This week, Pastor Chris started a series called Abide that will guide us through our 2024 all-church fast. Just as our electronics need to be restarted so they function at their best, we too need a restart to refocus and reset our hearts on the Lord. That is the goal of this sermon series and the Abide Fast. Pastor Chris shared the benefits of fasting and praying, and some practical ways to abide in the Lord as we seek Him during the fast.

John 15:4 (ESV)
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

• Abide means to “dwell, remain, be present, be held and kept.”

John 15:5-7 (ESV)
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Remaining in Christ means

  1. Believing that Jesus in God’s Son (1 John 4:5).
  2. Receiving Him as savior and Lord of your life (John 1:12).
  3. Doing what God says (1 John 3:24).
  4. Continuing to believe (1 John 2:24).
  5. Staying connected to the community of believers (John 15:12).

John 15:8–11 (ESV)
8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

1. Sit and Listen

Luke 10:38–42 (ESV)
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Psalm 142:5 (NLT)
5 Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.

2. “Shut the Door” and Pray

Matthew 6:5–6 (ESV)
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“If you want to see how popular God is in a community, hold a prayer meeting and see who comes”. Lenard Ravenhill

“Prayer is the force that moves the hand that moves the world.”

Prayer is releasing what God has intended to do.

Practical Plan to Grow in Prayer

  1. Turn off the noise.
  2. Set a regular time to pray.
  3. Make a prayer list.
    a. Personal life (physical, financial, relational, emotional, mental).
    b. Other people and places (family, friends, church, missionaries).
    c. For those in authority (city, nation, world).
    d. For God’s justice (local/global conflict, natural disasters, disease/sickness, human trafficking, abortion).

3. Choose to Fast

Matthew 6:16–18 (ESV)
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

• Fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose.
• Fasting is setting the stage for God.
• Fasting is designed to shift our focus from our bodies to our spirits, from the flesh and to the Father.
• Fasting reorients our attention and affection.
• Fasting dethrones king stomach for deeper communion with God.
• Fasting confronts our spiritual numbness.

“You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness.” C.S. Lewis

“Whenever you begin a fast, remember, if it doesn’t mean anything to you, it won’t mean anything to God. Without being combined with prayer and the Word, fasting is little more than dieting.” Jentzen Franklin

“Fasting is designed to reveal our dependence, not just tweak our habits.” Jon Tyson

“Fasting from any nourishment, activity, involvement or pursuit—for any season—sets the stage for God to appear.” – Dan Allender.

Why should you fast?
• If you feel like your dream is in a holding pattern, try fasting.
• If you feel like your marriage is maintaining the status quo, try fasting.
• If your heart is breaking for your kids, try fasting.
• If you need to make a big decision, try fasting.
• If you need a breakthrough, try fasting.
• If you’re chained to a hurt, habit or hang up, try fasting.

What are the benefits of fasting and praying?
• Deepens humility.
• Increases hunger for God to work in our lives and ministries.
• Intensifies prayer concentration.
• Solidifies determination.
• Feeds your faith.
• Sensitizes and opens you up more to the Holy Spirit’s working in your life.
• Fires earnestness and zeal – honest sincerity in your walk with God.

Types of fasts to consider:
• Full fast: abstain from food for a day, two, or five.
• Daniel fast: abstaining from sweets, meats, and treats. Like a vegetarian fast.
• Partial fast: fasting from food for certain meals throughout the week. A type of partial fast is eating only one meal a day.

City Central Prayer Room Hours
Monday – Thursday: noon prayer (no MLK day)
Wednesday nights: 6:30 PM
All Day Prayer: Saturday Jan 27th, 8 AM to 8 PM

Discussion Questions:

  1. To start off the fast, take time to evaluate and share with your group where you are in your relationship with the Lord. If you need help with self-evaluating, refer back to the “What are the benefits of fasting and praying?” section; are you lacking any of these examples in your relationship with God.
  2. John 15 used the analogy of a branches staying connected to the vine. Are there any ways you may be disconnected from God and need to be reconnected?
  3. Prayer is so powerful! In what way do you think God wants to revive your prayer life in this season? Are there specific prayers you have during this fast?

Application Question:

  1. Sit with the Lord this week and seek vision for what He wants to do in and through your life during the Abide Fast. Start by asking what kind of fast you should do. Next, ask what your prayer schedule should look like during the fast. Lastly, make a prayer list as Pastor Chris described in the sermon under the “Practical Plan to Grow in Prayer” section.

Join us for an in-person service at City Central Church in Tacoma, WA
Sundays at 9am + 11am