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Fasting Day 7: Where is the Glory? (The Samuel Fast)

Where is the Glory: The Samuel Fast

The 1859 revival is attributed to three things – three things, incidentally, that you and I are demonstrating today in the Concert of Prayer:

  1. Interdenominational unity – believers prayed at the nearest churches.
  2. Prayer – The revival came not through preaching, but through believers united in prayer, regardless of denominational affiliation.
  3. Laity – It began as a movement among the worshipers, the lay people, as opposed to the clergy.

As I shared with the women of Passionate Pursuit last week, God has led me to focus our prayers each Thursday of the fast on local and national revival.

I am not aware of all the different denominations represented in the Concert of Prayer, but from what I know, there are many. The Concert of Prayer began as a Passionate Pursuit endeavor and quickly expanded to include people from across the nation praying at 6:30 each Thursday.

At Passionate Pursuit a host of denominations are represented—Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, etc. And this month, a majority of these women – of all denominations – are fasting and praying together!

Here we have all three elements of the 1859 revival at work: interdenominational unity among laity for the purpose of prayer. Therefore, I do not take this day lightly – the day we focus our prayer on local and national revival.

You may recall yesterday’s post, On The Attack, in which I wrote about Samuel uniting and leading Israel into national revival. Part of the process that led to revival was a fast…but there was more. In light of our Thursday focus in prayer, I feel this passage will give us powerful direction as we pray in concert at 6:30.

Years before Samuel declared the fast, before he grew up and became a prophet and judge of Israel, the Israelites sinned against God by taking the Ark of the Covenant into battle as a good luck charm. For this offense, God allowed the Israelites to be defeated and the Ark to be taken by the Philistines. The Ark of the Covenant symbolized God’s presence – the place where He dwelled. To lose the Ark meant losing God’s presence among them. This was so grievous to the Israelites that when the wife of Phinehas (one of the priests guilty for the spiritual decay) gave birth to her child, she named him Ichabod, saying, “’The glory has departed from Israel!’ because the Ark of God had been captured. “Ichabod” means “where is the glory?”

Recognize the Need

As individuals, as churches, as believers in our nation, we must recognize and admit what is missing. We must confess, “Ichabod.” We must admit that we have lost the presence of God in our personal lives, our individual churches and in the Church as a whole in America. We have become dry, dead, complacent and lukewarm. Today, let’s admit where the glory of God has departed in our personal lives. Let’s confess our need for God’s presence and glory in our nation.

Admit where you have lost the presence of God in your life. Admit where your church, the Church as a whole and the nation have lost the presence of God.

Remember our Leaders

We must remember to pray for our leaders…and be willing to become a leader ourselves.

God moves through leaders – and according to Scripture, no special qualifications are needed to become a leader other than yieldedness to Him. Throughout the Bible we see that God chose common people as often as He chose royalty. No pedigree is needed to usher the Kingdom of God into your generation. The only requirement is His enabling—His Spirit, which is poured out when we respond obediently to His call.

When God birthed the nation of Israel, he chose one man—Abraham. When Egypt encountered famine, He chose Joseph to become governor and save the world from starvation. When God planned to deliver His people from Egyptian slavery, He chose Moses to lead them out. After Moses came Joshua to take his place. Time and again in scripture we see God working through leaders—men and women He chose for such a time as this.

As a leader, Samuel united Israel in a new way. Prior to Samuel’s leadership, judges led a few tribes. The nation as a whole was not united. Israel was a confederation of loosely connected family tribes. Samuel united the nation by bringing revival.

Pray for your leaders—the leaders of your church, your city, your state and nation. As a global community, we must pray for the leaders of other
nations as well.

Reach Out and Assemble the Body

As the Israelites mourned for God, Samuel instructed them, “Assemble all Israel” (v.5). At that time, Israel was divided into twelve tribes. They were united in worship and ancestry, but they had no central political or military structure.

When Samuel called for the entire nation to gather, he wasn’t just organizing a get-together. He was instructing them to be mindful of their obligation to one another and to fulfill it. Samuel knew that in order for there to be revival, there had to be unity. Fasting is one way to bring people together in unity.

Ask God to unite you in heart, mind and vision with Believers around the world. Following His leadership in this 21-day fast is one way that you have done this. Pursuit 21 is a participating ministry in Awakening—an organization uniting churches and ministries around the world who are seeking God through fasting and prayer. You have joined with over 1000 churches and ministries and hundreds of thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ, united in spirit, purpose and vision. May God continue and increase our unity and spiritual diligence.

I cannot tell you how excited I am that the Holy Spirit has led men and women of different denominations to fast and pray this month – for many at Passionate Pursuit, it is their first time. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if my first fast had been with women of other denominations. Fasting is unifying. Add corporate fasting prayer meetings, as we are going to have tonight at Pursuit 21, and there is permeating unity!

As mentioned in other posts, when I first went on a 21 day fast it was with Free Chapel in Gainesville, GA…halfway across the United States from Texas. I thought that was a pretty cool opportunity…till I went to minister in Timisoara, Romania and stayed in the home of a man who also fasted every January with Free Chapel. God used Liviu to spur me on to fasting the first two days of every month. When I came back to the United States and began fasting the first of each month, I was unified in heart and purpose with Livui in a way nothing but fasting could have accomplished.

However, I would like to see God take this one step further. We also need to physically assemble with other Believers for prayer. I am in favor of set times of prayer, like the Concert of Prayer movement, where we pray in unity no matter where we are. Concerts of Prayer preceded the Scottish Awakening and the Second Great Awakening. People united across nations and around the world to pray at set times. This is an excellent start to revival, but we must be diligent to physically meet together in prayer. If your church does not have a prayer group, pray about starting one yourself. If your community doesn’t have a prayer group, pray about launching one in your city. Praying together in person is vital!

In 1857, Jeremiah Lanphier started a prayer meeting in the upper room of the Dutch Reformed Church Consistory building in Manhattan. Six people showed up at the first meeting – six out of a population of one million.

The following week there were fourteen, and the numbers kept increasing. By late winter, they were filling church after church, forced to move to more buildings as numbers increased. In February and March of 1858, every church and public hall in downtown new York was filled.

Horace Greeley, the famous editor, sent a reporter with horse and buggy racing around the prayer meetings to see how many men were praying: in one hour, he could get to only twelve meetings, but he counted 6100 men attending. Then a landslide of prayer began, which overflowed to the churches in the evenings. People began to be converted, ten thousand a week in New York City alone.

Beloved, we must sacrifice in order to meet in prayer. Many people at these payer meetings skipped meals in order to pray. Yes, that’s right! They were on a partial fast and you can see how God rewarded them openly!

Repent with Sincerity

Gathering and praying doesn’t guarantee revival. If it did, we would have revival every Sunday morning.

“All the people of Israel mourned and sought after the Lord” (v. 2).

The people of Israel were truly sorry for their sins. Some might argue their remorse was only a result of the Philistine oppression on their land, but motivating circumstances do not make the result illegitimate. Right now in America, more and more Believers are waking up to the sins of our nation, and the sins of the church. God is working through oppressive circumstances to open our eyes. As we see the secularization that is occurring and our freedoms that are disappearing, we are responding exactly like the Israelites—we are mourning and lamenting after God, fearful of what we will become if we do not see Ichabod, God’s presence departed, reversed in this land.

  • In 1774, the Assembly of Virginia passed a resolution proclaiming June 1st as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer.
  • John Adams, our second president, proclaimed May 9, 1798 as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer?
  • Under our fourth President, James Madison, the United States was engaged in war with Britain. Both houses of Congress passed a joint resolution desiring a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer on January 12, 1815.
  • Abraham Lincoln proclaimed three fasts.
  • Click here to read the above fast proclamations.

And now we cannot speak a generic public prayer at the start of a football game? We cannot sing Christmas carols in public school? Beloved, the Ark of God has been taken from America. The time is long overdue that we wake up and realize what has been taken and what the consequences will be. Only a national revival that begins first in the Church can bring hope of change.

“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron, 7:14). (Notice that fasting is a way of “humbling” ourselves.)

We are wise, then, to heed Samuel’s words to the Israelites:

3Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand off the Philistines. 4So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only. (v. 3-4)

Baal and Ashtoreths were worshiped as gods of fertility. Believers in America render worship along the same theme, only to gods of a different name. Sexual rituals in the Canaanite temples were designed to prompt the gods to make the earth fertile. In our attempt to make our own lives, our businesses, our families, our ministries “fertile” by our own means, we prostitute our worship to false gods.

When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they defeated the inhabitants of Canaan—the Canaanites, the Philistines and other nations. But afterward, Israel let their enemies live among them. What their enemies could not do in war, they did in peace. Israel ended up enslaved by being “Canaanized”. In Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough, Elmer Towns lists four steps that led to Israel’s bondage, a bondage that rivaled military defeat:

  1. They tolerated the Canaanites
  2. They intermarried with them
  3. They worshiped Canaanite gods
  4. They adopted the Canaanite lifestyle

Our enemy is a defeated foe, conquered by the cross of Christ. Yet we render ourselves his slaves by letting him dwell in our daily lives—in our values, our priorities, our entertainment, our motives. We become so comfortable with him and his way of thinking that we become an ally to his cause. We worship what he worships, from the most conspicuous to the most concealed. Pride, preoccupation with self, (concealed worship) is worshiping as Satan did – declaring we will be God; we will be like the Most High.

Repent of personal idolatries and prostitution to false gods. Ask God to show you the hidden sin in your life.

Repent of pride and idolatry on behalf of the Church in America. Accept personal responsibility. Do not merely confess what others have done, but as Daniel did, confess, “We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from yoru commands and laws …we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning form our sins and giving attention to your truth” (Da. 9:5, 13, emphasis added).

After they put away their false gods, Samuel called a fast:

“Then Samuel said, ‘Assemble all Israel at Mizpah’…On that day they fasted and there they confessed, ‘We have sinned against the LORD’” (v. 5-6).

Remember God’s Power

God’s response was overwhelming. As the Israelites were repenting with prayer and fasting, the Philistines drew near to attack. But because God’s people had put away their false gods and come into a right relationship with God, He fought for them. Scripture says that as the Israelites prepared for the battle, God thundered from heaven.

Just then GOD thundered, a huge thunderclap exploding among the Philistines. They panicked—mass confusion!—and ran helter-skelter from Israel. Israel poured out of Mizpah and gave chase, killing Philistines right and left…Samuel took a single rock and set it upright…He named it “Ebenezer” (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where GOD helped us. The Philistines stayed home—no more border crossings. God was hard on the Philistines all through Samuel’s lifetime. All the cities from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored. Israel also freed the surrounding country-side from Philistine control.” (The Message)

God can easily free us from the demonic slavery into which we have sold ourselves personally and nationally. Not only can He deliver victory in the current battle, but He longs to give back ground the enemy has taken in years past. Does it look like the secular movement in America can never be reversed? There is no more powerful opposition to the power of God than the Philistines. Reversal of America’s oppression is not beyond hope! But it will not come apart from fasting, prayer and true repentance.

When we repent and turn from our sins, God can then use us to free those around us from enemy control. This excites me on a personal level. All of us long to influence those around us positively for Christ. The Samuel fast is a beautiful example of this. The national implications are even more astounding. Do you hurt for other countries under oppressive regimes? Do you long to see God reverse the trend of ever-widening Islamic radicalism? The Samuel fast holds the key.

“Is this not the fast I have chosen…to let the oppressed go free” (Isa. 58:6).

Question: Is an element of God’s presence missing from your life?

 

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