I’d like to invite you to join our church family in fasting and prayer in this Lent season. Beginning March 8, 2022, each Tuesday between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, we are going to replace one or more of our routines of breakfast, lunch, and dinner with prayer and scripture. We are going to pray for God to receive glory among us this Easter. I also want you to pray He pours out His Spirit in a way that leaves us in awe this Easter. One of our church values is, “We expect God to change a life today.” One simple prayer I am praying is that the Lord would bring 200 first-time guests who do not know Christ to our Easter worship services. Will you join me in that prayer? It’s just a number, but it represents so many in our lives who need to hear and respond to the gospel! I believe by us praying in faith for people we know, by name, the Lord is going to answer our prayer. And who knows what He will do among us that day and in the weeks of follow-up we have with those who came with us to hear the good news! I am joining with you in great expectation for how the Lord will use this season for our church.
– Pastor Spence
What is Lent?
In Matthew chapter 4, Jesus heads into the wilderness where he is tempted by the devil. While in the wilderness, Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights. What unfolds in the rest of this account is a beautiful picture of Jesus resisting the temptation of Satan – a foreshadowing of what takes place at the end of the book of Matthew when Jesus raises from the grave and conquers not only Satan but also sin and death.
Lent began in the early church as a way to imitate Jesus’ fasting and the start of his public ministry. Formalized in the year 325 at the Council of Nicaea, Lent is traditionally a 40-day fast (excluding Sundays) which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. The primary reason for this 40 day fast was to remember the suffering Christ went through not only in the wilderness as he abstained from food and drink, but also on the cross when he gave up his very body for the salvation of sinners. This penance would stir up and prepare the heart of the believer for the wonderful celebration of Easter Sunday, a day when the church remembers that Jesus rose from the dead and guaranteed that all who are in Christ would one day feast with him in the new heavens and new earth!
As time has passed, many churches have moved away from observing Lent, though it remains a common practice in some denominations of Christianity. There are good reasons why some have moved away from the practice, as it has become a source of religious rule-following and shame in some churches. However, despite the checkered history of Lent, the timeless truths of this fasting season remain — We have a perfect Savior who suffered in our place so that we could be made right with God, and Lent provides us the opportunity to not only know about that suffering but to get a taste of that suffering through the act of fasting. So, with the gospel at the center, I want to call us to observe this season together. Lent is a wonderful time for believers to grow in their affection for the Lord and their excitement for the coming Easter Sunday and I’m excited to see what this produces in you as the people of Mercy Church.
You may be thinking, “Does God really want me to not eat for 40 Days?!” For many of us, fasting may seem like a big, unattainable goal for only the spiritually elite. However, when we look to scripture we find a different story – one that focuses more on the greatness of God than the meal we might be passing up. Fasting should always be done purposefully. Fasting without purpose leaves us with only the hunger pangs of skipping a meal. Fasting with purpose turns our hearts towards God as our hunger pangs call us to dependently look to God to sustain and lead us. Lent is a great time for us to purposefully remember the willing sacrifice of Christ on the cross and his resurrection through a time of prayer and fasting.
Fasting should always be done purposefully. Fasting without purpose leaves us with only the hunger pangs of skipping a meal. Fasting with purpose turns our hearts towards God as our hunger pangs call us to dependently look to God to sustain and lead us.
How to Pray
As you replace meals with scripture and prayer, consider joining our church family in praying for the following:
- Nothing will stop a movement of God within Mercy Church like unrepentant sin. Pray for the Spirit to reveal and convict you of any sin in your life. Spend time repenting.
- Consider the Lord’s response to Achan’s sin in Joshua 7.
- Just as the Lord always has a “next step” for us personally, he has surely determined “next steps” for trusting him and moving forward in faith as a church family as well. Specifically, will you pray for the Lord to show us where he’s leading in our facility needs? Pray for provision as we pursue ministry in Union County, pray for wisdom in what next steps we should take to expand capacity at our Providence Road campus, and pray for our Northeast campus as we consider the next steps for this growing campus!
- Isaiah 54:2 – “Enlarge the site of your tent, and let your tent curtains be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your ropes, and drive your pegs deep.”
- Pray that the Lord would save. As we prepare our hearts for Easter, pray that we would witness the Lord bring people to saving faith in Christ. Pray for your lost friends.
- 1 Timothy 2:3-4 – “This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”