A Call to Pray and Fast

On July 23, just ten days before the explosion at Minnehaha Academy, Pastor Jonathan exhorted us to pray as individuals, and as a church, whenever we feel stuck and do not know what to do, to look to God with childlike trust.

 

Now here we are, three weeks later, thanking God we have a place to meet for the next three weeks, but not yet having any plan for what to do after that.

 

We are like one of Israel’s few faithful kings, Jehoshaphat. Word came to him that the neighboring nations had teamed up against him and a hostile multitude was coming his way. What did he do? This is 2 Chronicles 20:3: he “set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all” the land. And when the nation “assembled to seek help from the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:4), and the king stood in the assembly to speak, he remembered the power of God (hear this Cities Church!):

 

“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. . . . O our God, . . . we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:6, 12)

 

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

 

What is God doing for our church in this displacement? We don’t know. And we don’t know what do to — do we try to just get by a few more weeks and wait to see whether the chapel at Minnehaha might be available sooner than later, or do we look for another long-term space to rent, or do we look for something to buy? Do we continue to meet on Sunday mornings, and in the central metro — because it gets a lot easier to find space if we meet on Sunday nights, or are willing to meet in less densely populated areas?

 

We pastors don’t know what to do, but we do know one thing to do: to pray. And so we want to call our church to a special season of prayer, and to fasting together this week. More on that in a minute.

 

To provide some context, this spring we were moving toward merging with First Baptist, until God made it plain that was not his next step for us. So we came out of the spring thinking, “Let’s go all-in at Minnehaha.” Then came August 2. And now here we are, asking together, in faith, “God, what do you have for us now?” We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

 

So, the exhortation this morning is again a call to prayer, but this time, specifically, “O God, show us the way forward. Lead us, guide us, provide for us, and even more, draw near to us. We don’t just want your provision, but we want you. Show yourself strong for us.”

 

As we said last week, wouldn’t it be just like God to show himself strong in us, through us, and for us right in the midst of our season of weakness? “My grace is sufficient for you,” Jesus says, “for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). We don’t know how great his power is until we’re weak.

 

So, Cities Church, the pastors ask you to make this a matter of prayer individually and in our families and with roommates and in community group and life groups. And we’re calling a church-wide fast this Wednesday: fast one meal — breakfast, lunch, or dinner — and use the time you would normally be eating to pray and seek God’s face for our church in this season. Not just his hand, but his face. Let’s pray.

 

(For some basic direction, see this short article, “Fasting for Beginners.”)

Prayer of Confession

Father in heaven,

 

We are weak. You are strong. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. Whether you already had our attention, or whether we had been distracted by the cares of this life, you mean to have our attention now, for our eyes to be on you.

 

Father, we confess that we so often look elsewhere. And for this we repent. Forgive us for finding our final hope in anyone but you, and forgive us now, we pray, as we confess our individual sins to you in silence. . . .

 

Father, you have searched Cities Church, and known Cities Church. You know when we sit down and when we rise up; you discern our thoughts from afar. You search out our path and are acquainted with all our ways. Even before a word is on our tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

 

And now, Father, you have hemmed us in, behind and before, and laid your hand upon us. Such knowledge is too wonderful for us; it is high; we cannot attain it. Where shall we go from your Spirit?

 

O God, lead us and guide us and provide for us, but more than that, O God, we want more of you. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you — not just for your hand, but for your face. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.