21 Days of Prayer & Fasting
That’s the challenge I heard from the Lord many years ago. As I wondered what was next, as I hungered for more, this was God’s challenge to me. It began for me a 40 day fast that would change the course of my life forever.
If I’m honest, even though I grew up in the church and even worked on a church staff for many years, fasting was a discipline I had never fully embraced (or really tried) until 2008.
I was sitting in my office contemplating all of the good things God was doing in our lives, in our ministry. I was leading a growing student ministry. We were seeing multiplied hundreds of young people get on their marks and students were desiring to put God first in every area of their lives. We’d never experienced the kind of explosive growth in ministry we were seeing at the time and I remember thinking – “God, what now?”
Never had our church experienced so many young people filling an auditorium all at once. Never had we seen so many hundreds of young people drawn to God in such a powerful way. But still, in my heart I knew there must be something more.
I remember hearing this still small voice (not an audible voice but something deep inside of my heart whispering) …
“In order for me to take you to a place you’ve never been before, you must first be willing to do what you’ve never done before.”
Without giving it any thought, I picked up a piece of paper and wrote down what I’d heard. Beside it, I wrote the word “fast” and circled it.
One minute earlier fasting wasn’t even a blip on my radar. Now, it was something I knew I had to do – wanted to do. I felt an instant conviction that the discipline of fasting was one that had been lost in my generation. I had grown up knowing about people who fasted. I knew Jesus fasted. I knew Moses fasted. I knew my parents had fasted and my grandparents, and even my great grandparents. It was a biblical discipline, but still, I had not embraced it.
I remember thinking about all that God was doing in our lives, in our church, in that student ministry. What God was doing was amazing. And I remember thinking that if I was going to fast, there was only one way to do it – the way Jesus did it – and it would be EPIC.
I circled a date on my calendar and decided that was the day I would begin a 40-day fast. I would drink only juice and water – no added sugar, no added protein or meal replacement powder – just basic juice and water – and I’d eat NO food for 40 days, period.
At the end of those 40 days I remember two distinct feelings – the first was that I wasn’t hungry. Matter of fact, I almost fasted 41 days because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to eat first once the fast was over. It was a feeling I’ve not had since. The second was that I hadn’t experienced anything supernatural. I had no mountain-top experience to shout about. I had no “Jesus Moment” like I thought I would. I guess I figured, if I’d fast 40 days, somewhere during that time Jesus would show up and take me out to lunch. That never happened. So honestly, I was a bit disappointed.
I’d lost 40 pounds in 40 days – and remember wondering what it was all about. Here, I’d done something few people have done. I knew my intentions were pure. I knew what I’d heard that day in my office – especially the part about God taking me to places I’d never been. But nothing immediately changed. And I wondered why.
It wasn’t until a year later that I began to see clearly what God was doing in my life. Within a year we were well on our way to selling our home in Toledo and moving to a city we’d never lived in before, to pursue a dream that God had placed on our hearts years before – a dream of starting a church that would reach the unchurched and awaken the spiritually restless – a church that would make a difference through radial and intentional generosity. In His time, in His way, God was leading us to a place we’d never been before to do what we’d never done before, which meant trusting Him in ways we’d never had to before.
As I consider all that God has done in my life and now, in the life of Rock City Church, I can clearly see three pivotal moments that have more shaped our journey than any others.
The first is that 40-day fast. It changed the game for me. It literally re-set the direction for my life.
The second is the 21-day fast our launch team did together in preparation for the launch of Rock City. I believe we are where we are because of the sacrifice and prayers of those early launch days.
The third is the fast that kicked off 2013. During that fast, 46 people got on their mark. We had record-breaking attendance, including our first weekend over 1,000. More than 100 people went through Rock City Connect, 100 people signed up for a mission trip, and 12 new LifeGroups launched – all within those 21 days!
With the launch of our Regal Campus, since November, we’ve seen more than 275 people get on their mark and our church continues to grow. This past weekend, our 10:45 Lennox worship experience was the largest worship experience we’ve ever had. God is doing something great through the people of Rock City. This is why we fast!
I can’t celebrate what God has done without looking ahead with great anticipation to what God can and will do through a group of people who are willing to humble themselves and seek His face, pray and fast and honor Him.
There’s too much at stake to play it safe. We need the direction of the Holy Spirit and we’re committed to doing whatever it takes to honor God and remain fully obedient to Him as we lead this church.
We’re asking you to join us as we pray and fast for 21 days.
We’re praying for direction. We’re praying for continued favor. We’re praying for a greater outpouring of God’s Spirit in the days, weeks and months to come. We’re praying for this city. We’re praying for the lost and the restless. We’re praying for a move of God’s Spirit.
And we’ll provide you with a Prayer & Fasting Guide this weekend so you can follow along with us, day by day, as we pray and fast together.
I hope you’ll join us.
Our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting will begin on Sunday, January 12, 2014.
Also, for those considering a full fast, we strongly recommend consulting a doctor.