“So when you give to the needy…
And when you pray…
And when you fast…”
Matthew 6:2, 5 & 16
Each year these words lead us into Lent, calling us to realign our spiritual practices (fasting, prayer, corporate acts of repentance and giving to help the poor and the needy) with their intended purposes.
Lent is a time of humbling ourselves and in an inspiring and challenging sermon a few weeks ago, one of our local preachers called on us all, ministers, leaders and members of AMC to humble ourselves before God and to confess our sin to God, particularly pride and arrogance that might have tainted our witness. I encourage you to listen to the sermon (at http://www.amc.org.za/?page_id=357 or contact the church office for a CD copy) in order to hear the message in its context.
Pride and arrogance are the primary cause of all sin, and so I want to encourage us as members of AMC in our personal prayers of confession over Lent to ask God’s Holy Spirit to convict us personally, but also corporately as the Body of Christ. Prayer of this sort will certainly humble us, and coupled with fasting, will bring great blessing. Fasting is a common way of humbling ourselves before our Lord and I would encourage us as a congregation to engage in this discipline over Lent. Perhaps consider a partial fast over the full 40 day period or perhaps a complete fast from food one day a week during Lent. Please refer to my webpage http://dentalmethodist.blogspot.com/2011/10/sermon-on-mount-9-fasting.html for advice and tips on various types of fasting, or contact the church office for a printed copy.
So, Lent is a time of humbling ourselves, a time of fasting, and also a time of concentrated prayer.
I have received a beautiful prayer for Community Blessing from someone who recently traveled to Wales where it originated. You can visit http://www.streetpastors.co.uk/Portals/0/Street%20Pastors/In%20Use/documents/%20prayer/PrayingBlessings.pdf for more info on this prayer and praying blessings in general. An adaptation of the prayer will be available in our Info Stand and it will also be the focus of many of our prayers of intercession during Lent. I think there is something quite beautiful about a church praying blessings upon and into its community, and as part of our Lenten prayer commitment I encourage us all to use this prayer in our private prayer life…..who knows how God might choose to use our faithfulness? Please know that your AMC leaders (the folk who make up our Leaders’ Meeting) are committed to leading the way in terms of adopting these practices in our lives over Lent.
Lent is also a time of focused giving to the poor and needy and I encourage you to find some poor and needy folk (on our streets or through AMCARE) and care for them in some special way this Lenten Season.
Jesus calls us to give, to pray and to fast…May the Spirit of God lead us as individuals and as a community of Christ’s disciples to humble ourselves through giving, prayer and fasting this Lenten season and my prayer is that Lent 2013 will be a time of great blessing and spiritual growth for us all.