness through forgiveness. Deal with any sin that has a hold on your heart. Soak your heart in the truth of the word of God and in his Love for you. What is the state of your heart? Is everything Ok in your heart? Are you protecting it? Find encouragement from Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Today as you fast, ask the Lord to strengthen your heart. Confess any hidden sins that have a hold on your heart, deal with any jealousy, greed, anger or unforgiveness that has a hold on your heart. Only then will our hearts be clean and able to receive God's Love.
Written by: Rumby Ndebele
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Day 9 – Reading: Romans 12:19 Justice Will Be Done Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” All of you have been wronged at one time or another. Most of you, probably, have been wronged seriously by someone who has never apologized or done anything sufficient to make it right. And one of the deep hindrances to your letting that hurt and bitterness go is the conviction — the justified conviction — that justice should be done, that the fabric of the universe will unravel if people can just get away with horrible wrongs and deceive everyone. That is one of the hindrances to forgiveness and letting grudges go. It’s not the only one. We have our own sin to deal with. But it is a real one. We feel that just to let it go would be to admit that justice simply won’t be done. And we can’t do it. So we hold on to anger, and play the story over and over again with the feelings: It shouldn’t have happened; it shouldn’t have happened; it was wrong; it was wrong. How can he be so happy now when I am so miserable? It is so wrong. It is so wrong! This word in Romans 12:19 is given to you by God to lift that burden from you. “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God.” What does this mean for you? Laying down the burden of anger, laying down the practice of nursing your hurt with feelings of being wronged — laying that down — does not mean there was no great wrong against you. It does not mean there is no justice. It does not mean you will not be vindicated. It does not mean they just got away with it. No. It means, when you lay down the burden of vengeance, God will pick it up. This is not a subtle way of getting revenge. This is a way of giving vengeance to the one to whom it belongs. It is taking a deep breath, perhaps for the first time in decades, and feeling like now at last you may be free to love.
From “Do Not Avenge Yourselves, But Give Place to Wrath – John Piper”
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Day 10 – Reading: Hebrews 6:13-14 When God Swears by God Since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” There is one Person whose worth and honor and dignity and preciousness and greatness and beauty and reputation is more than all other values combined — ten thousand times more, namely, God himself. So God swears by himself. If he could have gone higher, he would have gone higher. Why? To give you strong encouragement in your hope. What God is saying in swearing by himself is that it is as unlikely that he will break his word of promise to bless us as it is that he will despise himself. God is the greatest value in the universe. There is nothing more valuable or wonderful than God. So God swears by God. And in doing that he says: “I mean for you to have as much confidence in me as it is possible to have.” For if more were possible, verse 13 says he would have given us that. Now this is our God. The God who is reaching as high as he can reach to inspire your unshakable hope. So flee to God for refuge. Turn from all the superficial, self-defeating hopes of the world and put your hope in God. There is nothing and no one like God as a Refuge and a Rock of hope.
From “When Does God Swear?”
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Day 11 – Reading: Joshua 1:9, Mathew 28:18-20 Be Courageous, God is with you! Joshua 1:9: “…have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Mathew 28:18 -20: “... And Jesus came and said to them, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.” It’s amazing how God assures us every time we are about to embark on a new thing or we are facing difficulty. His assurance is usually pointing to the fact that he is with us always. I remember when I started my form one at a high school in Masvingo. Being a boarding school, this was the first time I was away from home for a protracted length of time. If you have been to boarding school, you may be aware that at times there is bullying that takes place there. At this particular boarding school there was something called “raiding”, this was when seniors normally Form two and three would come to the form one dormitories and take food by force from every form one who did not have an older brother to protect them. I did not have an older brother to protect me, I was scared that all the goodies mom had prepared for me would be taken away from me. An incredible thing happened to me when my parents dropped me, a senior who was into body building and martial arts took me to my hostel. He would regularly come and check up on me during the course of the week, while everyone around me was being raided I was not touched. They said to each other, “Leave this one other wise “Killer” (How the body building Senior was affectionately known) will beat you up.” That gave me the courage to stand up for my dorm mates and our dorm only got raided once before I knew who was at my side and what he was capable of doing. This is almost similar to us and God, at times we are fearful of challenges, and situations which we are facing or we are about to face because we forget who is walking this journey called life with us! Friends my exhortation to you today is, “Be courageous! God is with you”.
Written by: Simba Nhapi
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Day 12 – Reading: Luke 17:5-6 Faith as a mustard seed The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”He replied, “if you have have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you” I have been reading the gospels in the last few weeks and they are choc–a–bloc full of miracle after miracle. And Jesus' teaching pierces the heart so much that I can understand why the apostles cried, 'Increase our faith'. Life in the gospels felt to me so unreal and so other worldly that i couldn't possibly live that kind of life. But i know I am wrong, that kind of life is exactly the kind of life Jesus meant for me. So what is wrong? I concluded like the disciples did- I need more faith More faith! More faith! Faith that laughs at impossibilities! Please give me faith, Jesus! This has been my prayer for many years. And when I read that the disciples asked for the very same thing - more faith, I thought to myself I am going to use the rule of precedence and say to Jesus, “you gave the disciples more faith, do the same for me!” But alas I can't because Jesus didn't grant their request, instead, he says something that at first glance doesn't make sense. He doesn't say receive faith nor does he say stir up your faith, he starts to talk about a mustard seed, a mulberry tree and the sea. Doesn't seem like an answer but it is. I think Jesus is saying, it’s not the size of faith that matters – mustard seeds are famously small- all that matters is that one has faith even if it’s as small as a mustard seed. This got me very excited, because it means even I can say to a mulberry tree be uprooted and be planted in sea and the tree will obey me. Me! Me! Me! I can do this. I don't want to even think about putting limits to this promise because “mulberry trees uprooting themselves” is too good to be true! Actually it's ridiculous! Why would anyone want to uproot mulberry trees supernaturally instead of digging them up? I don't know but it can be done, Jesus says so. We can uproots trees by faith. Actually we can have very small faith, tell the trees to uproot themselves and they will do it! How ridiculous is that!? But isn't that exactly the problem? It feels ridiculous to supernaturally uproot trees when we can us picks and shovels. And as we think, plan and pray for 2017 we have different size mulberry trees that needs to be moved into the sea. We pick our own picks and shovels and we ask God to guide us as we dig so that we will have enough strength and know exactly where were the tap root is. It feels all very spiritual. It does because 'we are committing our ways to God'. But we forget, we have power to tell trees to uproot themselves and they will obey. I pray that in 2017 we might not be shaken by the mulberry trees we face or worry when our picks and shovels plans go south because we will always remember that we can move trees. We have small faith, we have enough faith. Holy Spirit helps us remember who we are and what we can do. We have a good Father who has given us the gift of uprooting trees. Let’s start today exercising this gift for the glory of our good Father. AMEN!
Written by: Hlulani Chauke
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Day 13 – Reading: John 14:12-14 Raising our Expectations The beginning of a year, month, week or day is often the best time to reflect on one’s targets or priorities for a period as well as review how we have done in the recent past. This is a great way to focus on our priorities and celebrate all that has been achieved whilst giving thanks to God for His faithfulness and grace. In our reading, Jesus, has informed His disciples of His impending death and has been comforting them by telling them of the place He is going to prepare for them. Then He drops this bomb – the disciples will be able to do what He did and indeed, even greater! Not only that, whatever they ask in His name He will do to glorify His Father. Now, picture this: the disciples have seen Him multiply food, heal every disease, raise the dead, transfigure, walk on water and control the weather and they have just been told they would do the same and greater than this! But here is the real kicker, this promise is true for you as well as you too are His disciple. Back to our targets and priorities; how many of these are what Jesus did? How many of these are greater? As I review my 2017 goals considering this verse I am challenged to let go of small, selfish dreams and seek the Lord for His heart and desires as well as to look at His works to grow my faith for what could be if I asked in Jesus name. Brothers and sisters, may we raise our expectations for what is possible today, this week and this year.
Written by: Keith Maphosa
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Day 14 – Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:15 Glorify by Giving Thanks “It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” Gratitude is joy toward God for his grace. But by its very nature, gratitude glorifies the giver. It acknowledges its own need and the beneficence of the giver. Just like I humble myself and exalt the waitress in the restaurant when I say, “Thank you,” to her, so I humble myself and exalt God when I feel gratitude to him. The difference, of course, is that I really am infinitely in debt to God for his grace, and everything he does for me is free and undeserved. But the point is that gratitude glorifies the giver. It glorifies God. And this is Paul’s final goal in all his labors: for the sake of the church — yes; but, above and beyond that, for the glory of God. The wonderful thing about the gospel is that the response it requires from us for God’s glory is also the response which we feel to be most natural and joyful, namely, gratitude for grace. God’s glory and our gladness are not in competition. A life that gives glory to God for his grace and a life of deepest gladness are always the same life. And what makes them one is gratitude.
From “Grace, Gratitude, and the Glory of God – John Piper”
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Day 15 – Reading: 2 Timothy 3:1–2 The Gravity of Gratitude “In the last days there will come times of stress. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful . . .” Notice how ingratitude goes with pride, abuse and insubordination. In another place Paul says, “Let there be no obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking . . . but rather thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4). So it seems that gratitude is the opposite of ugliness and violence. The reason this is so is that the feeling of gratitude is a humble feeling not a proud one. It is other-exalting, not self-exalting. And it is glad-hearted not angry or bitter. The key to unlocking a heart of gratitude and overcoming bitterness and ugliness and disrespect and violence is a strong belief in God, the Creator and Sustainer and Provider and Hope-giver. If we do not believe we are deeply indebted to God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude has gone dry. So I conclude that the rise of violence and sacrilege and ugliness and insubordination in the last times is a God-issue. The basic issue is a failure to feel gratitude at the upper levels of our dependence. When the high spring of gratitude to God fails at the top of the mountain, soon all the pools of thankfulness begin to dry up further down the mountain. And when gratitude goes, the sovereignty of the self condones more and more corruption for its pleasure. Pray for a great awakening of humble gratitude.
From “Violence, Ugliness, and Thanksgiving – John Piper”
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Day 16 â€“ Reading: Matthew 25:34-40 My Brotherâ€™s Keeper Sitting in an office in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, it's easy to get lost in the urban setting around us and forget a different reality; the peri-urban and rural areas not too far from us. As they say, "Out of sight, out of mind" for most urban folk. But travel beyond 20km in any direction outside Bulawayo you begin to see the changing landscape, from cars to bicycles and scotch-carts, from brick under tile to mud and thatch, from sprinklers and swimming pools to dry arid land. The differences are not limited to that only, but also to basic needs. The further you drive into the rural context, the more you see people struggle for things we take for granted. Things such as electricity, water (just water, never mind piped water!), food, clothes, and basic health amongst others. To zero in on one- water: even in an urban context, rationing is bad for those without boreholes and makes basic sanitation difficult. In one rural area, I saw ladies wait in a borehole queue for their turn to get water for their homes from midday and only managed to get water after dark. By then there is so little water left each person is only allowed two 20 litre containers. The rains in Zimbabwe have been erratic for at least a few years now and the water situation in the drier areas is often dire. The dams are taking "forever" to fill up and crops have been burnt by the sun... again! I may grumble about the water rationing - at least it comes 3 days out of 7. There are those not too far from us, who have to trust God for daily water and don't always get it. Even bathing and laundry become a luxury when the little water they can access has to cater for cooking and drinking. So exactly whose role is it to deal with challenges like these and help people? Matthew 25:34-40, below, shows something of Gods heart towards his suffering people: "Then the King [Jesus] will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' "(ESV) Wow, so we do have a role to play... all of us! And by serving others in this way we are actually serving Jesus! For some people, the required needs are basic and we, together, have a responsibility and a privilege to love Jesus by helping those who can't help themselves. It begins with me! After all, we are our brotherâ€™s keeper!! So, ask God to show you one person today who has a need of some sort which you can meet and just do it. And also offer to pray for them and see what happens! Written by: Hannington Sibanda
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Day 17 – Reading: Daniel 9:2–3 Praying for Zimbabwe “In the first year of the reign of Darius, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9 is a model prayer for a desolate nation. It will energise our prayers for Zimbabwe. Daniel was taken captive to Babylon as a young man after Jerusalem, the city of God, had been destroyed. Daniel never lost faith though it must surely have seemed that God had abandoned his people. He remained confident that the Lord God directs the affairs of nations and now as an old man he understood that God’s time for his people to return to Jerusalem was near. And so he prayed…… The destruction of Jerusalem was far more complete and devastating than the desolation of Zimbabwe today. Though we may not have as clear a word in the Scriptures about how long the troubles may last we do know, with Daniel, that ‘The Lord’s dominion is an everlasting dominion and his kingdom endures from generation to generation.’ Daniel’s response was to turn to the Lord God. Let us join Daniel today praying, “O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay.” (Daniel 9:19)
Written by: David Cunningham
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Day 18 – Reading: Daniel 9: 5–14 Praying for Zimbabwe “O Lord, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and your laws. This day we are covered with shame because of our unfaithfulness to you…. The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.” That does not sound like the prayer of a righteous person! Yet it is Daniel praying and he was one of the godliest men in the whole Bible. Israel’s rulers and her priests may have done wrong but Daniel does not pray against ‘them.’ His is an ‘us’ prayer. It is startling how much he identified himself with the wickedness of the nation, with the sins of the leaders. Daniel is righteous but not self-righteous. As we continue praying for Zimbabwe today let us learn from Daniel identifying with and confessing our national sin and shame. Let us cry out to God for his mercy. We need it and we certainly don’t deserve it. Praise God, he is full of compassion. The Lord loves mercy.
Written by: David Cunningham
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Day 19 – Reading: Daniel 9:5–19 Praying for Zimbabwe “O Lord, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and keep his commands…… Lord, you are righteous…. Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favour on your desolate sanctuary….. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. For your sake, O my God, do not delay.” Daniel’s prayer is based on the character of God. It breathes the reality of a living relationship with the Lord his God. And so the burden of his prayer is for God’s Name to be honoured and God’s glory known. It is ‘for your sake, O Lord’ and ‘for your sake, O my God.’ Our prayers are so often for our personal comfort and for our needs to be met. That is not wrong and, praise God, he commits to meeting our needs for he is our heavenly Father. But let us learn more robust praying from Daniel. May God’s Name be honoured and His glory known in Zimbabwe. May the whole world know that there is a God in Zimbabwe – for your sake, O my God.
Written by: David Cunningham
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Day 20 – Reading: Micah 7:7 God Always Hears “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” Friends may be unfaithful, but the Lord will not turn away from the gracious soul; on the contrary, He will hear all its desires. The prophet says, “Keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. A man’s enemies are the men of his own house.” This is a wretched state of affairs; but even in such a case the Best Friend remains true, and we may tell Him all our grief. Our wisdom is to look unto the Lord and not to quarrel with men or women. If our loving appeals are disregarded by our relatives, let us wait upon the God of our salvation, for He will hear us- He will hear us all the more because of the unkindness and oppression of others, and we shall soon have reason to cry, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy!” Because God is the living God, He can hear; because He is a loving God, He will hear; because He is our covenant God, He has bound Himself to hear us. If we can each one speak of Him as “My God,” we may with absolute certainty say, “My God will hear me.” Come, then, O bleeding heart, and let thy sorrows tell themselves out to the Lord thy God! I will bow the knee in secret and inwardly whisper, “My God will hear me.” From “Daily Faith Devotional”
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Day 21 – Reading: Isaiah 58:11 Continual Guidance “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” What aileth thee? Hast thou lost thy way? Art thou entangled in a dark wood and canst thou not find thy paths? Stand still, and see the salvation of God. He knows the way, and He will direct thee in it if thou cry unto Him. Every day brings its own perplexity. How sweet to feel that the guidance of the Lord is continual! If we choose our own way or consult with flesh and blood, we cast off the Lord’s guidance; but if we abstain from self-will, then He will direct every step of our road, every hour of the day, and every day of the year, and every year of our life. If we will but be guided, we shall be guided. If we will commit our way unto the Lord, He will direct our course so that we shall not lose ourselves. But note to whom this promise is made. Read the previous verse: “If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry.” We must feel for others and give them, not a few dry crusts, but such things as we ourselves would wish to receive. If we show a tender care for our fellow-creatures in the hour of their need, then will the Lord attend to our necessities and make Himself our continual Guide. Jesus is the Leader, not of misers, nor of those who oppress the poor, but of the kind and tenderhearted. Such persons are pilgrims who shall never miss their way. From “Daily Faith Devotional”
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"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." Mic 4:2 (NIV)
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