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Awakening is Coming New Year’s Day 2018

2017 is winding down and 2018 will be here soon. Thank goodness Advent is here to help us finish one year strong at the manger of the New Born King Jesus. What about beginning strong with the New Year 2018? I have a special invitation for our congregation.  

What about beginning strong with the New Year 2018?

Last August, I had a vision for our congregation. In a time of prayer for three days, God placed on my heart asking the congregation to go deeper in prayer by fasting. (We had such a wonderful time of growth in prayer when we read The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson together last Spring.) This would be like step two of our prayer as a congregation together.

The vision became clearer to me to engage in a couple of steps. Instead of inviting our congregation as a whole to begin praying and fasting together I would start with a smaller number. After all we are a mainline protestant denomination and going from 0-70 mph on fasting might be too fast. Instead, I felt led to invite a group of about 40 people to go through Awakening study on prayer and fasting together as a primer for the entire congregation. Then the next step would be inviting the entire congregation to participate as a commitment for the New Year 2018.

We didn't have 40 people participating, we had closer to 50.

We did not have 40 people participate in the 21 days of Prayer and Fasting. We had closer to 50 people reading the book of Awakening, as they prayed and fasted. Not only did the first part of the vision come true but also God raised up a partner to help me lead this group Dallas Gray. (Ironically Dallas and I had not gotten along so well two years ago and God used prayer and fasting to partner together.)  God also prepared the hearts of our pastors and staff to offer the 21 days of prayer and fasting to begin 2018.

So here we are 30 days away from what could be a time of Awakening for our congregation and I would like to invite everyone to participate the first 21 days of the New Year.  Awakening  will be the subject of our sermon series and also the addition of a radical step.  Shalimar UMC will begin the New Year with 21 days of worship, prayer, and fasting. We hope you will plan to join us for an unforgettable 21 days.

Awakening  will be the subject of our sermon series and also the addition of a radical step.

These 21 days of prayer and worship will be January 1-21. On January 1, we will worship at 9:00 am. The rest of the weekdays we will begin at 6:00 am so that everyone can worship before they go to work. The Saturdays of January 6, 13, and 20 we will begin at 9:00 am.   Sundays will include our normal worship schedule. My vision is that during these 21 days, an unbelievable number of people will participate, pray, fast, and our worship will be a daily highlight!

The Awakening book will be available for all in our congregation. In these 21 days we will be reading together the book by Stovall Weems. The book also includes a 21 day devotional and menu plan for prayer and fasting. The book is easy to follow, offers practical teaching, and is inspirational in knowing more about the spiritual discipline of fasting. A 21 day fast is about eating more healthy and leaving off some things to make more room for God. This kind of fasting is not about a mourning and a sackcloth  but rather making more room for God and awakening to His presence in our lives.

Awakening is for first-timers, those who have drifted from God, and those who want new possibilities. 

Awakening will engage us in three ways. First, for those who seek to be awakened to God for the first time. Second, to awaken those who have drifted away from the Lord to return to the Lord. Third, to awaken those walking with the Lord to new possibilities. 

Imagine everyone in our congregation going through an awakening the first 21 days of the year! Our church would be awakened as a whole body together! Only the Lord knows where all this stirring of the the Spirit could take us and lead us as a church!