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Prayer and Fasting for our Nation and Election

posted Oct 25, 2012, 8:44 PM by Will McQueen

One of the items discussed at our most recent vestry meeting was the fervent need of all Christian people to pray for our country and our leaders.  One of the ways that we will be doing that is a joint service of Noonday Prayer with Trinity Baptist Church on Election Day, November 6.  


One of the ancient practices of both Judaism and Christianity is the notion of fasting.  The Prophet Joel speaks to the Israelites in this fashion, “Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly.  Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God and cry out to the LORD” (Joel 1:14).  The people were in the midst of great trials and tribulations for turning away from God and not seeking Him, and thus God sent a prophet to speak on His behalf, calling them back to seek repentance, forgiveness, and amendment of life.  In II Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat received word that Judah’s enemies were gathering to attack.  “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah (II Chron. 20:3). 


As a nation, we need a Joel or a Jehoshaphat to call us collectively to fast, and pray, and seek God’s face once again.  We do this not to seek God’s favor, but simply, to seek God!  There is a tremendous difference between the two.  The former is a natural by-product of the latter.  When we begin to conform to God’s will for the sake of conforming out of love, He blesses us in ways that we cannot fathom or understand.  If we seek God only because we wish to have Him bless us, or because of what we might gain, we have ceased seeing God for who He is and have now created an idol that we seek to manipulate for our own selfish gains.


One of the most personal ways to seek God more fully is to set aside times to fast and pray.  Fasting is not simply giving up food for a day.  It is the spiritual discipline of intentionally reducing both the quantity and quality of the food we eat for a set period of time.  The most common fast for one 24-hour period would be a very simple breakfast of perhaps toast and juice, preferably before sunrise, if possible.  During the day it is best to try to consume only liquids.  If for health reasons this is impossible, a small snack at mid-day is permissible.  The fast would be broken after sundown with a modest dinner meal.  You will most likely feel hunger pangs during the day.  When those pangs come, they are intended to call to our minds what we are doing and why.  They are opportunities for us to recommit ourselves to prayer, contemplation, and meditation on the things of God.  It’s a way for us to cultivate the practice of “praying without ceasing,” as St. Paul exhorted the Church in Thessalonica (cf. I Thes. 5:17). 


The vestry and I have committed to setting aside Friday, November 2, as a day of prayer and fasting.  For those who are able, we will gather for Morning Prayer at Trinity Baptist at 7:00 a.m.  If the weather is nice that morning, I would propose gathering just outside the front doors, not to draw attention to ourselves, but simply to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.  This date happens to coincide with the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day), in which we remember all those who have gone before us, committing their souls to the care and mercy of Almighty God. 


I hope that you will all commit to prayer and fasting for our nation.  Our Founding Fathers knew the great danger one faced in daring to forge a new nation devoid of God, and the biblical principal of good and evil.  In this day and age, we are daring to do just that, and we must be a people committed to prayer that God will guide, guard, and direct us each and every day of our lives.