A prayer vigil can be a communal lament, an act of solidarity, or a time to bring light to brokenness or the distress of a community. As an act of public witness, it offers the community a way to connect with God so that God’s vision for healing our community and world might be accomplished. If we ever needed a community focus, it is now.
Andover’s first prayer vigil Kicked off March 26th. 23 souls combined hearts and prayers and voices in the effort to pray for our community, the front line folks, our health, healing for those we love. We lifted up our worries and concerns of resources and finances and laid all of this at the feet of God in a continuous stream of prayer.
We will be repeating the Vigil this week…this time from 8am to 6pm. Hoping for everyone to continue, and others to join in…..To be brief you are signing up for a 1/2 hour block—an hour if you feel led to so.
The signup and prayer Guide is below. The prayer guide will be activated Wednesday evening….Know that if you cannot do one of these times you are welcome to pray at another time/day. The importance of signing up is only to assure all times are covered and give knowledge of “prayer partners.” Please let us know what is helpful in terms of times, days.
Why continue to Pray?
We are told to “pray without ceasing,” but what does continual prayer do? Many benefits are cited such as: growing our relationship with God, helping to accomplish God’s work, keeping us humble. Additionally, it fulfills our emotional needs. C.S. Lewis said, “God designed the human machine to run on Himself.” That is a capital “H.” Not us, but HIM.
I think one source jarred me with the concept that prayer is valuable to GOD. Psalms referred to prayer as incense and in Revelation 5, John invokes the imagery at the end of times of four living creatures and 24 elders falling down before the Lamb…with golden bowls full of incense “which are the prayers of the saints.” Translation: Incense in heaven=prayer. He could have chosen anything as His preference (tithing, evangelism, scripture study or service). All those he assuredly values but it is prayer he chose as the incense. It makes me rethink that if He values prayer so much, shouldn’t I?
We also want to pray specifically. For specific things, in unison. After all, we are assured, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
Should I Fast anytime during the day of the Prayer Vigil?
Fasting has been a part of Judeo-Christian tradition for centuries—Millenia in fact. In old testament times, it was used for mourning and national repentance, when strength was needed to persevere, or when God’s will was sought. Somehow in recent times, it has been almost disregarded.
Per Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline fasting is one of the disciplines or “graces” that lead to spiritual growth. At its simplest, fasting is an opportunity to be one with God—our eye fixed on Him. It must center on God. It must focus on the blesser not the Blessings of fasting. It should be God-initiated. Moses, David, Elijah, and Paul fasted as did Jesus. John Wesley fasted. He stated “When you fast…” which implies a presumption people will fast. Usually, it is a private matter and can and should be kept so. Fasting is something fixed in our hearts…it reveals the things that control us. It is a chance to lay down an appetite—for food, media, shopping, sports or computer. We begin to recognize what controls us. We set aside a little comfort “to attend to the voice of God alone.” Foster states that fasting reminds us that we are sustained “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4).
Fasting is a declaration of intention (this is so important to us), it intensifies our urgency, provides extra time to pray (we would have used for cooking and eating), and opens us up to God’s guidance. Most importantly in a group fast— it builds solidarity with the suffering of a community.
Fasting is also a very personal choice—and one that should not be undertaken with a consultation with your care provider. Folks with medical conditions may be prohibited from food fasting but one can fast from anything that controls you such as TV, social media, a hobby, alcohol, even from certain meats. Perhaps if not skipping a meal, it is just a time to explore fasting. One of the means of grace that really enhances prayer.
We will repeat the process every Thursday until further notice. We may have a slightly different focus each week depending on what circumstances unfold!
Andover Worship Team Lead