Here in Cor Unum Abbey, we are suiting up for our first 40-day fast of the year. We happened to realize that there are exactly 40 days from January 20, Inauguration Day, to the start of Lent, March 1st this year, so it looks like we will be 80 days in fasting mode, and we are pretty excited about it!
We are quick to make clear … a fast for us is not necessarily a matter of food deprivation. Each of us seeks the Lord, asks what would be most beneficial or effective, and we make our commitment. We have been known to fast television, griping and complaining, one meal per day, two meals each day, book reading, ingratitude, coffee, desserts, and recreational shopping! … whatever the Lord puts on our hearts, individually, that we do.
This will be for us a Battle Maiden fast. We have long been asking the questions that others are asking:
“What has happened to us in America?”
“Why is there tragedy and loss in nearly every family?”
“Why are we so divided?”
“Where are the leaders, the shepherds and the evangelists of old, speaking wisdom and teaching peace?”
“What can we possibly do? How much difference can we make in this dark hour?”
“What is our role? Is it dangerous?”
At this time, we are corporately done with lamenting questions. We spent the holidays asking for answers enough to get us started. For instance, when the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast out the devil from the tormented boy in Matthew 17, He told them it was because of their little faith, and then comes the verse that most versions of the Bible say was not found in the earliest manuscripts: “However, this kind goeth not forth but by fasting and prayer.” For too long have we asked, “Did You really say that? Why is it not included in the early manuscripts? Is that valid?” “Does that mean, fast for more faith or to cast out the devil?”
Now we are saying, if those that oppress the ones for whom we pray are still oppressing, we will fast. Our understanding does not have to be perfect at the outset. That verse does not have to be part of the canon of Scripture for us to know we that we must take part in seeing those around us set free from sin and torment. It is easy to ask the theological questions and miss the thousand other instructions that bid us watch and pray and fast and war until our enemies turn back and take flight. (Psalm 18:37-40)
I do not say that there will not be answers along the way; we know that answers will be provided as we need them, but more to the point, we already know what to do, at least enough to make a start. We already know a few things, at least a handful of things, to ask of God, and so we shall ask, in faith, believing.
May those we love and those for whom we pray be delivered from every evil work. (1 John 3:8)
May they be given grace to rise up and shake off the dust and remove the shackles that have kept them in bondage. (Isaiah 52:2)
May they, and may we, be quick to repent and quick to forgive, for the sake of our souls. (1 John 1:9)
May God be glorified in His Church and in our families, as we begin to fight the good fight of faith. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
It should be easy not to be overwhelmed by the corruption and upheaval around us; it is there already, we have long been living with it. We have given it our attention, and now we turn our attention. Any activity is rousing in comparison with the grousing and finger-pointings that have only made matters worse. Now we will lift up our eyes to the hills. That’s where our help comes from.
We are going to pray for this new administration, as we prayed for the last one. We see the shaking and turbulence, but we also see great opportunities regarding an end to abortion, the restoration of our national conscience, and a renewal of American friendship with Israel, which we in Cor Unum consider to be vitally important in the affairs of men.
We are going to single out a small number of families or individuals whose lives seem torn and poisoned nearly beyond repair … like our nation. The Lord Jesus Christ said that we would tread upon lions and scorpions and have power over all the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19 and Psalm 91:13) We say then that those we have been given to love are not meant to be torn and poisoned. Tempted at times, yes, and suffer tribulation and persecution, guaranteed, but torn and poisoned – no.
“And nothing will injure us.” That we say, not with any degree of cocky self-assurance or fist-shaking at the devil, but if we will believe the one, we will also believe the other, for these words are also to be found in Luke 10:19. Thanks be to God.
Photo of a quarter dollar, Wikipedia
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