Fasting Together: A Guide for June 2020
Resources for fasting and praying in lament on Tuesday, June 9. Fast beginning after dinner on Monday (June 8), skip breakfast and lunch on Tuesday, then break the fast by eating dinner on Tuesday.
Reason to Grieve
Over recent months, there is much in our world to grieve. We are still in the midst of a pandemic where 400,000 have died from COVID-19, each one an image bearer of his or her Creator. With the shutdown due to COVID-19, we have seen unemployment soar to 40,000,000 Americans being out of work.
There continues to be geo-political turmoil in this world with China, North Korea and many other players. All these pressures add to the stresses of life in a fallen world filled with broken relationships, temptations, and fear.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an African American man created in God’s image, was unjustly killed by a police officer in Minnesota. While many have engaged in peaceful protests, many have turned to vandalism, looting and violence. Raleigh is as of the writing of this still under curfew. Downtown Raleigh has seen much turmoil, and even just across the street from our church, other businesses were broken into and looted. We see in this and other forms of racial injustice a deep sin that ought to grieve us. We value all life, especially those suffering alienation, vulnerability or injustice.
The Response of Lament
Considering all these recent events can lead us to feel fearful, vulnerable and uncertain as to what is coming next. What can we do? How should followers of Christ respond to the tragedies and sorrows of living in a broken world?
The Bible has a clear answer: lament.
Mark Vroegop, author of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, describes lament as “a divinely-given liturgy for processing our pain so that we can rejoice. Lament is a prayer in pain that leads to trust. It is not only how Christians grieve; it's the way Christians praise God through their sorrows. Lament is a pathway to praise when life gets hard.”
The Psalms are filled with examples of laments, both individual as well as corporate. Additionally, the book of Lamentations, written by the prophet Jeremiah, laments the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile in 586 BC (Lam. 1:1).
We encourage you to read this article in which the author noted above instructs us how to lament in four parts: 1. Cry out to God; 2. Share your complaint; 3. Ask boldly; 4. Commit to trusting in God in spite of circumstances. By following this pattern, we move from grief and sorrow to seeking God for help and deliverance, culminating in a proclamation of trust even in the midst of trials and injustice.
Over the past two years, we have fasted the second Tuesday of each month, corporately and intentionally, to call upon the Lord for grace and wisdom as a church of Jesus Christ. This week we want to pray and fast as we lament over the brokenness of our world.
The guide following will help you in this. Join with us in this for the glory of God and the good of our nation.
Help, Lord! (Ps 12:1) Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry (Ps 17:1).
You, O Lord, reign in the heavens, and you are able to do all that pleases you (Ps 115:3; Ps 136:6).
2. Grieve and Mourn
We grieve over the spread of the coronavirus, all those who have died and their families. All the jobs lost and despair experienced in countless ways. Help, Lord! Bring relief from this sickness, bring renewal of economies and society.
We grieve over the death of George Floyd and the unrest it has sparked. We grieve over our nation's history of racial injustice. We grieve over the brokenness of humanity, we divide and attack one another. You made one human race (Acts 17:26), but we "bite and devour one another" (Gal 5:15). Help, Lord! Bring unity and healing.
We grieve over humanity rejecting you. The nations rage and the peoples plot in vain. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed (Ps. 2:1). Help, Lord! Make rebellious heart return to you and rejoice in you.
We grieve over the brokenness of our world. All of creation is groaning for release from bondage to corruption, and we ourselves groan inwardly under the weight of the curse and all its disastrous effects (Rom 8:22-23). Help, Lord! And come quickly to release us and bring final redemption.
3. Praise and Hope
Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! (Ps 3:8)
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Ps 4:8)
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Ps 42:11; Ps 43:5)