Oct 28, 2009

Know Thy Season, Know Thy Reason!

Know thy season, know thy reason! That is right...as thou doth fast and pray. 

Several posts ago, August 28th, I shared with you how I approach times of crucial ministry decisions, major personal life changes, or when entering into a significant ministry opportunity. Through the discipline of prayer and fasting, I get to hear God more clearly, draw great strength and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, and focus on the mission or situation that is at hand.

There are times when the situation or circumstance looks so gigantic. Yet as soon as I bring it to the Lord during a season of prayer and fasting, great clarity tends to happen around it. A recent example pertains to our missionary work to Burundi in September when we needed $ 22,000 in ten days.

Although we knew that God's will was for us to go to Burundi, the amount needed looked staggering. But as soon as we brought it to the Lord during a season of three days of fasting and prayer, our faith grew to the point where we had no doubt the goal would be achieved. We were brought back to the place of hearing God rather than look at the circumstance. And in affirmation of that faith, within six days, provision flowed from every direction, little by little, until the whole amount came in ahead of our departure.

In reflecting on the prayer and fasting season undertaken by Daniel in Daniel 9, one thing strikes me. The first key to Daniel's breakthrough is that his season of prayer and fasting is informed and driven by God's Word/revealed Will. Daniel shares in verses 2 and 3 that it is not the need of the Jewish people or his own to be free that drives him to the place of prayer and fasting. It is the revealed Word of the Lord that does.

He knew by searching, what needed to happen and when. So long as it wasn't God's revealed season of restoration, Daniel humbly served in captivity. But when he read what was revealed as God's Word by the prophet Jeremiah and realized that the time had come, he "gave attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes." 

Informed prayer is powerful prayer. I have heard people often pray saying, "Lord, if it is your will, then..." They thus demonstrate their ignorance regarding God's Will in the situation and yet expect to receive answers from the Lord. It is no wonder that we rarely receive answers to such prayers. When we do, it is entirely God showing us His mercy in spite our ignorance.

Clearly, God wants us to know ahead of time what His will is before we fast and pray. Daniel did not pray the prayers of Chapter 9 in Chapter 1 when he had just entered captivity. He knew that captivity was God's Will for that season and therefore prayed for grace to handle the challenges of captivity. God was faithful throughout, preserving him from idolatry, shutting mouths of hungry lions, elevating him to the place of honor among his peers and of great influence over his captors.

But when that season of captivity was done, Daniel changed his way of praying and aligned it with God's revealed will for the new season. It was time to pray for the end of captivity and for the restoration of Jerusalem.

So here is my caveat as we here at SWIM ministries fast and pray regarding the current and next season of ministry: We know that God has called us to take His gospel to the nations. It is not a matter of whether or not we ought to take the gospel. We know so and have faithfully done so throughout the years. Our need is for the resources to continue to do so.

As at this stage of our operations for the year, we have received 75 % of the budget amount the Lord laid on our hearts for 2009. This is amazing given the economic realities of 2009. That said, we need the remaining 25% to come in before December 31st. That is what God showed our Leadership Board and that is what we are praying for.

Secondly, we know that God is calling us to new initiatives in 2010 both local and global. Our need is to know which specific ones they will be, how we will need to carry them out, who we will need to involve, where, when and of course...show me the money.

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