JOIN US FOR WEDNESDAY PRAYER LUNCHEONS
As we prioritize prayer for our church, you are warmly invited to join the staff and other Hillsiders on the first Wednesday of every month - from 12:00-1:00pm for a time of worship and prayer. It can also be a “Day of Fasting” for those who want to fast breakfast on Wednesday or want to fast for 24 hours (Noon to Noon), and then break the fast on Wednesday at Noon.
A light lunch of soup and biscuits will be provided at 12:00PM sharp, but feel free to come a few minutes early to mingle. This will be followed by a time of worship to set our minds and hearts upon the Lord and then a focused time of prayer in table groups. We would love for you to attend!
The meal is complimentary; however, please sign up here so that we can adequately prepare.
“21 Days of Prayer and Fasting” is meant to be a beginning to launch us into a growing relationship with God throughout 2024. So, what’s next? Well, to encourage you going forward, here are some practical “Day 22” resources. As with most activities in life whether going on a trip, making a meal or engaging in a workout, it’s always more meaningful when you have a plan. In other words, preparation is key.
The same is true when it comes to having a meaningful quiet time. Preparation matters. It’s so important that you prepare in advance by choosing a reading plan and scheduling time in your day to slow down, breathe, relax in God’s presence, read a portion of Scripture, reflect, and take time to pray. And, for even more spiritual enrichment, there are other resources listed below that can take you deeper in the adventure of enjoying greater intimacy with God. Be sure to check them out below.
DAILY BIBLE READING PLANS
Tip: Choose a plan that works for you. The goal isn’t to rush through Scripture, but to slowly read a portion each day until something speaks to you. When that happens (it could after reading a verse, a few verses, or a chapter or more) then stop, reflect, write down a key thought, pray, and act upon whatever the Lord has revealed to you. Typically, a good place to start is to focus on one book of the Bible and take your time reading through it, giving the Holy Spirit some time and space to speak to you.
3 Books On Prayer Recommended By Pastor Jerry To Get Started. (Limited quantities available for purchase in the lobby.)
- Pete Greig, “How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People”
- Richard Foster, “Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home”
- Chris Hodges, “Pray First”
Plus 7 Other Books On Prayer/Spiritual Formation To Round Out A Top 10 List
- John Mark Comer, “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World”
- Tim Keller, “Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God”
- Dallas Willard, “Hearing God”
- Ruth Haley Barton, “Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation”
- Gary Thomas, “Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God”
- Bill & Kristi Gaultiere, “Journey of the Soul: A Practical Guide to Emotional & Spiritual Growth”
- Pete Scazzero, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to be Spiritually Mature While Remaining Emotionally Immature”
Helpful Websites On Prayer & Spiritual Disciplines
Subscribe to Pastor Kevin’s daily devotional called “Renew”. By signing up HERE, you’ll get a daily devotion in your inbox every day. Pastor Kevin has offered this daily devotional for years and we’re so grateful he’s now making it available to our Hillside Family.
Welcome to Hillside’s 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting for 2024, taking place from January 15-February 4. We are grateful for your participation and expectant to see what God will do in and through us, as we intentionally seek Him through Scripture, prayer and fasting. We want to encourage you to slow down, breathe, and prioritize this time set apart to focus on God and His Kingdom. We can’t wait to see what God will do in this season of our church, our 50th anniversary year!
Each week from Monday-Friday, we will provide you with a portion of Scripture to read and reflect upon. Using the model of Jesus from Matthew 6, we will focus on a specific spiritual practice each week – Week 1, fasting; Week 2, praying; and Week 3, giving. As you get started, be sure to have handy your Bible, pen, notepad/journal/notes app on your phone, and this Guide. During your daily reading and time with God, we recommend you use the acronym “S.O.A.P.” that is outlined below.
Scripture: Read slowly and thoughtfully through the passage. Pick a verse or word that stood out to you and record it in your notepad/journal.
Observation: Write some observations from these verses. What is this passage saying? What does it reveal about God? About people? How is God revealed in this passage?
Application: Write a few sentences about how the verses apply to your life. Is there a truth about God that you want to focus on? Is there a promise to receive and thank God for? Is the Holy Spirit convicting you of something you need to do, or stop doing, in light of God’s truth?
Prayer: Write out or say a prayer in response to this Scripture. This is a way to turn God’s word to you back to Him. Be honest and express your heart to Him.
“The way Jesus lived is a perfect model for the way we are called to live today. Jesus took time to savour the good gifts of life and to give thanks. When it comes to cultivating a heart of gratitude, it’s important to make this habit of thanksgiving a ritual. A thanksgiving ritual can train our spirits to be grateful in all circumstances.” Ken Shigematsu
Each day, take a moment to reflect and write down something that you are grateful for. A thankful person acknowledges God as the source of every provision and blessing. Gratitude produces deep, abiding joy because we know that God is working in us, even through times of difficulty.
SATURDAY | January 20, 27, Feb. 3
As you reflect on the past week, spend time in silence asking these questions:
What stood out to me the most this week?
Is there a consistent theme I noticed?
How have I experienced God this week?
What have I been praying for and have I received an answer to any of these prayers?
Is there anything I should confess or bring before God?
SUNDAY SERVICE REFLECTION | January 21, 28, Feb. 4
Questions for reflection after Sunday’s service:
Hear: What is God saying to me?
Obey: What is He asking me to do?
When do I share this, and with whom?
“How Can I Make The Most Of 21 Days of Prayer?”
Growth rarely happens without commitment. This is true for any endeavor, activity, or discipline in life. Thus, to make the most of 21 Days of Prayer, you’re encouraged to make these 2 commitments.
First, commit to a daily quiet time with God. Find a time that works best for your day. Maybe the best time is in the morning, or before you go to bed, or during a break sometime during the day at work or school. Make an appointment with God and do your best to keep it. Also, be sure to use our 21 Days Devotional Guide that has been designed to help you make the most of this daily time with the Lord.
Your prayer place should be an undistracted environment where you can pray and focus. Perhaps that is in your favorite chair, at your kitchen table, in your vehicle, or somewhere at work – whatever space you can find that is uninterrupted, quiet space for you to spend time with God.
Second, commit not only to praying, but also to try fasting. The discipline of fasting is a vital spiritual practice modelled by Jesus and many others throughout the Bible. Yet, it has often been significantly overlooked by believers today. This is unfortunate! Realizing many aren’t familiar with the biblical practice of fasting, we are providing more information below to help you get started.
“Why Is Prayer So Important?”
At its very core, prayer is simply paying attention to God. As we grow in our love for God, we want to spend more time with Him, making him a greater priority in our daily lives. In addition to communing with God, Scripture teaches us that prayer has many other benefits as it also releases God’s wisdom, peace, strength, and supernatural help into our lives. That’s why, for these and many other reasons, prayer should be our first priority, not our last resort. And, as a church, we see a passion for prayer was very evident in the early church. Here’s a sampling of just a few verses from the New Testament to encourage and envision us: Acts 12:5, “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him”. Col. 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful”. Rom. 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”. Phil. 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.
“What Is A Quiet Time?”
A quiet time can take many forms, but at its simplest it means stopping, pausing to pray, and being in a posture where you’re seeking to listen and hear from God. This unhurried time alone with God (“Be still and know that I am God” Ps. 46:10) can last a few minutes or for longer periods of time. Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:6 capture the essence of it: “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace”.
There is no fixed way to have a quiet time. Typically, it involves Bible reading, reflection, and prayer. Also, having a notebook or journal to write down thoughts and prayer requests is often very helpful. You can pray silently while sitting. Or, depending on your personality, you may find that praying out loud while walking is an engaging approach for you that helps you concentrate on God better. The key is not to be rushed, distracted, or ritualistic about it.
“If we don’t maintain a quiet time each day, it’s not really because we are too busy; it’s because we do not feel it is important enough… Late nights kill the quiet time… Quiet time is not just a helpful idea, it is absolutely necessary to spiritual growth.” George Sweeting
“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man (person) is powerful on his knees.” Corrie ten Boom
Biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. Our primary focus in fasting is to fix our eyes on Jesus and to listen to hear the voice and direction of God. It is vitally important for us to pay attention to our motives behind the commitment we’ve made to ensure that we’re fasting for the right reasons. We fast not for recognition or spiritual pride. Rather, we fast to draw closer to the Lord and to fervently intercede for ourselves and others. We also fast to help us remember we are dependent on God more than anything and are obedient to God above our appetites and desires. Fasting was a common spiritual practice in the Bible as seen in the life of Moses, Daniel, Esther, Job, Nehemiah, Anna, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul among others. It was also practiced by God’s people both in the Old Testament and by the early church in the New Testament.
“The discipline of fasting can focus our prayers in the way that a magnifying glass can focus sunlight to start a fire.” Pete Greig
“Fasting is an opportunity to lay down an appetite – an appetite for food, for media, for shopping. This act of self-denial may not seem huge – it’s just a meal or a trip to the mall – but it brings us face to face with the hunger at the core of our being. Fasting exposes how we try to keep empty hunger at bay and gain a sense of well-being by devouring creature comforts. Through self-denial we begin to recognise what controls us. Our small denials of the self show us just how little taste we actually have for sacrifice or time with God. This truth is not meant to discourage us. It’s simply the first step in realising that we have to lay down our life in order to find it again in God.” Adele Calhoun
“They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’ When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:3–4
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry… Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.” Luke 4:1–2, 14
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:2–3
The Motive For Fasting:
“Say to all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted… was it for me that you fasted? – Zechariah 7:5–6
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16–18
“If our fasting is not unto God, we have failed. Physical benefits, success in prayer, the ending with power, spiritual insights – these must never replace God as the center of our fasting.” – Richard Foster
“First, let [fasting] be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on him. Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven.” – John Wesley
Fasting from any nourishment, activity, involvement or pursuit—for any season—sets the stage for God to appear. – Dan B. Allender
We fast because it helps to give us balance in life. It makes us more keenly sensitive to the whole of life so that we’re not so obsessed by our consumer mentality. – Richard J. Foster
A Few Helpful Tips:
- Take baby steps: it’s always good to walk before you run. If you’ve never fasted from food before then just start with one meal. This is called a partial fast. Then, gradually take next steps from there. In fact, here’s an option you may want to consider:
- Beginner: fast for 1 meal per day for the 21 days
- Intermediate: fast for 2 meals each day then break your fast at 6pm with supper
- Advanced: do a complete fast abstaining from all meals and limiting yourself to liquids (water and juices) for hydration and broth.
- Varied weeks option: some may want to consider starting with the beginner stage for week 1, then go to the intermediate stage for week 2, and then go to the advanced step for week 3. Or, maintaining one of the stages consistently for all 21 days. Pray and commit yourself to what you sense God is leading you to do.
- Use the time you would normally be eating to read your Bible and pray. Pay attention to your heart. What is God revealing to you? What needs to change? Where do you need to grow and trust God more?
- Consider a soul fast: if your circumstances prevent you from fasting from food, you have health issues that prevent you from fasting food, or if you sense the Lord is leading you to refocus certain areas of your life that are out of balance, this may be a great option for you. You can ask God to open your eyes to what He may want you to fast. For example, you might choose to stop using social media, limiting screens and devices (cell phone, computer, video games, tv or Netflix), shopping, or sports games – things that take our time, energy and passion that could be redirected to the things of God during a fast.
- Breaking a fast of any kind early can cause people to feel guilty and like they’ve sinned. While, on the other hand, achieving a fast can cause people to feel pride and like they’ve earned favour with God. Watch out for both of these reactions as neither are healthy nor a Biblical picture of fasting. Fasting should be based upon love for God, not legalism.
- If you have potential medical concerns, you should check with your doctor or healthcare professional to make sure that you are physically able to participate as you intend. A chronic or severe medical condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, may prevent you from fasting in the manner you’d like. You should also consult your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing in order to enter into the fast in the most informed way.
For an additional information and tips about fasting, check out this resource: https://renovare.org/articles/fasting-a-practical-guide
The Prayer of Examen is a practical method of prayer that helps believers deepen their personal awareness of God’s presence by examining or reflecting upon the activities and events of each day. The Examen has been practiced by believers for centuries and typically takes 10-15 minutes. In short, it’s a simple and helpful way to “examine” (Lam. 3:40) or “search” (Ps. 139:23-24) one’s heart before God at the end of each day.
By practicing the Examen, believers will:
- Notice and experience gratitude for the good in each day.
- Acknowledge any sad or painful feelings and discern how God is speaking to them through them.
- Be honest about who they truly are and what they need, rather than who they think they should be.
- Become more aware of seemingly insignificant moments that ultimately can give direction for their lives.
We encourage you to try the Prayer of Examen, as we take time to reflect upon God’s presence in our lives. For more insight and helpful tips about the Prayer of Examen, check out these two links.