Devotionals for the First Week of our 40 Days of Prayer & Fasting
Editor’s note: These devotionals were composed by leaders and intercessors in FMCIC churches. As you read them and meditate upon them, listen for what God is saying to us at this time. At times they quote the same passage of Scripture…perhaps God is seeking to emphasis to us some things.
Day One (April 5, 2020, Palm Sunday)
“…not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)
The answer to this particular prayer was that Jesus, the pray-er, was brutally murdered… and then supernaturally, He defeated death and rose from the dead. The outcome was earth-shattering, but the journey was painful for the one who prayed the prayer. Sacrifice usually is painful. Praying this prayer, “not my will but yours”, often is painful, but with powerful outcomes. It is the prayer that surrenders everything to God. It is a prayer that does not ask to see the outcome, does not demand recognition, does not ask for reasons and explanations from God. It is a very brave prayer because it could lead you into places that you never imagined or desired or dreamed. It’s a prayer that stares in the face of our pride, fears, entitlement, opinions, ego, tastes and says, “Father, I trust You first. I trust You with my life, and my family’s lives. Whatever You want from or for me, I want too!”
But in order to pray these words, one must be aware of what their “will” is! I mean, I can’t relinquish my will if I don’t know what my will is. I can’t surrender if I don’t know what I am surrendering. Jesus’ prayed what His will was, “take this cup from Me”. Surrender requires self-awareness.
Soon we will be together at General Conference. Let’s pray brave: “Lord, help me to be aware of my opinions, pride, fears, tastes and ego. I pray, not my way, or will, but Yours be done. Lead us wherever You would like us to go. Not our wills, but Yours!”
– Bishop Cliff
Day 2 (April 6, 2020)
“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” (Luke 22:39-43)
I have found that so often in my life I have made the mistake of associating my closeness with the Father with how comfortable I was in my current situation. Then I look at Jesus here in the garden. He is terrified at what is to come. He doesn’t want to do it. Jesus’ fear is legitimate. It’s about to get ugly, really ugly. I can’t tell you how many times I have been counselled to not fear, as if my fear was a lack of faith, a lack of trust in God’s goodness.
Jesus doesn’t pray “Father, remove this cup, No? OK, no problem, I’m fine.” Jesus prays “Nevertheless”. In Matthew’s account (ch. 26) we feel His agony and “nevertheless” means that in spite of this still present ache, “not my will, but yours, be done.”
The Father’s call is sometimes scary. Jesus knows this better than any.
May you cease asking for false confidence and choose instead His will in the midst of the ache. In so doing, may you be strengthened and encouraged, like Jesus, by the divine presence.
– Pastor Paul Millar, Westport ON
Day 3 (April 7, 2020)
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of Jesus. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well… The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.”
(James 5:13-18 NLT)
After years of setting God aside, it seems in 2020 our land is dry and barren. Our world is hurting, suffering, lost, sick… searching for something more. That something more can only be fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. We are called to pray. Pray for revival of the prayer life of every believer. Pray just as Elijah prayed for rain, that God would open up the sky and revive the Holy Spirit fire within us. That it would not be able to be contained and would spread like wild fire throughout our denomination, across Canada, around the world and the earth would yield crops of new believers on fire for Christ. As we pray God will hear and heal our land. Holy Spirit rain down.
– Debbie Stewart, Kemptville ON
Day 4 (April 8, 2020)
THEY PRAYED, GOD ANSWERED
Jesus said: “Pray” (Luke 11: 1 – 12)
“never give up praying” (Luke 18: 1 – 8)
“Ask and you shall receive that your joy might be full” (John 16: 24)
Many years ago, I was finishing up at Asbury Theological Seminary. My wife was expecting our first child and had quit work, so I was trying to work and finish seminary at the same time. As I travelled to work Monday morning I began telling the Lord how weak I felt as I approached Pastoral ministry beyond seminary. That morning I felt the Lord say, “David, if you will make prayer a priority in your life, I (God) will bless your ministry”.
Since that time, I have sought to make prayer a crucial part of my personal and pastoral life. However, 8 years later, I hit a crisis that I could not seem to pray through. I had been appointed to Oshawa. At that time the Oshawa Church was meeting in a school, without a church and without property to build on. For 3 months we looked, but no property seemed right or affordable. Again, travelling across town to visit I prayed, “Lord I don’t know what to do, people are discouraged and I just don’t feel I can go on this way.” At that moment God my heavenly Father spoke again to my heart, “David, I don’t want you to go on this way. Ask others to pray with you and watch ME work”. So, I went home and wrote a letter to 23 retired pastors and spouses, and other prayer warriors I knew. I told them of the crucial situation and I asked them to pray for a miracle of land for a church in Oshawa.
Two weeks later a person offered us 3 acres of land priced very reasonably. But it was in Courtice – that is 5 miles outside Oshawa! Yet the Board felt it was God’s plan and bought it. Two months later, I opened the Oshawa paper and the headline read “Courtice Concept”! Oshawa was going to build 10,000 homes in Courtice! After that, it seemed to me, I stood back and watched God work, as these saints of the Free Methodist Church prayed.
I deeply believe Jesus meant what HE said, when HE said “Pray”. I also believe God meant what HE said when HE told Solomon, “If my people will pray and seek my face, I will hear and I will act”, (II Chron. 7:14).
Watchman Nee in his book, “The Prayer Ministry of the Church”, says prayer must be more than devotional, it must be a ministry. I deeply believe God is calling many of us in the FM Church who are older to make prayer our ministry. I will always be thankful for those retired pastors and widows who interceded for Oshawa at that crucial time. But I believe God can do it again in the FMCIC, but HE is waiting for the saints to pray. Let us join together in obedience, faith, and intercession, and expect God to work wonderful miracles among us in the days ahead.
– Pastor David Dyer, Napanee ON
Day 5 (April 19, 2020)
“watch” Psalm 121
As you read through psalm 121, the word “watch” is used 5 times in 8 short stanzas. He, our god, is constantly watching us. The first time I read and began to meditate on this psalm I realized I was annoyed that my God, my Lord, was just watching me. Watching seemed impersonal, uninvolved, distant and aloof. Since the Psalms were written originally in Hebrew, I looked up the word translated as “watch” in the NIV version I was reading.
The Hebrew word translated as “watch” in the NIV is shamar in Hebrew. The definition provided for shamar is – to keep guard, to keep safe, to preserve, to protect, to watch and to pay careful attention to. Shamar is a verb – an action word in which God is originating attentive action towards us. This definition of shamar is miles away from the passive, aloof, uninvolved impression that I held of our English word “watch”. Shamar is just the opposite of my take on the distant, uncommitted watching. Shamar is deeply personal, providing care, guidance, safety and protection.
Psalm 121, verses 7 and 8 goes on to say we experience shamar all day, every day and every night anywhere we go – both now and forevermore. We indeed serve a good, caring and personally involved God. We are continuously encircled by the caring arms of our loving heavenly Father who is wanting and willing to renew each one of us so His kingdom will reign on earth as it is in heaven.
Heavenly Father, your church is made up of many believers. Help each one of us to recognize and walk in the awareness of your constant care, guidance, protection, and presence in order to heal and renew each of our lives. We thank you for “watching” over us individually and collectively as a church so Your will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen
– Susan Jackson ,Peterborough ON
Day 6 (April 10, 2020, Good Friday)
“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42 NASB).
I have found myself praying this prayer regularly in these unprecedented times. Hope has been stirring and rising in me as I’ve leaned into this. I’m asking the Father to stir this prayer in His church. As we are preparing for unknown days ahead, I wonder, if indeed, He’s working to bring our wills into alignment with His purposes.
We see how beautifully Jesus petitions His desires and request to the Father. He is not afraid to ask. Yet, He recognizes there is a greater purpose and His role is to be positioned by the Father in the way the Father desires. Jesus then submits His human will to His Father’s will. What a perfect picture of how we can be layering our prayers. To petition for the Lord’s healing in this crisis and to simultaneously submit our hopes, desires and will into His perfect, all-knowing plan. We can trust He sees the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning.
Church, may we find joy in learning how to come into alignment with the Father’s will even when it doesn’t align with our own. He has not forgotten us, He has not abandoned us. He is present and He is working to establish “His Kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven.” His Kingdom will advance. He has promised.
– Lauren Roth, Ottawa
Day 7 (April 11, 2020)
We believe in the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The trinity is a mystery, but one thing we know is that the triune God, who is one in essence, lives in community. As Baxter Kruger puts it, “The trinity is not three highly committed religious types sitting in some room in heaven. The trinity is a circle of shared life, and the life that is shared is full, not empty, abounding and rich and beautiful, not lonely and sad and boring.” As you can imagine, the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. The Father and the Son loves the Spirit who loves them in return. Can you imagine the conversation in this community that is filled to overflowing with life and love?
All of that is important for you to know because of our scripture today. When we think of our salvation, we often think of how Jesus has come into our lives. That is a wonderful truth. However, what is also true is that, not only is Christ in you, but you are also in him. Colossians 1:3 says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” You are in Christ and Christ is in the middle of that wonderful, life filled, love filled community. The conversation of love is flowing around you, it is flowing through you. Give thanks for who you are, and where you are. You are in Christ and Christ is in God.
– Pastor Brent Russett, Perth ON