Last week I started a series to walk through three practices that prepare us for Christmas love in the midst of hard moments. If you missed it, you can read Part 1 here.
Practice #2– Fast & Pray
Last January, I started preparing our moms for new traditions this year. Barry and I have an empty nest now, and our siblings have grown children too. As the family grows and ages, it’s harder and harder to get everyone together. I’ll bet lots you you have experienced this!
In September, my wonderful M-I-L, Barbara, reached out to discuss Thanksgiving plans, and I carefully pitched a new schedule to her. “How would you feel about having Thanksgiving at my house this year?” I asked gently. She’s been the hostess with the mostess for all our married years, and I thought she might be sad about giving it up.
You can imagine my delight and surprise when she said, “Sure! I have some people I’d like to include. Is that ok with you?”
(Note: Don’t make assumptions about other people’s reactions. I think Barbara might have been waiting for me to step up for years. Lol!)
I was excited about having 13 people coming to dinner in our little house, but I was apprehensive too. That was going to be a lot of strong personalities, varying opinions, and conflicting political views in one place. We were going to literally have too many cooks in my one-butt kitchen!
Thankfully, I had been studying Esther, so I had her practices to prepare. When Esther finally saw the necessity of her risk in saving her people in chapter 4, she sent this reply to Mordecai, “’Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’” (Esther 4:15-16 NIV)
Esther gives us three practices to prepare for potentially perilous interactions:
- Gather like-minded people. Esther didn’t try to face her trial alone. Instead, she relied on her community. When we’re facing something difficult, let’s share with others who will pray with us instead of going solo.
- Fast. Fasting to seek direction or power is an often-overlooked tool that God has given us. Although prayer isn’t mentioned here, prayer and fasting are almost always coupled in Scripture. Make sure to choose a day now with no parties so that you can set yourself up to finish your fast, whatever the length that you’ve prayerfully chosen.
- Pre-decide your outcome. “You can’t control anyone else. You can only control yourself,” is frequently repeated because it’s oh so true. On Thanksgiving Day, Barry and I prayed that we would walk in the Spirit, not our own flesh. I prayed that I would be unoffendable since I can tend toward overly-sensitive. We asked God to let love cover a multitude of sins. (I Peter 4:8) We prayed that all of the believers in the house would operate in the gifts of the Spirit. It was powerful for me to acknowledge my weaknesses before God and to pre-decide that I would walk in His power that day.
Practice in the Moment
With preparation, we lessen the need to work in the moment or to struggle to contain ourselves. One blessing of following God and surrendering our will to His is the ability to move peacefully in the Spirit even in difficult situations.
I’ve even shocked myself by typing that paragraph. I’m such a do-er. I’m still such a reforming-perfectionist, but I’m learning that the work is the Lord’s. Taking steps of preparation helps me to move in His endless power instead of the limits of my own.
What kind of heart-prep will you do this week? Will you join me in choosing a day between now and Christmas to fast for love to flow in our gatherings? Let me know so that I can be praying for you.
Let’s Connect in 2023
Let’s Study Together
Beginning January 9th, Lynn Cowell and I will be leading an online study of our new book, Esther: Seeing Our Invisible God in an Uncertain World. We’re going to be diving deep. Simply.
Each week we’ll send a link for a Zoom meeting on Wednesday evenings where Lynn and I will do a bonus teaching from that week’s passage. Then, we’ll discuss as a community. We’ll keep it simple but rich!
To sign up, simply enter your email address at the top of this page, and then purchase the study from your favorite book seller. The links are all there to make it easy, and we hope you’ll join us!
Let’s Travel Together
Our early-bird discount– an astonishing $700 off– for traveling to Italy Sept. 21-28 ENDS TODAY. Don’t put off the decision one more minute. Hurry over and register here!