176 posts categorized "Fasting"

Community Fast - Day Five, We Are THERE!

Ann here Race

As I write it is 4pm on day five over here in New Zealand, and I have two hours left to go, woohoo!

Today I would like us to share in the comments how our fast has gone: Specifically, what have you experienced from God this week?

I'll share a little about mine in a moment, but first picture this:

This fast is like a race, where we're nearing the finish line, and we're running it together.

The sun sets on a Friday in New Zealand first, and so us Kiwis will end our fast. There are at least a couple of us here in Auckland who are fasting.

Two hours later the sun will set in Australia, and our Australian SUMites will finish.

Ten hours later the Europeans will finish.

And finally, about six hours after that, those on the American continent will end their race. Lynn brings up the rear in the final time zone, over in California, Pacific time.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)

As I finish this particular race, I feel spiritually refreshed. And here's something that characterized my fast this year:

I had this weird feeling that I wanted to read the Bible without stopping. And that led me to race through much of the New Testament in the style of Forrest Gump! I just had to ... keep ... reading.

Are you still running, Forrest? Are you still reading, Ann?

So over this week I galloped through the whole of Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy, the last part of Acts ... And finally, Hebrews.  Phew!

What's more, when I was sat there, on the couch, devouring his words, I did not feel the hunger pangs anymore. It was as if I was sat there in a beautiful bubble of comfort.

I would then pause, turn to my past journals, and read through things I have felt God say in my life. More feeding: This time I was feeding on his spoken word. And still, my hunger seemed to stay at bay.

His written word is power. His spoken word adds layers of blessing. We need both.

So that was my fast. And based on that I'm going to suggest a final prayer for us all:

Lord crack open your word in my heart. Implant it in me, and let it feed me supernaturally, so that I am full to the brim with you.

Ok, over to you, SUMites, how has it gone for you?

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Community Fast - Day Four Prayer Prompt

SUM Fast 2024Today we are taking our prayers into real preparation for warfare.

Today, ask the Lord for revelation. And ask for wisdom. Ask God to reveal or perceive what you don’t see that is going on first in the spiritual realm and then in the natural. 

Prayer prompt: Lord, reveal the truth about my marriage and my family relationships. Provide me wisdom to process and then work through issues that are ungodly or outside of your Biblical design. Pour your discernment upon my mind and spirit to unwind complex problems and relationships with the wisdom from heaven. Reveal anything the devil is doing in secret and provide the wisdom to confront it. In Jesus name. AMEN.

Now listen. Write down what you hear.

Now ask for courage and strength to battle for truth, hope, and health in 2024. In Jesus name.

What did you learn this morning? Share in the comments. I'll see you there. Love and hugs, Lynn

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Community Fast -- Day Three Prayer Prompt

Ann here, hello my fellow fasting SUM warriors! Fast n pray

Day 3 of the fast.

I'm writing just after midday on day 3. Today finds me hungry, a little spaced out, and feeling doddery. How's your fast gone? Share in the comments if you like.

I sat with God for a long time this morning, and wrote this to him:

I feel like I'm in a bubble of glory this morning.

It is so beautiful being able to sit with you and devote this time to you and your word - written and heard.

My friends, this is the tenth year I've taken part in this community fast. And I am convinced that these fasts are responsible for my ability to walk cheerfully in my SUM situation. I believe the same can be said of many of you, who I know have done these corporate fasts year after year. These fasts have led those who participate to be victors and overcomers in their SUMs.

That is no small thing. It is a miracle to have your attitude changed when you're in a spiritually mismatched marriage.

The first fast I did was in 2015. I approached it with huge trepidation and wow was it hard! I tried to go from morning to sunset each day without food and by 3pm every single day I was hanging around the kitchen fighting the urge to have a bag of chips. I would usually cave and shove a pile of food in my mouth at high speed, crumbs flying.

"Aggh, God! I didn't manage it!" I would whimper, licking the salt and grease of the chips off my lips, and feeling instantly better but frustrated I'd given up. But no, he laughed over me. He loved my heart and little did I realize what a powerful thing I'd been partaking in, this corporate fast.

Over the years my stamina for fasting increased. Still, "Come on Bryce!" I would anguish. "Turn to God, then I won't have to fast any more!"

I'm laughing now. It's not about that. It's not about fasting so he gets saved. It's about fasting so that I become close to God. All else flows from that.

Well, somewhere along the 2015-2024 fasting path, a miracle did happen: God removed all of my pain about my SUM. He operated on it like a surgeon, stitched me up and lo and behold it was gone.

Inconvenience still, yes; challenges still. But not pain.

So I'd love our prayer prompt today to be about that. Let's pray:

Lord, heal me of my pain about my SUM.

In the name of Jesus, let there be no more pity, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, or bondage in me in relation to this SUM situation.

In the name of Jesus, I speak into my heart JOY. PEACE. HOPE. and LOVE. in relation to my marriage.

Jesus, take me into the operating theatre of the Holy Spirit and do a miraculous work in my mind and heart. 

And finally, Jesus, make me an overcomer!

My friends, if you would like prayer for the pain, post in the comments and I'll pray for you. You may find the road to healing is still a little longer than you hope, and he may take you on a learning journey, but God will surely answer that prayer.

Sending you so much love

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Community Fast -- Day Two Prayer Prompt

Hello dear SUM community Fast n pray

Day 2 of our fast.

How is it going? If you didn't manage what you hoped, don't worry, pick yourself up, get back on the horse and start again. It is not about performance, it's about the heart, and God loves our efforts.

Now, here's a thought I had today. Fasting involves two things --

#1: Weakening ourselves by going without food.

Phewee it's tough eh!

And --

#2: Spending time with God, quietening our soul.

During this particular fast, Bryce is at work, I have cleared my calendar of all things this week, and in theory I do have hours available to sit with God.

I have a nice little spot in the sun that I've made, and I sit there with my Bible, journal, laptop, and relevant books to dip into.

HOWEVER, I find when I sit with God I say to him "What shall we talk about?"  Or ... "How do I connect with you?" I drum my fingers, and then after a little while I reach for my phone or some other distraction. "Oh, I'll just text this person... then I'll carry on talking to God."

No, be still, my soul!

I've realized this time round that one of the biggest challenges of fasting is not only going without food; it's also the ability to quiet myself.

Thankfully by day four or five, I'll be in a state where I just lie on the bed, and perhaps then it might be easier. I'll play a bit of worship music then while I lie there and will wait on his voice.

So our prayer point today is about connecting with God. How do you connect with God? 

One of our SUMites, Jeanne R wrote this to me this week: "I often take communion each morning during a fast, praying for Jesus to feed me with his body and pleading his blood over myself, my family, my home and workplace."

How else can we do it? Let's pray:

Lord, quiet my soul so that I can spend time with you.

Lord, help me not get distracted from keeping my eyes on you.

Lord, show me ways to connect with you creatively.

Well, SUMites, I do have a story for you that I mentioned last week, but I'm going with the flow as to what to post this week, so I might write that tomorrow, or leave it to early next week. We'll see where the Spirit leads.

All the very best with day 2 of your fast. You can do it!

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Community Day One - Prayer Prompt

SUM Fast 2024My friends,

On this first morning of prayer, you are likely feeling enthusiastic and energized to stay the course. Excellent. Let's jump into today's prayer prompts are:

  • Seek God. Call out to God. Ask for greater awareness of His Presence. Ask for insight into His love and character. Ask Him for His will and purposes for you in 2024. Then share with Him your dreams. And dream Big. Write them down and tuck them away to read at the end of the year.
  • Pray and ask the Lord to reveal any lies you have believed about him, Jesus or Spirit. Allow Him to minister truth and healing to your body, your soul and your spirit. This is at the heart of spiritual warfare.
  • Pray for strengthening to fast. Ask the Holy Spirit to support you and empower you to stay the course.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Show yourself kindness. If you slip up, don't heap condemnation upon yourself. God loves that you are attempting to grow closer to Him. Love on yourself. And hop back into your fast.

In the comments, please share with me what God revealed or how He loved on you during your morning time with Him. Please share with the community some way that God has been faithful in your life in the past year. 

Let's truly open this fast, open the gates to heaven, with praise and thanksgiving. 

Hallelujah. See you in the comments. Lynn Donovan

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Guest Post by LuAnn Wendover

Hi gang LuAnn

Today we are blessed to have a guest post from long-time SUMite LuAnn Wendover. Many of you will know LuAnn as she actively serves our community by encouraging and praying for many of us. LuAnn has a strong heart for fasting and runs a weekly fast for a group of SUMites behind the scenes. So, without further ado, here's LuAnn:

**

And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22

The yearly fast for our SUM community is quickly approaching. This 5 day fast is to focus SUM for the upcoming year in direction and leading from Abba.

It is always good to examine why we do what we do as followers of Jesus, and what our expectations and hopes are from the fast.

Why do we fast? What is it about fasting that is so important? Who should fast? How do you prepare for a fast?

For me, fasting is about shutting down my flesh with its never ending demands for attention. It is a time of preparing my heart for an encounter with the one who loves me the best. For over five years, my prayer partner, Nickole, I, and other Sumites have fasted weekly. The focus on this type of fast is completely different from a yearly, corporate fast. It is a fast to intercede for the needs of others. So our focus is on denying our appetite for food to approach the throne of God with the needs of our community. 

A corporate fast should be a unity in spirit seeking Him for the good of the corporate body...ie. the SUM community as a whole. The focus is to see what he wants from us as a group. And to see and understand how we as a community can further His kingdom.

I would suggest some research into the differing types of fasts as well as asking Holy Spirit what He would have you do. 

Fasting needs to be focused. It is not simply going without food but replacing that time with prayer or reading the word or praise and worship to seek Jesus. It is denying the screaming baby (our appetite) to better hear Him. It is learning to listen. It is learning how strong our flesh is and what it takes to subdue it.

We are living in times of rapid and insidious change. We need to be closer to our savior than ever before. Fasting gives us that opportunity to seek him, draw strength from Him, and fight the good fight.

Like every spiritual discipline, fasting is like a muscle. The more it is used and exercised, the stronger and more capable it becomes as a tool. 

I would like to encourage you to take part in our yearly fast. There is something very powerful in God's people coming together to seek Him. And our community is not just the leadership. Each of us is important and vital to the success of the group. Each has gifts to share, testimonies that impact each other, support and encouragement. So please consider taking part this year.

LuAnn Wendover is from Milan, NY. She has been a member of the SUM community for several years now. She is a wife, mother of 7, and grandmother of 14. She loves to encourage others in their walk with Jesus.

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Sumite Community Fast

SUM Fast 2024Hello SUMites,

In preparation for our fast that begins on Monday, January 8th at sunrise, I want to offer a few points to help make your fast successful. 

First, figure out what kind of fast you will be partaking. This year, I'm praying for a healthy lifestyle of eating. I'm going to participate in a Daniel fast. I began this fast on January 1st. I'm fasting at least 21 days, longer if I can. 

Remember you can fast many different ways, such as fasting from social media, fasting from television, but the kind of fasting in the Bible is a food fast. Best advice is to ask the Lord what He wants this fast to look like in your life.

Remember, stay hydrated. Generally, most people don't drink enough water in a day. I purchased a large jug last year. I drink the entire half gallon a day. 

Helpful tip: Light a candle. Place the candle in your kitchen or someplace where you see it often. It is a light to remind you to pray. Try this. It really helps. I burn a candle in my living room and when I see it, I pray a blessings prayer. I'll share more about those in my book that is coming out soon.

Determine to seek God. 

Fasting is commanding our desires into submission and allowing our spirit to engage with our Father, Jesus, and Spirit. 

Fasting brings clarity. 

Finally, bring your cell phone into submission. DO NOT take it into your daily prayer time. Just sit with God and listen. He won't compete with the phone. I mean it.

Ann and I will be leading the fast with a prayer prompt each morning. I will be focusing on spiritual warfare, as that is what my new book is about. And real warfare is intense. Fasting draws you closer to God and His wisdom and protection. Which we certainly need if we are going to battle the demonic for ourselves and family members.

Okay, any questions? Leave me a comment.

Are you participating? Please leave your name, where you are from and any prayer requests. I WILL pray over all of them during our fast.

I love you, my dearest, brothers and sister. I hold you deeply within my heart. 

I declare VICTORY for our community. VICTORY. It's finally time to experience God's victories in our lives. I can't wait to hear how God is moving in your life in 2024.

Love and hugs, Lynn Donovan

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

New Year - New Beginnings!

Happy New Year, dear SUMites. We trust your Christmas went well and you’ve stepped into the New Year, yes, it’s 2024, positively.

Pexels-james-wheeler-1578750
Photo courtesy of James Wheeler and pexels.com

As a quick side note, the world often expects us to charge into the new year but after a usually busy December, I find it’s often good to gently step into it. Our souls need it. I’d encourage us all to set aside some time to meet with the Lord and simply rest in His presence. Take some time, if you are able, to simply be peaceful with the lover of our souls. Let Him replenish and refresh you as only he can.

New Beginnings

For much of December as I walked through Advent, I was reminded that when Jesus entered the world as a babe, He brought something new. Himself. And in many unexpected ways.

He continues to offer us something new. It’s in His nature.

I began to sense that newness was a theme for my 2024. And only this morning I read an email newsletter that talked about new beginnings: “Our very life here depends directly on continuous acts of beginning.”

These were words from an Irish poet/philosopher that some of you may have heard of, John O’Donohue.1 If not, look him up as he’s quite marvellous. I’ll finish this post with the poem he wrote about beginnings.

Before I do that, I wanted to share a little about what this might mean for me and what I’m doing about it. I’ve found the past year to be a frustrating one and when I reviewed the year with the Lord over the past week, I got a strong sense to not spend too much time reviewing it, simply to move on and let it go. On Boxing Day I read these words from Isaiah 43:18-19:

"Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.

I am about to do a new thing now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?"

And so I step into the future expectant. Of what, I’m not exactly sure, but the hope and anticipation that comes with venturing into something new, even if unsure what that might be. Think Abraham.

Distractions

I’ve allowed myself to get too distracted. For too long. The world throws so much at us that it is easy to use up valuable time scrolling … and scrolling some more. “Distracted people … are habitually diverted to less important things.”2

So, I’ve quit Instagram and will do similar with Twitter. Also, will stay off Facebook for the next few weeks. To abstain and to explore other areas of my ‘media’ consumption that can become all consuming.

The easiest way to change a habit is to introduce a new one. I’ll be reverting to a more structured daily schedule that typically has always worked for me. I’m a creature of structured routine.

I’m determined to finish this Angelguard trilogy this year. Jack Haines, my lead character, keeps bugging me because he wants to start something new himself. That’s where you’ll find me most days now; with Jack and Jesus.

What about You?

What might be a theme for 2024 for yourself? It’d be fun to share in the comments below, encouraging each other in exploring that theme.

A final note on our fast next week. Fasts are great ways to eliminate stuff and start new stuff. We allow Jesus greater access through abstinence. As a result, our airwaves are often clearer, enabling us to better hear Him and what He would have us do. Even a simple daily prayer like, “Lord, how can I please you today?” can become a habit which changes our days.

Know we’ll all be praying for each other as we gently step into our fast next week.

And now to O’Donohue’s poem3. I hope you might find it as inspiring as I did.

For a New Beginning

by John O’Donohue

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

Warmest blessings for 2024.

Grace and peace.

Note: 1. Maria Popova, aka, The Marginalian, A Spell Against Stagnation: John O’Donohue on Beginnings, 30/12/2023, 2. Chris Hall, A Different Way (Harper Collins, New York, 2023), 274. 3. Popova, ibid

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

The plan for our community fast

Hello dear SUMites, Ann here. Refreshing 2

Something amazing happened this week -- I received something from God specifically for our SUM community, and I am going to tell you about it next week when we begin our annual fast.

I'll keep you in suspense about that one :-)

But for now, this week let's get preparing for our annual SUM community fast.

Many of you have taken part in this fast before. For others of you it will be the first time. Here's how it works:

We fast from sun-up on Monday the 8th of January until sunset on Friday the 12th.

If you haven't fasted before, a good way to start would be to go without food from sun-up to sun-set each day and have a small bite to eat in the evening, while still drinking liquids throughout the day.

However, pray about it and see what the Spirit is leading you to do.

Why do we fast? It lifts us into a greater level of intimacy with God, bringing spiritual blessings and power to our situation. Things change when we fast. Honestly, we could write a book based on some of the things that have happened to SUMites in this community when fasting.

It really is a blessed time.

The first time I took part in this community fast, one of my favorite things that happened was that in the final hour -- at 6pm on the Friday -- I walked into my bedroom to find Bryce lying on the bed reading a Christian book. That was unheard of, it completely bowled me over, and I look back now and see it as a God 'wink' to show me that, yes, my fasting had done something in the heavenlies.

Fasting is not about twisting God's arm. Rather, it's about seeking him, and asking for more of him. When we make ourselves vulnerable and hungry it sends us to our knees in a way that other things don't.

So, to prepare:

  • Pray now for your ability to fast
  • Read some scriptures about fasting
  • Clear your week as much as you can, including getting your family to cook next week. or planning some meals ahead for them
  • Get juices and other nice drinks in stock to help you through
  • Consider telling your spouse/family, if you can - I do tell mine, though it wasn't easy to do at first.

Exciting! Yep, that's right, I'm excited about it. Tough as it is.

What questions do you have about fasting? Fire away!

Lots of love

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Our Annual Community Fast

Dear SUMites Fast n pray

Well, it is that time of year again -- A time of year that many of us anticipate: Our annual SUM Community Fast.

The fast will commence at sunrise on Monday, January 8th and conclude at sundown on Friday January 12, 2024. 

This year we are preparing ourselves for the spiritual warfare that we will engage in beginning in February when we work our way through Lynn's new book, Spiritual Enforcer.

During this fast we will seek the Lord for any way that the enemy holds legal grounds in our personal lives and find freedom for ourselves. Our freedom empowers and enables us to effectively battle for our families beginning in February.

This is the most important fast to date. Plan to participate and let your family know you will be fasting. In the meantime, I will write a little more about it in my next post.

Hold on to your hats. We are going to stand in victory in 2024: Victory in Christ in our lives, our faith and marriages. 

In Jesus' name. AMEN.

Love,

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

We Made a Memorial Before God

By Ann Hutchison Memorial

On Monday of this week, I rose early while everyone else slept, opened my Bible to where I'd left off the day before and began to read. I was still thinking a lot about the fast we'd just been through.

I happened to be in the book of Exodus and, as I was reading, suddenly I saw a piece of glitter sitting on a verse I had just got to. It sparkled like a shard of light, glinting. It was next to the word 'Memorial'.

"Ooh... !" I thought, excited, and strained further to see whether it could be, could be, a speck of gold dust. Of course, the more realistic explanation is that it was a piece of glitter from a Christmas decoration, but we had just fasted.

Well, as soon as I noticed it, it instantly disappeared! I had not touched the page at all, blown on it, or done anything to make it move. Where did it go? It had been a definite chink of brightness, and now it was gone. I strained and looked some more, but nope it was gone. Exodus 30

I concluded then that I had seen it in the spirit. I had no problem believing that. And then I sat back and went 'WOW'. Wow. I stared into the distance for a minute, thinking Was that because we just fasted? Then I decided I need to go back to look properly at the verse in question: Exodus 30:16. Where in the verse was the sparkle located, and why did I see it there? In other words, what was God wanting to show me?

Ok, so let's look at this verse. I'm game! It sure is a tucked-away little part of scripture. In fact, if I hadn't seen the sparkle next to it I would have skimmed over this part of the Israelites' story.

The verse is part of a passage where the Israelites each give a sum of money to the Lord, while in the wilderness. It is a specified amount: half a shekel.

The purpose of the money was so that the people wouldn't be touched by a plague. That money would be an offering to the Lord. In other words, like our fast, their offering afforded them protection.

Well, that was the very topic I wrote about on Monday. So that was interesting. But verse 16, where I saw the sparkle, then built on that:

"And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the Lord, to make atonement for yourselves." (Exodus 30:16, NKJV)

The sparkle was next to the word 'memorial', so this stood out to me. 

What's more, I noticed that I had previously scribbled a note in the margin, about another place in scripture where a 'memorial' to the Lord is mentioned. That place was Acts 10:4, where we see a Roman Centurion, Cornelius, who has been faithful to God. An angel appears to him and says:

"Cornelius! ... Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God." (Acts 10:4, NKJV)

My friends, I believe that God is taking us on a little journey this week to say well done for this fast, and to show us what it's done.

On Monday we talked about how the fast afforded us protection. That was a beautiful thing to know, and though we may never see on earth what that means exactly for our lives, I believe it and receive that word.

And now today it seems God is saying that our corporate fast came up as a memorial before him. What is a memorial? My dictionary tells me that it's something that preserves the memory of anything, serves to keep in remembrance.

It is that God remembers what we've done and will remember this for the rest of our earthly lives. We remember it too. We have put ourselves into God's remembrance.

That is such a simple, but new thought for me in relation to these corporate fasts. It thrills me!

Well, SUMites, wasn't it good fasting together! Let's see if God has anything else to share with us by Friday... And I close with this scripture, which seems relevant:

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him (Malachi 3:16, NKJV)

Love you all,

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

A Tasty Revelation About Our Recent Fast

By Ann Hutchison

Hi SUM family, Bread

We finished our fast on Friday, and WOW what an effort. I talked to a few of you over the week and know it was a special time for many of you.

I'm going to linger on this topic of fasting a little longer, if you don't mind. What did our fast do?

Personally, as a little wink from God, I've sometimes found that something happens in the last hour of our corporate fast. In one of our first fasts, for example, I walked into the bedroom in the very last hour to find Bryce lying on the bed reading a Christian book!!! 

It's as if God was saying "Yes, your fast did something in the Heavenlies. Be assured."

This year, however, nothing happened in the last hour, and I wondered... Would God show me anything about the fast? Well, roll around Saturday morning and I had a cool thing happen. That morning, I rose early. The whole house was quiet, I wrapped myself up in my cosy robe and stood in the kitchen making coffee, ready for some time with God. 

As I did so, I checked email and saw that I'd received an email from a ministry friend. The title was "Sorry, weekend note that could not wait." This man did not know I'd/we'd been fasting.

He had not wanted to disturb me on the weekend but said that he felt like a baker who had just produced a fresh warm loaf of bread and it had to be delivered NOW. As in, the Holy Spirit was prompting him to write.

Well, that was fun, as I'd been fasting for a week and now it seemed God was sending me a loaf of steaming warm bread as if to say "I'm giving you a word now in response to your hunger." Awesome!!

For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things (Psalm 107:9, NIV)

So, what was in the email? What was the loaf of steaming warm bread that God wanted to deliver to me so urgently in the form of words? Well, wouldn't you know it: The email was about fasting!

I reiterate, my friend did not know I was fasting, but in this email he had been led to tell me about a difficult fast he'd done, and how there was evidence that fast protected him from later attacks by the enemy. The crux of the email was that fasting had afforded him protection. 

Because of the timing and content of this email, I believe it was a word from God for us. And I think what God wants us to know is that our fast has afforded us protection. It might be protection we never see with our earthly eyes or understand, of course, so perhaps we just have to know it's there.

I personally had never given much thought of that outcome of fasting -- protection -- but what a great reason to fast.

It's always important to check everything against scripture, of course. And there is an example in the Bible of a corporate fast bringing protection. It's in the book of Esther, where Queen Esther asked the Jews in her city to fast for protection, and that protection does come following their fast:

Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish! (Esther 4:16, NKJV)

So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. (Esther, 5:2, NKJV)

So, our word to take to heart and believe today is this: Our SUM corporate fast has afforded us protection. There is a massive battle in our lives. That we know. And in some form or other the Lord has decreed, "Do not touch, do not touch, my anointed." I thank him for that.

SUMites, I have another insight about our fast too that I received this morning in my prayer time. So I will share that on Wednesday. 

In the meantime, would you like to share anything else about how your fast went?

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

And So We Cross the Finish Line

By Ann Hutchison Hunger for God 2023

Hi everyone, we have made it to day five! It's Friday morning here in New Zealand, as I write. How has it gone for you? I can't wait to hear.

I don't feel too bad here but am slow. At points in the week, it has felt overwhelmingly long and difficult. This morning, I could finally see the end: I went out to buy a big lasagne and garlic bread for tonight... Which I cannot wait to gobble up.

But first -- before that joyous lasagne -- I am going to have the afternoon with God in my shed, and you know wha .... I'm looking forward to that more.

Sometimes our fasts go smoothly, other times less so. So don't worry if you did less than you hoped. I have had some fasts where I have given up, then re-started. One time God showed me how much he valued even those failed attempts. He smiles on our efforts.

One new thing I did this year was carve out more time for God. I've suddenly found myself at the stage of life where I can do that. The cabin in the garden was a real treat, and I even got to retreat there in the evenings this week. 

Bryce didn't seem to mind that, so I went for it. And there I would lie .... on the floor in that cabin, talking to God. Because our theme was friendship with God, I tried to just go there.

It was a gentle, quiet week with the Lord that seems apt for a week where we're trying to be God's friend. I personally didn't feel his presence more strongly than I do normally, but perhaps you did. In a way, the flavor for me was more quiet than usual. But on Thursday I was excited to receive a word from him about our community, and so I recorded that on video yesterday, and I did it from the shed, in the spirit of fasting. Here it is, and I hope it blesses you. He is good to us.

As for ending our fast, shall we do this one last thing? Just before the fast draws to an end today, let's all get a piece of bread and some wine/juice, and take communion. As we do, think of this scripture and even read it out loud:

And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)

It feels especially meaningful to take communion when you're hungry, and to say "Thank you for being my bread of life, Jesus, and thank you for your blood, which also has given me life."

SUMites, we love him, and we are his army of warrior men and women. I think he would say to us, as soldiers who've gone through a lot, "I know what you fight for and what you do." As I think of those I know in this community, I find you pretty incredible.

Now, I would love to hear how your fast is going so far -- or has gone. Share in the comments, and all the very best as you cross the finish line!

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

The Friend we Need

Blog PostHello all! Amanda here for day three of our fast. I hope all of you are doing well and staying hungry for more of HIM!

  As Ann mentioned in Monday's post, our theme this week is Friendship with God. I have been rolling this concept around in my head the last few days and asking myself the question "what does friendship with God look like?". I have been jotting down thoughts as they come to me and I wanted to take this time to share with you what I believe God wants us all to remember about what it means to be friends with him.

 For my side of the friendship it means I want to know him deeply. I want to know his thoughts, his desires, and what pleases him. I want to know what angers him, what he finds detestable, and what he will not tolerate.

  Friendship with God means I talk to him often. Throughout my day I have little conversations with him. I talk to him while I am doing dishes, sweeping, cooking ect. Just like I would one of my girlfriends on the phone. I chat with him about big concerns, little annoyances, and everything in between! One day I may be telling him all about how someone angered me as I furiously scrub pots and pans, another day I may just proclaim my love and thankfulness as I fold towels. No matter what I am doing I want him there with me.

  God and I being friends also means I can be REAL with him! I can let him in all the raw, ugly parts of my life and share what I am really feeling. I do not have to pretend like everything is fine when I am with him. I can let the fur fly! He already knows what I am thinking anyway so its not like any of it surprises him. He just listens patiently, as a good friend would do. He holds me as I cry, corrects me when I'm wrong, and comforts me when I hurt. Oh, what a wonderful friend he is!

  God is the kind of friend we all desperately need in our lives! Yes, he will hold you. Yes, he will comfort you. Of course he will listen to you! What he will NOT do however, is tell you what you want to hear all the time! God is that one true friend who is not afraid to tell us what we need to hear, even if it may sting a little. He is not a "yes man", he cares about us too much to feed us easy lies that may placate us for a time. He will always tell us the truth.

Here are few of the most beautiful things I learned about what this means: First, He loves us unconditionally. When we royally mess up, he loves us. When we get caught up in pride or people-pleasing, he loves us. When we say things we shouldn't, he loves us. When we are lazy, angry, or full of self pity guess what? HE LOVES US! 

Second, he knows us. He knows me. He knows exactly what shade of green is my favorite color. He knows I love the smell in the air after it rains. He knows I love music, sunrises, and lilies. He knows I love the beach, but loathe the feeling of sand between my toes. Haha! He knows my innermost thoughts and feelings. He knows exactly what comforts me as well. He knows ME. More than anyone else ever could.

The Father, our precious Lord, is closer than a brother, parent, husband, or human friend. He is the one in whom we live and breathe and have our being (Acts 17:28). And he desires oneness with us! We only have to reach out and grab hold of him!

During the last half of our fast I hope you find yourself growing closer in friendship with our Father. Even if you don't "feel" him trust that he is right there, because Matthew 28:20 says he is! Enjoy your time with him as much as you can. Let him lavish his love on you, and soak it up!

I would love to hear about how the fast is going for you in the comments!

 

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Where's our Focus when we Fast?

6a00d83451ee9f69e202af1c953abf200dHappy New Year, dear SUMites. I do hope you all had a blessed time with loved ones over the Christmas/New Year period.

And now we Fast. It’s become the traditional way we SUMites start our years. It’s a great way as individuals to draw closer to God and doing it together can deepen that experience and strengthen our bonds as a group.

Transition Seasons

“We become what we behold” – William Blake

I think I shared this Blake quote in a previous post as it’s become one of my favourites over the years. During Advent, I was drawn to the notion of how we spend our time while we wait; Advent, of course being a season of waiting.

I mentioned last time in my Advent post that I’m presently in a season of transition. Looking forward to what the next season in my life holds having spent much of the last few years caring for my parents.

We’re all probably familiar with the story of Anna, the prophet, who greeted Mary and Joseph when Jesus was presented in the temple. Let’s meet her, here in Luke:

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38 NIVUK)

Anna, like we SUMites, knew a thing about waiting. She had been waiting for the redemption of Israel through the fulfilment of the OT prophecy of the Messiah. After becoming a widow, likely to have been in her early 20s assuming she married as a young teen like most women did in Biblical times, she spent around 60 years hanging out in the temple. Now that’s a lot of waiting.

And what do we read she does? She worships, fasts, and prays. Continually. Incredible, isn’t it? Her faith is extraordinary. Anna is formed in her devotion to Jesus as she waits for Him. Waiting, even though (often) uncomfortable, is a significant time for our spiritual formation.

What we look at while we’re waiting is very important. Read that again.

Focus

Increasingly, I’ve found myself being very distracted, struggling to ‘focus’ and as a result be present with God and others. Life with all the technological advancements of the past 20-30 years has made it very easy to get distracted. We’re constantly bombarded but also drawn to social media and the like. We have hundreds of streaming channels to navigate, and we can buy anything at any time of the day and night. I’m a research geek, so I can lose myself for hours on end trawling down the internet for all manner of seemingly interesting tidbits.

Late in the year, I was drawn to some writing about seeking God more intentionally and felt the nudge by the Spirit to adopt ‘focus’ as my Word for the year. What have I done to become more focused:

  • straight after Christmas by turning off social media. It’s become an easy time waster for me.
  • I’m intentionally reading the Gospels this year as my Bible study reflections. Two scribes I admire both mentioned that if we desire to seek more of Jesus in our life, starting with the four books He stars in is a good start. I like that idea. Intimacy with Jesus requires focus. Being a good friend with Jesus requires focus.
  • I’m praying specific short prayers during the day to invite God into the moment. One that I regularly pray is very simple:

“Lord, I want to know you more intimately,

So I can love you more intensely

To follow you more closely.”

  • When I’m exercising, I’m picturing Jesus doing it with me. Even the other day at the cinema, I pictured Jesus sitting in the seat next to me inviting him into the activity.

These are just some of the things I’m doing. Seeking to invite Jesus into more of my day.

And fasting requires focus too, doesn’t it? To relieve the hunger pangs, we need to focus on another. And that is the idea of fasting. We use the hunger pangs to in fact draw us closer to Jesus. We focus more on Him and invite Him into our hunger as He is able to sustain us and carry us through the day. I'm praying I might gain some greater clarity around what's next for me and where I should next step.

Do any other SUMItes have a Word for 2023 yet? It would be a wonderful discussion for us to have in the comments if we share them and perhaps provide a little background as to why this Word is significant this year.

Go well this week. We’re excited to hear of some of the fruit we may experience as a result. But do remember, that often the fruit comes later, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t receive a lightning bolt of inspiration during the week.

Grace and peace

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Oh, to be God's friend

Welcome to day one of our annual corporate fast! Hunger for God 2023

As I write, I am sitting here in a shed/cabin in my back garden. I asked Bryce if I could commandeer the 'cabin' this week, as he normally uses it for work. He said yes, smirking a little at my weirdness LOL. So this is my place for spending time with God this week - intimately, I hope.

My friends, I always start this fast feeling terribly nervous about going without food. Do you have those fears too, I wonder? I suppose it's understandable as fasting is no easy feat. Still, I pray that God will hold my right hand and help me do this thing.

And the same for you too – I pray now that God will help you.

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NKJV)

As for the plan this week, we have a nice treat: The writing team is going to take it in turns to write each day, so you'll have a few of us keeping you company. Our theme: Friendship with God.

That theme came to me when I was recently studying the story of Abraham and found a scripture in James that described Abraham as a 'friend of God.' Here's the scripture --

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. (James 2:23)

As I read that scripture, I cried out inwardly, "Lord, I want to be your friend, like that!" Really and truly. Please, Lord.

Well, who knows what God will do in your life when you pray that. But I do know that when I reach the end of my life and pass into eternity, if I have been God’s friend on earth it's going to lead to a very rich time in the kingdom of heaven.

So with that said, are you up for a week of us talking about being a friend of God? The good thing about God is he has space to have many friends. For Jesus said that in his father's house are many rooms: That is, there's a lot of space for anyone who wants in.

As a starting point, then, take some time today to ask God this question and see what comes to your mind:

Lord, what does friendship with you look like?

And, as we journey through this fast, share in the comments how it's going for you, and what you’re learning from him. If you have the energy to share, I'd love to hear what you're fasting for and hoping for this week.

Much love to you all,

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Preparing for our Fast

Hi SUMites Fasting from food

It's Ann here. Only a few days now until our fast begins! So, on that note let's talk about the practical aspects of this fast.

Our fast begins on Monday the 9th at sunrise and ends on Friday the 13th at sunset.

If you're new to fasting, this may be the most special fast you'll have. God will meet you there!

A good option, if you're new to it, would be to go without food each day until sunset, then have a small meal in the evening. If you do that, make sure you drink plenty of liquids - Juice, tea, and coffee, for example. 

On the other hand, if you've fasted before, you might like to consider the more radical option: A liquid-only fast for the whole five days. Gulp! Hard it is -- But that kind of sacrifice for God holds a power in it that may well radically lift our game.

A few years ago, Lynn shared that she had decided to intensify her fasting practices during the SUM fast. Instead of having an evening meal each night, she went without food all five days. The rest of us watched incredulously, thinking 'I couldn't do that!' For my part, I actually was too scared of doing it, lest I do my body some damage!

I can be a bit silly about things like this, and I actually thought 'Would I die?!' LOL. But honestly, fear just needs to GO, right? 

Well, Lynn actually had an incredible vision from God during that fast. And, after hearing that I too wanted more of God. I was hungry for him and still am.

About three years ago, I began doing that kind of fast, and it's what I'm going to do again this time. I have a little cabin in my garden where I'm going to hang out, hungry, and I know it will be a blessed time. 

Preparation for a fast does help. So here are some thoughts on how to prepare:

  • Pray now about it, asking God what kind of fast he'd like you to do. Apart from food, for example, is there anything else he'd like you to fast from? 
  • Pray for your ability to fast, too. Pray that the enemy cannot stop you from doing it.
  • Clear your week from commitments as much as possible.
  • Have plenty of juice and liquids ready in your house to help you along.
  • Tell your family, if possible, and plan ahead so that you don't have to do much cooking.
  • Find a special space in your house where you can retreat to, to spend time with God next week.

You might also want to talk to God about what you're fasting for. You might have some questions you'd like to put to him this week. Or, there might be some particular things on your mind that you'd like to fast about. I tend to write down before the week starts what I hope to talk to God about.

Do we tell our spouses? Yes, I do, and it helps that Bryce knows. I found it very hard to tell him initially but plucked up the courage. He thought it was mildly weird, but ok. Fast-forward a few years and now he knows it's something I do in January and "Oh, it's that time of year again. Right then."

Anyway, it's exciting. Do you have any questions? I'm praying for you as you prepare for this, and I can't wait!

Let's share in the comments how we're each going to fast, and feel free to ask questions in the comments too.

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

SUM Community Fast: What Does God Have in Store For Us?

SUM Community Fast: Monday 9 January - Friday 13 January.

Hello SUMites, and a happy new year to you all! Hunger for God 2023

Wow, in just a week's time we are going to be embarking on our annual SUM community fast. Are you game for it?! I sure am!

I thought today I'd share a little taster of what fasting has done for our community. And then, in my next post I'll include the more practical info on what kinds of fasts we can do, and how to prepare.

Why We Fast 

We have fasted together in January for a long time now. We first began years ago because God asked us to, we dipped our toes in, and since then -- wow -- what an adventure it's been! For some of us it's turned into the highlight of our spiritual year, even though it is hard. Why do we look forward to it? Because there is nothing in this life better than getting to know God better, and that's what fasting does.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33, NKJV)

In past fasts, we have seen some immediate, mind-blowing things happen. For example, during the fasting week, we've seen some of our SUMites hear God's voice particularly clearly and share their experiences in the comments. These things have been such a blessing to the rest of us. What's more we've seen some of our SUMites experience new and profound things with God during this fast week - Dreams, visions, new gifts even!

Other times, as a result of the fast God has given us guidance just like he did to Ezra and the Jews when they fasted in a similar way --

Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions (Ezra 8:21, NKJV) 

So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer (v. 23)

But there's also a longer-term spiritual effect of fasting. Things don't always happen during fasting week, but afterwards. Many of us who've fasted in past years walk in significantly more peace and strength than we did before, and I'm sure the years of fasting have done that to us. It's as if Satan can't touch you so easily when you fast. 

After all Jesus said that fasting and prayer can, in some circumstances, be the only way to defeat certain spirits. For example: 

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!" Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead so that many said, "He is dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting." (Mark 9:25-29, NKJV)

So that is fasting. It is power to us and a fabulous, but gentle, spiritual weapon to wield as we seek to strengthen ourselves as spiritual warriors in our homes.

Well, much love to you all, SUMites, I hope I get to fast with as many of you as possible, and I'll tell you more on Wednesday.

Are you going to take part in the fast? Hop onto the comments and let us know if you are!

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Community Fast

Stay tuned for more information and how to participate in the SUM Community Fast. January 9-13, 2023

Hunger For God 2023

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Our Homes and Families, Fasting our Final Day

Community Fast -- The Final Day

We are very nearly there .. Oh what a great feeling! Fast and pray 2022

If you're fasting food you may be feeling somewhat out of it by now, and so relieved that we're nearly there. You've nearly done it! And however you've fasted, God honors your efforts. Hiccups and all.

Fasting afflicts our soul, sends us crashing to the floor in weakness, makes us like vulnerable newborn babies.

But equally, it's a common adventure for us as a community, and that part I love. We've been doing this together for years now, and each year we learn a little more about how to fast or we see each other try something new ... courageously.

I've learned that one person's fast is completely different to another person's; and I shouldn't expect what happens to one person to happen to me. After all, God works with us each so individually. My recent fasts, for example, have been very quiet in terms of hearing God. I've often expected some grand revelation, but it's not necessarily been like that. All I know is that it does change things. I look back at all these years of fasting now, and do believe it has strengthened many of us, enabling us to walk in victory in some quite difficult circumstances.

Spiritually, we are a powerful army when we fast like this, together. It's as if we're marching forward in ranks, side by side, not looking to the right or the left. Only forward. Only towards our God. Armored up, and focused. And while it's tough as anything, it's a pleasure to do this with you, to be part of these ranks, and to know that on all sides not only do I have the mighty hosts of Heaven, I also have my fellow soldiers in this community.

So as we march towards the finish line (yay!!) I wonder if we can do two things today just before our fast closes? I'll be doing this an hour or so before the end, and then will ease into eating gradually.

First, take communion. Before our fast Lynn shared a recipe for unleavened bread. Or, take a regular cracker, juice or wine, and then sit in the quiet and read one of the passages in the Gospels where Jesus talked about the Lord's supper. Those can be found in Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, and Luke 22:17-20. Or you could read some of John chapters 14-17. Marinate a little and thank him for the week.

And second, would you take some time to pray for the whole SUM community? That is, the SUMites, their homes, their spouses, and their children? What a lovely thing that would be for so many of us to be lifting up our voices in prayer for these homes. It'll be not unlike our recent day of worship, where our prayers will reach Heaven hour by hour, seeing as we are spread across so many time zones.

Thanks everyone, it's been a meaningful week as always. Next week I'm on holiday with my family in the South Island of New Zealand (a place called Queenstown) so the blog will be quiet. But we'll all be back again the week after.

And now it's your turn: Tell us about your fast, how has it gone? Did you experience anything spiritually? I can't wait to read the comments.

Love to you all,

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Play with the Father -- Fasting, Day Three

Hello my fellow fasting squad! Fast and pray 2022

How are you doing? I am thinking of you all as I potter around the house.

As I write, it's day three here. So far I've had no food for the past three days. I'm pretty woolly-headed, on 'go-slow' mode. And, it's just been a gentle time with God so far. 

Yesterday I wrote about the wilderness. Well, today I want to look at something that can be experienced within our wilderness: The playful love of the Father. And I want to tell you a lovely story from last year's fast.

One morning in July 2019 I woke with a four-digit code in my head. I grabbed my phone and wrote it down. 

A year later, July 2020, I woke with a picture in my head of a wicker basket, the size and shape of a Glory Box or trunk. Again, I wrote it down.

We then came to our community fast, January 2021. The week before, I was walking with oldest son, Travis, and I said, "You know, one thing I've always wanted is a one-person teapot, I really want one of those.." at which he laughed.

The fast rolled around and on day two I was out with my boys. We came home, and there waiting for us was a big box by the front door. It was a gift from several family members in England who had clubbed together to send us something really special. It had been due to arrive before Christmas, but was late; hence its arrival on this first week of January, and my fasting week -- Perfect timing.

The boys and I carted the box into the living room and excitement hit. Forgetting my hunger completely, I started ripping open the box, with straw flying. I cried, "No no no, I get to open it!" as the boys' hands were competing with mine to get a first look. We eventually pulled apart the cardboard to discover a glorious wicker basket, the size and shape of a glory box, a trunk! 

"Ohhh, it's the wicker basket I saw," I thought to myself.

This basket was a very big food hamper from a specialty food store in London. I love food. Not only that, the last four digits of the courier code for its delivery were the same four digits I'd woken up with back in July 2019! I knew that because I'd received a text about the package already. Those four digits had remained meaningful to me and that text had given me an inkling God was in this.

That's not all, though. I then got to open the wicker trunk, and lo and behold the first item I pulled out was ........ A one-person teapot!!

Well, by this time I had truly forgotten wilderness hunger.

The items continued to come as we dived into the trunk with our hands. There in the Glory Box were tin and cardboard packages, all containing food-related goodies. It was exquisite stuff and I was in heaven. But the final moment came when I laid out all the pieces on our piano and realized the packaging was all co-ordinated in the same colors of my special journals in which I write words from God: Fuschia pink and duck-egg blue.

"The boxes are the same color as my journals!!!!" I shouted. I was beside myself. What a gift. 

The boys were so amused they grabbed a phone, took a photo, and then roared with laughter when they took a look ... It's a funny photo, and I hope it gives you a giggle. Yep, I was excited. Ann joy

That day the Father played with me and loved me. Perhaps he was even saying "You gave up food for me. Now see my heart for you."

Oh friends, today I've been reflecting on how tremendous God is. And with that in mind I want to end with an idea. I did this today myself:

Take a moment to quietly sit with the Father along with a paper and pen, and dream with him. Write a list of your dreams for your life, sitting consciously in his presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you write this list. And include your family and home in those dreams -- Well, I know you will as that is top of our minds. Keep the list somewhere special for years to come.

That's all for today. What's happened so far in your fast, and how has your day been?

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

While in the Wilderness - Fasting Day Two

How did day one of the Fast go for you? If you didn't manage it yesterday don't beat yourself up -- It's perfectly normal to have a few hiccups in this big exercise called fasting. Just dust yourself off, get back on the horse, and start afresh. Fast and pray 2022

Over here, so far so good. I've not eaten since Monday morning. It does make me feel unwell, though, and that's even with coffee and juices. I can't believe that Jesus did this without those kinds of aids in blazing desert heat for forty days (Matthew 4:1-4).

On that note, I feel like looking at a well-known fasting passage today:

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Weakened, Jesus goes through more temptations from the devil in his fasting state until finally:

"The devil left him, and angels came and attended him" (v.11).

I'm reflecting today on the fact that a believer who has work to do for the Lord will be allowed to endure a wilderness season like the above.  A season, that is, where they are weakened, fragile, tempted, and embattled. Sound familiar?

A wilderness season (which may last years) lifts us from being a baby Christian to a viable, ministering-to-others, working-for-the-Lord kind of Christian. 

I wonder why Jesus fasted while also being in the wilderness and being tempted. It seemed the two came as a package: Fasting forty days, and also being tempted in a miserable wilderness. Further, he was on his own; well, without human companionship. But that whole package (fasting, temptation) lifted Jesus into a maturity that meant he could walk into the next thing God had for him: His ministry.

It's also noticeable that his wilderness time happened straight after he was baptized. And it was only after the wilderness that he went out, found his disciples, and performed his very first public miracle: The turning of water to wine at a wedding.

Do we all need to have a wilderness time after our initial conversion in order to truly be useful to the Lord? Perhaps so. For out of our pain comes our ministry to others.

For that reason, when I look back on my own SUM I can even dare to say that I wouldn't change it for the world. It's done things to my own character. Necessary things, I guess.

Our homes, our families, and our wilderness alone season... God will use it all. And we can pray "Lord, help us walk it through and see it through. Hold us up in it all."

How is your fast going so far? Any thoughts on the topic of wilderness seasons? Share anything you'd like to in the comments.

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Day One of our Community Fast

Hello friends Fast and pray 2022

Ann here and it’s Monday, day one of our fast. I am so looking forward to seeing what God will do among us this week. There is always something exciting that happens.

Now, I woke this morning raring to go. However, I was nervous too. I’m going without food all week, and that's a feat for sure. But we're in it together and I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

This morning I began by sitting in my quiet prayer room. The family were still asleep, and so I opened a blank page in my journal, pen in hand, and said to God, “Our week of fasting is now here. Lord, what do I hope for this week? What shall I be praying for? And, what do I want to fast for with you?” I managed to have a couple of hours of quiet with God. It was beautiful and peaceful.

I jotted down some thoughts in those two hours. One of my main prayers, currently, is for the SUM community’s homes, and for ongoing wisdom personally.

And so, the theme of this week’s fast is going to be prayer for our homes and families. We always do pray for this, but let's do so especially this week.

On that note, today I want to share a little tucked-away story from the Old Testament. It’s from the time of King David when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem. There was a decision to be made about where the Ark of the Covenant would reside, and David was seriously scared about the sheer power of the Ark. His fear had come because someone had died from touching it (2 Samuel 6:6). In the end, someone else -- A man called Obed-Edom -- took the Ark on behalf of the nation, and safely cared for it in a respectful way.

The part that interested me was this:

“The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months. And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household.” 2 Samuel 6:11 (NKJV)

My friends, our own care of the Holy presence of God in our homes is not unlike Obed-Edom's care of the Ark of the Covenant, above. And what happened to him was that blessing followed. What an honor it is to welcome God's presence into our homes. What's more, may we approach that task like Obed-Edom did, with reverence, care and due stewardship. This fasting is part of that: It is our way of showing care, love, and reverence to God. 

Indeed, when we welcome the Holy presence of the Lord into our homes, with due respect, awe, and a deep love for Him, I do believe the Lord will bless us and all our household; and this is what we as SUMites are doing. We are the caretakers of faith in our homes.

So today, my friends, perhaps we can pray this prayer:

Lord God, we welcome you into every part of our home and lives.

Lord we welcome your presence into our homes. What an honor that we know you. What an absolute honor!

Help us to be trustworthy, help us to steward the faith you have given us, and help us to safe-keep the faith seed of our families as it sits growing within our homes.

We love you, Lord, with all our hearts, all our souls, all our strength, and we pray in Your Name, our beloved Jesus. Amen.

How are you fasting this week, and what are you hoping for? Let's share in the comments.

All the best with your first day!

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Fasting: How Can We Prepare?

Hi everyone! Fast and pray 2022

Well, our annual community fast begins this Monday and I thought we could chat about how we prepare.

I wonder if you're like me in that every time we do this fast I look forward to it -- Some amazing things have happened in past fasts. But I also feel thoroughly nervous. Going without food is no small thing. For me it's as hard as, say, scuba diving would be, or climbing a very difficult mountain. 

For that reason I find I have to prepare mentally for it as much as physically. So, how do we do that?

First of all, we can be praying for ourselves ahead of this week. It's better to pray when we are feeling fine than when we are hungry and challenged. Quite simply, then:

Lord, help me do this fast. Strengthen me when I'm tempted to break the fast this week. Give me stamina. And please let it be a special week for us all.

Second, we can prepare practically by getting plenty of liquids into the house. For example, on Sunday I'm going to go down to my local foodie shop to buy in some things like protein shakes, bone broth, and juice. I'm also going to buy in some ready-made meals for my family so that I don't have to cook quite so much this coming week.

Third, in spiritual terms, we might want to make a list of things we want to talk to God about over this fast, or things we want to fast about. That said, I'll probably do that on Monday morning once the big week is here.

And finally, consider whether to tell your spouse. It is a good idea to tell them, but it's not always easy to do and it does take some courage as the practice of fasting might seem weird to them. For me it took a couple of years before I told Bryce but eventually I did and I'm glad he knows.

So, those are just a few thoughts. All the best over the weekend as you plan for this, and we'll see you again here on the eve of the fast to kick things off.

Much love to you all

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

A Date for your January Diary

Hi everyone, January

It's Ann here, and I just wanted to give you a heads up about the next thing coming up for us:

Our annual fast is happening from Monday 3 January to Friday 7 January -- And, even though fasting is challenging there's something very exciting about that week. So yes, put those dates in your diary and start to think about how you might take part.

For those new here, this fast is something we've done for a number of years and many of us find it a deeply impactful experience. One SUMite even said recently it's the spiritual highlight of her year. What we notice, I guess, is that it brings us closer to God, and we'll often have something novel happen during the fast to us personally, or to someone else in the comments. It's very much an 'in-it-together' thing. 

If you're new to fasting, a good way to start is to fast from food each day from sunrise to sunset, with a small meal each evening. But, if you've built up some fasting stamina over past years you might try a stretch further by going liquids-only for the whole week, Monday sunrise to Friday sunset. Eek, that is very challenging indeed!

However you challenge yourself, things do shift, change, and break open. Guess what happened the first time I took part in this community fast? At Friday sunset I walked into my bedroom to find Bryce lying on our bed reading a Christian book!! I couldn't believe my eyes; and yet I could because of the week I'd been through.

Jesus said to his disciples when they were trying to unsuccessfully cast out an unclean spirit, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29). 

... And to that I say, "Right then, let's roll up our sleeves and take the plunge all over again this January, for we need this in our homes!"

After Christmas we'll write a little more about how we can prepare for the fast. But for now it'd be good to start asking God "How would you like me to fast this time?" and perhaps pray for the stamina and preparedness to do it, because it does take some thinking.

I'm really looking forward to doing this with you all again.

Much love,

Ann

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb