I’ve just come back from a couple of days prayer and fasting with Newfrontiers in Peterborough (although having been unwell in the run up I fasted Ramadan style with an evening meal).
We do this three times a year and I really value the time out, the extended time in worship, the exhortation to pray, the openness to spiritual gifts. I come back refreshed, renewed by time with friends and in most of all from God’s presence. I very much appreciated calling on God to move in continental Europe and there was a strong sense of us taking ownership of this part of world mission.
There was a very strong contrast on the second morning as God began to speak to people about dealing with their fear and taking courage in leadership. A few hours later our perspective was shaped by news of persecution and martyrdom in various places around the world and the courage of believers who face death and prison for the cause of the Gospel. Surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses our fears seem a little smaller.
I was interested to read on my return to the digital world this article from Rowan Williams on the purpose of fasting which is ‘about more than going without food – it is connecting with reality and noticing the suffering of your neighbour.’ As we prayed for our brothers and sisters around the world I became aware of their suffering and determined to not close my eyes to this reality.