40 Days of Prayer & Fasting: Week 4 Devotionals

Day 22 (April 26, 2020)

“That same night the Lord said to Gideon, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.” (Judges 6:25)

In light of the big victory that Gideon’s story includes, it’s easy to overlook the first assignment and victory that God gave Gideon: Tear down the idols at home first. I wonder how the battle might have unraveled if he wasn’t diligent in establishing God’s authority and centrality at home first. My own experience says, “badly”. Not because he wasn’t called, but because he hadn’t yet submitted personally to the authority he was to exercise publicly.

Everyone who has delivered a message from God knows the “joy” of preparing – when it’s not just the preparation of words, but the process through which God has to write the message on the messenger’s heart. Speak on the subject of forgiveness, and find yourself needing to work through your own forgiveness before you can deliver the message. Sound familiar? It’s far more than learning a lesson. It’s much harder than that. It the process of submitting to God.

But think about it, when did Gideon begin to defeat the enemies of Israel? Was it when he marched out against Midian, mini-army in tow, clay pots and torches in hand? Or was it when he tore down the idols in his own life and family? Private victory leads to public victory.

COVID-19 is re-writing many of our realities. My heart is getting exposed. How about you? Take heart, maybe the Lord is not far away, but very close, tenderly preparing us for future public victories.

Rev. Kent Bandy, Director of Ellel Minitries

Day 23 (April 27, 2020)

“At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks you diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgements, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9)

There is a longing for all things to be made right. Isaiah beautifully depicts the longing for God’s judgements because Isaiah is fully confident in the Lord’s goodness. The Lord’s justice is rich, beautiful, and wholly perfect. It is what the world needs but doesn’t know it. I have been asking the Lord to reinvent my understanding of justice and judgement so that it aligns with who He is. Like Isaiah, I want to be fully confident that there is only perfection when He administers judgement and justice. His compassion, His love, His righteousness, His anger, His mercy, His patience, etc. All of these work in perfect tandem and cannot be separated when He administer judgement, unlike human judgement.

As a worldwide church, we are petitioning the Lord. We are petitioning His help, His presence. We are petitioning Him. We are asking Him to come. I’ve been struck that in our asking (joining in John’s prayer from Revelation 22:20), He will bring the fullness of who He is, all working seamlessly, in perfection together. Church, as we pray together for Him to come, to be ushered in, to do His mighty works, He alone will meet that longing to make all things right. We need not be afraid of what’s ahead. We can trust in His perfect character that only works from perfect goodness.

Lauren Roth, Ottawa ON

Day 24 (April 28, 2020)

Where can I go but to the Lord?

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27b KJV)

Where can I go but to the Lord? This sentence from a song of yesteryear popped into my mind this morning. To go to Jesus is the best and right thing to do in this time of turmoil and trouble. We don’t know what lies ahead. We don’t know when we will freely hug one another and break bread together. However, we can seek the one who knows.

Let us pray that the chaos we are experiencing today will cause man to cry out to God, that thousands will come to salvation before that final and dreadful day of the Lord’s return. We, as believers, are called to be His hand extended. Will our attitudes and kindness influence others to want to know the God of our salvation?

Recently, I heard a man in a TV interview, saying how his priorities had changed since COVID 19. His lovely home and expensive car were of little importance. What mattered to him was his family, their safety and wellbeing and keeping them from the virus. He also talked about the pleasure of his garden, and the peace he found in spending time there. I hope he has met God in his garden. In the book of John, Jesus has many conversations with His disciples. Once He stated, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (Jn. 8:32)

Let us pray for men and women to take their eyes off the problems of this world, and become free in Jesus.

Mary Haskett, Ottawa ON

Day 25 (April 29, 2020)

 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Ps 46:10)

I sometimes have a hard time getting to sleep. I am naturally a night owl and my brain turns ON at night, not off. I’ve tried everything. I have a pen and pad beside the bed so I can write down thoughts and ideas – sometimes in the dark. Warm milk, Sleepytime Tea doesn’t work, even sleep aids work opposite for me. But what I have found is that the house, the neighbourhood is very quiet at night. So, I have some of my best times of devotion at night.

The sacred word that centers me when my brain runs on and on is the word ‘still’. “Be still and know that I am God” takes on a deeper meaning for me at night. I’m able to process the events of the day and remind myself that He is on the throne of my life and He is my constant help.

1 Kings 19, the gentle whisper, the ‘still small voice’ can break through for me at night when the day and all its requirements are finished. The noise of the day, the mistakes made, regrets, distractions, all fade to the background and I’m able to listen.

And when concerns and deadlines are weighing heavy on me for the next day, I remember Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

And when the concerns turn into storms, as they many times do, I’m reminded of Mark 4:39. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” And I pray, “Jesus, still the storm in me.”

I will speak the words to myself – “Be still” – as a sacred reminder of all these things, and as a reminder that His voice is the one I truly want to hear above all the noise.

Pastor Kathy Casement, Verona ON

Day 26 (April 30, 2020)

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (John 13:6-8)

The saviour bent down to serve, and Peter stops him.

He calls him Lord, and yet he cannot accept his gesture of service. His cultural imprint won’t allow it, and his piety must be shown. Peter, upon hearing Jesus’ reply says with an impassioned cry,

“Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (John 13:9)

Jesus kindly corrects Peter and redirects his enthusiasm for ritual cleanliness towards this profound reality, “You are clean.”

In a moment where Peter thinks an outward symbol would help him be “part” of Jesus, he misses the fact that he is already a friend.

This month I have been tempted to pronounce my fasting with ashes on my head. I have been tempted to believe that through “setting myself apart” I am doing something. Oh, I am participating, but I needed to realize I am not doing the work. Being set apart, being clean is always His work.

The more I focused on being satisfied with my fasting, the more I made a spiritual checklist, vigorously ticking off the boxes; fasted…check, prayed…check (well a quick one anyways), Sunday night prayer time…check, read the blog…most days – check. The more boxes I ticked the more consecration became my work. I have been tempted to rise above the crowd of disciples and display my righteousness declaring boldly, “not just my feet but my hands and head as well.” But I know my own soul. I know I have checked spiritual boxes for the sake of the crowd and not The One.

Then in that space of seeing my own soul and knowing I checked boxes for others and not my father I feel unclean like a child caught in a tale with no exit to be found. In a very precious moment I stand before my Father and I acknowledge, He saw it all, and was never fooled.

So, I read the words, “you are clean” and I hear my father say, “Let me do the work. Let me wash your feet, let me consecrate you. Let me change your heart. Surrender instead of do more, and I will consecrate you.”

Pastor Luke Haggett, Ottawa ON

Day 27 (May 1, 2020)

“Let us acknowledge the LORD, let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:3 NIV)

Acknowledge – accept or admit the existence or truth of, affirm, avow, broadcast, proclaim, recognize the importance of

Press in – to continue moving forward in a forceful or steady way; to continue to do something especially in a determined way.

Have you ever thought about why God created human beings – especially with all that is going on in the world or when we look at our own failings? Here in the middle of Hosea, a story of unfaithfulness, repentance and restoration, we catch a glimpse of why – God longs for us to know Him so He can come to us, appear to us, and have a relationship with us.

The Lord wants us to acknowledge, to admit and to accept that God IS and is faithful and true to his word. But it is more than a passive acceptance. It is one that presses on to acknowledge him in a determined, steady way. Like Mary of Bethany who went against the socially accepted norms of the day, entered Simon’s house at meal time and poured oil on Jesus’ feet acknowledging who he was and what he had done for her.

The beautiful, wonderful thing about this is, that Jesus looked upon her with favour even as He reprimanded Simon (John 12: 1- 11). This verse in Hosea tells us that this is what He does when we acknowledge and press in to Him. He WILL appear, he WILL come to us as surely as the sun rises, as the winter and spring rains come. Jesus will come.

Isn’t it exciting to be part of a body that is collectively pressing in to Him? God spoke to individuals and to nations and He is speaking to us. We can be sure He will come – to us individually and corporately – He has given His word that He will. And for that I am very thankful.

Acknowledge Him, press in to Him – HE WILL COME.

Linda Roth, Ottawa ON

Day 28 (May 2, 2020)

Is the Pandemic God’s Judgment on the World?

“For I did no come to judge the world, but to save it.” (Jn. 12:47b)

This question is on a lot of people’s minds these days and I think it is a valid question to ask. Mind you, when it is asked or thought about, many of us immersed in our Western world’s worldview, gets quite fidgety. The Western-minded person is waiting, ready to pounce on anyone who would dare to suggest that God would be that mean. And, many Christians are afraid to look that question in the eye, in case they discover that it is true and they would be ostracized if they even hinted that they thought that was so.

I have pondered this and have concluded that I don’t know if God has directly set this plague but do know that He has sovereignly allowed it as a means to stir people to seek His help and ultimately seek Him. After Adam and Eve decided to try and be gods themselves and live in their own wisdom and strength apart from God, He cursed the world with many woes, including pandemics, as a way to call us back to Himself. Actually, He uses both the blessings and the curses of life to be like guardrails on the road of life that, if heeded, will guide is towards Him.

The coming of Jesus was actually both a source of blessing and cursing to the world, because if we accept the salvation He offers us, we are blessed and if we reject it we are cursed. Jesus expresses this truth with these words in Jn. 12:47b, 48:

“For I did no come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”

That is why Jesus wept over Jerusalem as He rode into the city on what we call Palm Sunday and said:

“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now its hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:42)

Because of this I am being stirred to pray:

  1. That the world will awaken to its need of God and that Jesus is the way to God’s favour, blessing and eternal life.
  2. That the Church will not get caught up in anxiety and negativity but allow God to use these trials to develop our character so that we become more like Jesus.
  3. That the Church will be stirred to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will renew us so that we can shine like lights in this dark hour, that may well be just the beginning of other difficult times.

(This devotional is based on a message I delivered to Chapel Ridge FMC in Ottawa this past Sunday and if you are interested in reading more about this subject, you can go to the link below) https://drive.google.com/open?id=1CV3ZZBWZX8mTusTqP2kiKTdU7oSa2ngJ

Pastor Ken, National Prayer Team Lead