Articles

LOOKING FORWARD TO LENT!
by Marjorie Truesdale

I look forward to Lent for weeks! I have learned in past years what an incredible 40-day journey it is when I set aside special time with the Lord.

My earliest memory of someone fasting from something during Lent was the gum chewer in my High School speech class. She informed all of us regularly how many more days it was before she could chew gum again. The idea of giving something up for Lent didn't impress me at that point.

Since I had grown up in a non-liturgical Christian home, it wasn't until my early 30's that I attended a church that introduced the subject of fasting for forty days prior to Easter. Our pastor recommended that each of us pray, asking God what He would suggest to us as individuals. The emphasis was to deny ourselves as a spiritual discipline but to replace it with an activity as a sacrifice of time, offered to God.

As I prayed the Holy Spirit's gentle suggestion came, "Give up your favorite Saturday night TV show (which happened to be The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and have a Bible study instead." I was very committed to the idea of the fast, and I was also very aware that my entire Saturday's focus was getting ready for THE TV program!

It was so hard to go to my room that first Saturday night. I could hear everyone laughing. I am sorry to tell you my time was mainly a self-righteous pity party. However, by the second week I was ready for a Bible Study. As Easter came, I realized that a wonderful time alone with Jesus, instead of the TV program, had become my anticipation for Saturday.

2010 was no exception. I read through Hunger for God by John Piper. There were questions that God answered for me, especially one concerning the future of Heart of America Ministry Women.

I am looking forward to this year's Lenten Season! I know the time with the Lord will bless Him; and I will have the deep longings of my heart filled to overflowing. I appreciate the permission "Lent" gives me to set aside other activities in exchange for time focusing on Jesus. It also becomes a time to have a "spiritual check up;" seeing more of my heart as Jesus sees it.

I had the privilege of speaking to a group of Catholic women the end of February one year. The topic was Fasting. I have included the handouts below that we passed out that day.

Please feel free to download them and use them yourself.


Suggestions for Lent

Focus this year on being the Bride of Christ.

An engaged woman spends months preparing herself for the wedding. Very likely she would also learn to know more about the family she is going to be married into. Reflect on the fact that when Jesus comes to get you, He will be the King; as His Bride, you will be part of His Kingdom. He expects you to begin to prepare for that now, and start living your entire life His way.

Plan the time of day you will set aside to be with your Groom-to-be. You will want to spend time reading love letters from Him (the Bible), talking to Him (prayer), and telling Him of your love for Him (worship).

It is important to be aware that you have a jilted lover, who will never give up in his attempt to win you back. He will attempt to distract you, interrupt you, and lure you with innocent looking, and very appealing options. His name is Satan. You don't need to fear Him because Jesus, your Groom, will protect you as you call on Him to do so. However, Jesus will allow the evil one to bother you because Jesus wants to test your loyalty to Him.

Your daily date
A suggested prayer might be: "Jesus, I love you. Teach me today how I can love you more."

Read the suggested Scripture for the day. Imagine yourself to be right beside Jesus; listening and learning from Him. Journal a sentence or two (or more) about what happens in the narrative of your reading. Write down what you think Jesus is saying to you from these verses.

Sing a love song.

Other suggestions for these 40 days

heart bullet Pray for God's direction, then plan the Fast that you sense God is directing you to. Read over the suggestions on the topic of Fasting.

heart bullet Watch "The Passion of Christ". As you watch the struggle of Jesus in the Garden, remind yourself He is so committed to you, He is willing to face the cross to free you from the kingdom of Satan. "For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom." Colossians 1:13-14 NLT


Fasting

"And now about prayer . . . And when you fast . . ." Matthew 6:5, 16 Living

What is Fasting?

Fasting is a form of self denial for the sake of Jesus and His Kingdom. It is a deliberate withdrawal for a time, to devote oneself to more fellowship with God. It is a spiritual discipline that increases awareness of God and His purposes.

"Fasting helps to express to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the Kingdom of God." Andrew Murray

Fasting is Not: It is not a diet. It doesn't always mean food, but usually involves some food.

There must be a spiritual purpose for Biblical fasting.

Diligently start each day with prayer.
1. Ask Father for the protective clothing: You are intentionally going into a war zone!
2. Tell Father you want to honor Him and glorify His name in your fast. Ask Him to keep alive the intentions to fast that you have created. Confess you can do this only with the strength and energy He supplies. (1 Peter 4:11) Suggestion: Pray the Lord's Prayer, paraphrasing it to fit the fast you are committed to.

Spend specific time daily in personal worship.

Increase the amount of time you spend in reading the Scripture.
Consider spending time in Romans, Isaiah, James, and I Peter.
As the Holy Spirit convicts you of your own sin, confess and repent.

Spend time studying Isaiah 58.
Look for conditions of fasting. Journal promises you find.

Journal
Keep a fasting journal. Record what the Holy Spirit has said to you from Scripture, what Father has said to you in prayer.

Be prepared for temptation
Remember, the tempter began with food, in a perfect place. (Genesis 3)
1. Speaking out loud to Father, tell Him "Lord, I am being tempted to eat . . . (fill in). I want to honor You. Fill my hunger with You."
2. Write verses that mention hunger, food, thirst, or eating. Rewrite into a prayer. Example: “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food." Isaiah 55:1-2 NLT
The verses written as a prayer: "Lord, I am thirsty. I am thirsty for You, for Your presence in my life. Increase my hunger for You. I don't want to spend my time and money on food that doesn't give me strength. Turn my eyes away from food that does me no good. Thank You for that You are food for my soul. Thank You for being my Bread of Life." Psalm 63:1-8 is already written as a prayer, a wonderful "fasting" Scripture to read.

Planning Your Fast
Before fasting, ask God to reveal purpose, what to fast from, and length of time. Take some time to record your thinking process. Use the following questions to guide you.
List the reasons why you plan to fast. Put them in the order of importance.
What do you want to accomplish with this fast, that is, what is your cause?

My Commitment

What is my purpose in fasting?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________
What is my Biblical basis?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________
What fast will I choose? (What will I be fasting from?)

_____________________________________________________________________________________________
What will I delete from my schedule in order to make more time to participate in this fast?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________
God being my strength, and grace being my basis, I commit myself to the above fast.

                                                                                                _____________________________________________
                                                                                                                                  signed/Date

(Suggestions from this page are from The Beginner's Guide to Fasting by Elmer Towns.)


Recommended Books
A Hunger for God, by John Piper
Beginners Guide to Fasting, by Elmer Towns
The Daniel Fast for Spiritual Breakthrough, by Elmer Towns
Nutrition and Health in the Bible, by Kathleen O'Bannon, Larry Richards
17 pages of food sources for various nutrients, 32 pages of great recipes, 57 pages covers the Mediterranean diet. Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast, by Kristen Feola

Recommended CDs
Worship, Michael W. Smith
Worship Again, Michael W. Smith
Heart of Worship I, Bonnie Knopf
Heart of Worship II, Bonnie Knopf
(Bonnie's music can be purchased or listened to online at www.bonnieknopf.com)
The Ultimate Collection: John Michael Talbot, John Michael Talbot

Each time you purchase a resource from Christian Book Distributors, Heart of America Ministry Women will receive 10% of the discounted price. You must link to CBD from our website. www.HAMW.org

Feel free to copy this information, giving credit to the source. Thank you.
Marjorie Truesdale - www.HAMW.org - (913)642-2919

Highlights from "A Hunger for God" by John Piper


1. Christian fasting is a test to see what desires control us. (p. 19)
2. The danger of eating is that we fall in love with the gift. The danger of fasting is that we belittle the gift and glory in our willpower. (p. 21)
3. The aim of fasting is that we come to rely less on food and more on God. (p. 58)
4. We come to God out of weakness to express to Him our need and our great longing that He would manifest Himself more fully in our lives for the joy of our soul and the glory of His nature. (p. 77)
5. Fasting is a physical expression of heart-hunger for the coming of Jesus. (p. 83)
6. Hunger for God is spiritual. We are less sensitive to spiritual appetites when we are in the bondage of physical ones. (p. 90)
7. "We hunger for You, O God, to come in power." It's a cry with our body, not just our soul: "I really mean it, Lord! This much, I hunger for you. I want the manifestation of yourself more than I want food." (p. 110)
8. No worship, no preaching, no singing, no praying, no fasting, however intense or beautiful. . . that leaves us contentious with our spouses or self-indulgent in other areas of our lives, or angry enough to hit somebody, is true, God-pleasing worship. (p. 135)
9. The only authentic fasting is fasting that includes a spiritual attack against our own sin. (p. 135)
10. If there is an unresolved pocket of sin in our life. . . God is going to come to us and say "The fast I choose is for that sin to be starved to death." (p. 136)
11. When God tells people what to do, this is not a job description, but a doctor's prescription. He is not telling us to earn wages by laboring for a boss, but to get well by trusting our physician. Isaiah 58:6-12 (p. 140)
12. Fasting is meant to awaken us to the hunger of the world, not just our own hunger. (p. 143)
13. Prayer is not for the enhancement of our comforts but for the advancement of Christ's Kingdom. (p. 150)
14. The guidance of God is not meant for the bright paths of the garden of ease, but for the dark places of pain where we have few answers and paths have never been cut. (p. 151)
15. Ours is not to predict what the city or the church or the family or society might look like. Ours is to trust and obey. (p. 153)
16. It is our duty and delight to choose obedience hour by hour. (p. 177)
17. God promises water and wine and milk and life that money cannot buy precisely to those who have no money, but only thirst, if they will turn away from what money can buy and come to Him. (p. 178)
18. God rewards acts that confess human helplessness and that express hope in God, because these acts call attention to His glory. (p. 180)


Special Lenten Readings



The Sermon on the Mount is sometimes referred to as The Constitution of The Kingdom. It is foundational for us as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Read the suggested Scripture for the day. Imagine yourself to be right beside Jesus; listening and learning from Him. Journal a sentence or more about what happens in the narrative of your reading. Write down what you think Jesus is saying to you from these verses.


Day 1 - Luke 10:38-42
Day 2 - Matthew 5:1-12     The Beatitudes
Day 3 - Matthew 5:13-16     We Are Salt And Light
Day 4 - Matthew 5:17-20     What Do We Obey?
Day 5 - Matthew 5:21-26     Relationships With Others
Day 6 - Matthew 5:27-32     Jesus Teaches About Divorce
            (It is important that you read 1 John 1:9 if you have experienced a divorce.)
Day 7 - Matthew 5:33-37     Keeping Our Word
Day 8 - Matthew 5:38-42     Getting Revenge or Giving Love?
Day 9 - Matthew 5:43-48     Love For Enemies
            (A good time to review 1 Corinthians 13, Jesus in me.)
Day 10 - Matthew 6:1-4     Giving To The Needy
Day 11 - Matthew 6:5-18     Prayer And Fasting
Day 12 - Matthew 6:19-24     Who Am I Serving?
Day 13 - Matthew 6:25-34     Do Not Worry
Day 14 - Matthew 7:1-6     Judging Others
Day 15 - Matthew 7:7-12     Prayer
Day 16 - Matthew 7:13-14     The Way To God's Kingdom
Day 17 - Matthew 7:15-20     A Tree And Its Fruit
Day 18 - Matthew 7:21-23     True Disciples
Day 19 - Matthew 7:24-28     The True Foundation

You did it! You read the whole Sermon on the Mount. Jesus gives so much instruction and it might seem impossible to come up to His standard. Keep asking Him to teach you. On Day 21, He gives a promise.

Day 20 - John 14:1-14     The Way To The Father
Day 21 - John 14:15-31     Jesus Promises The Holy Spirit
              (Count the times Jesus says the word "obey." Also, note the way the Holy Spirit will help us.)
Day 22 - John 15:1-17     The True Vine
Day 23 - John 15-18-27     The World's Hate
Day 24 - John 16:1-15     The Promise Of The Holy Spirit
Day 25 - John 16:16-33     Jesus Gives Hope
Day 26 - John 17:1-26     Jesus Talks To His Father
Day 27 - John 18:1-14     Jesus Is Arrested
Day 28 - John 18:15-27     Peter Denies Jesus
Day 29 - John 18:28-40     Jesus' Trial
Day 30 - John 19:1-16     Jesus Is Sentenced
Day 31 - John 19: 17-27     The Crucifixion
              (From this point in our reading, attempt to see the events from the eyes of Mary Magdalene, feeling her
              sorrow and pain.)
Day 32 - John 19:28-37     The Death Of Jesus
Day 33 - John 19:38-42     The Burial Of Jesus
Day 34 - John 20:1-18     The Resurrection
              (Again, journal the emotions through the eyes of Mary Magdalene)
Day 35 - Luke 24:13-34     The Walk To Emmaus
Day 36 - Luke 24:35-49     Jesus Appears To His followers
Day 37 - John 20:19-31     Jesus Appears Again
Day 38 - John 21:1-14     Breakfast With Jesus
Day 39 - John 21:15-25     Jesus Challenges Peter
Day 40 - Luke 24:50-53 and Revelation 19:5-10     Jesus Goes To Heaven, Where He Waits For Us