Fasting Day 17: A Day of Prayer for Shades of Grace- Shades of Grace | Natalie Nichols

Fasting Day 17: A Day of Prayer for Shades of Grace

A Day of Prayer for Shades of Grace

During this time of prayer and fasting with Pursuit 21, the Holy Spirit has led me to designate one day as a day of fasting and prayer for Shades of Grace Ministries. If God has ministered to you and deposited spiritual seed in your life through Shades of Grace, I would like to ask you to commit to fast and pray for us for twenty-four hours. You can choose the type of fast (full or partial). Points of prayer are below.

When a problem is personal, the fast should be personal. But when the problem is national, the fast should be national, such as the fast Esther called (see Esther 3). The circle of those involved in a fast must be large enough to include those who are affected by the problem.

If Shades of Grace were to stop any aspect of ministry, would it affect you? If there were no blog posts, no women’s events, no recordings/teachings posted, no Pursuit 21, no resources available, no media center, no YouTube channel, no Facebook page, no Passionate Pursuit, would this affect you? If so, then I ask you to fast and pray for us during this critical time, even if you are not fasting with Pursuit 21.

I have been extremely reluctant to share our needs as a ministry, preferring to put total focus on Jesus. I want strictly to give, inspire, dwell on and excite about the things of God. Yet I realize God has instructed us to pray for each other.

Scriptural Precedent

When fasting, it is vital to know what scriptural precedents apply to your causes for fasting. Not only will this provide encouragement, it also helps you know how to pray and how to believe God to respond in your situation.

The scriptural precedent on which I am basing our fast for Shades of Grace is the Ezra Fast. The Ezra fast brings great solutions to great problems. (The Ezra fast is an occasion of fasting in Scripture, not specific foods to eat while fasting, such as in the “Daniel Fast.”)

“Is this not the fast that I have chosen…to undo the heavy burdens” (Isaiah 58:6).

To “undo the heavy burdens” means to solve problems, inviting the Holy Spirit’s aid in lifting loads and overcoming barriers.

If you are fasting and praying today, please click here to read about Ezra’s fast. This will give you a basis on which to pray scripturally, specifically and expectantly.

The Ezra Fast

The Ezra fast and its Scriptural principles apply any time that:

  • we are facing a financial crisis
  • we are going through a major change
  • we are making major decisions
  • we are under heavy burdens
  • we are encountering hardship and overwhelming problems
  • our security is threatened
  • we are concerned about the well-being of our children (natural or spiritual children)

As you read the points of prayer below, I believe you will see just how applicable the Ezra fast is to our fast today.

The book of Ezra tells the story of Jews returning back to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon. For Ezra and those returning with him, the long journey ahead was plagued by gangs and thieves. Ezra and the Jews had their wives and children with them, as well as silver, gold, the sacred articles of the temple, their household goods and treasures too. The Israelites were not leaving Babylonian captivity as beleaguered prisoners. They were not mere escapees. They had settled down in Babylon, built houses and businesses. Many had grown wealthy. Some did not want to live in primitive conditions in order to rebuild their nation. They wanted to enjoy the luxury of Babylon. The Jews who did not want to return were required to send gold and silver for rebuilding the Temple. Ezra was transporting their money and possessions.

“In all there were: 25 tons of silver; 100 silver articles weighing 150 pounds; 7500 pounds of gold” (v. 26, CEV).

The Jews were the perfect target for thieves and thugs. They were loaded…and defenseless. They desperately needed protection for the long journey.

Ezra was burdened and facing a financial problem. Just as there were thieves and robbers lying in wait for the Jews along their journey, John 10:10 tells us that we too have a thief lying in wait for us. He has come to steal, kill and destroy. He desires to rob us of financial provision and destroy every aspect of ministry.

Ezra took the right step. He declared a corporate fast.

“21There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. 22I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king. ‘The good hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him’ 23So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer” (Ezra 8:21-23, NIV).

Key Facets of Ezra’s Fast

It is important to note the key facets of the Ezra fast.


1. Called a corporate fast, asking all who would be affected to participate. Ezra did not fast alone. I have called a corporate fast today.

2. Shared the problem. He was candid about the obstacles and dangers that lay ahead. I will be candid about the problems Shades of Grace is facing.

3. Fasted seriously with the Jews. They agonized in prayer. Fasting without prayer is a diet. I will agonize in prayer these twenty-four hours. Will you?

4. Called the fast before attempting a solution. I have not attempted any solutions apart from the fast.

5. Fasted on site with insight. Ezra brought the people face to face with their problem—he brought them to the banks of the river. The prayer points below will bring you face to face with the problem.

6. Fasted for step-by-step guidance. Ask the Lord for step-by-step guidance for Shades of Grace and me.

7. Knew the desired outcome. For each need, I have shared God’s personal answer — His promises to me. I know God’s desired outcome.

8. Had scriptural basis for the expected outcome. The desired outcomes God has spoken of are all based in scripture.

As you read the points of prayer, you will see several personal promises God has given me for Shades of Grace. I have been reluctant to ask for corporate prayer, because God has already given His answer. However, having a promise does not mean that we shouldn’t pray. (See God Promised. Do I still pray?)

God Has Stated the Outcome. Should We Pray?

Danielunderstood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah…that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years” (Daniel 9:1-2). Daniel had God’s promise – His guarantee – that their captivity would end after seventy years. Did Daniel decide there was no need to pray?The very next sentence says,So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayerand petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes” (v. 3).

Elijah had received revelation that it would rain. He knew what God’s will was concerning the rain (I Kings 18:1). When the rain was nonexistent, Elijah spoke to Ahab as if it already existed (see Rom. 4:17). Elijah knew what God was going to do. Yet, this did not preclude prayer.

Elijah bowed down to the earth, put his face between his knees and told his servant, “Go and look toward the sea.” The servant came back with the news, “There is nothing there.”

Elijah sent him back to look seven times…all the while praying with perseverance and persistence.(I Kings 18:43).

God has promised…and we will pray and see the fulfillment! I am excited and filled with anticipation of what God is going to do! He is a faithful, covenant-keeping God!

Points of Prayer

As you fast and pray, ask God for the following:

1. Anointing, unction and power of the Holy Spirit to be upon Shades of Grace Ministries in an increased way.

  • 1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he…ate nothing….14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit… (Luke 4:1,14, emphasis added).

Notice the change. Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” after being baptized. Then He was led into the wilderness to fast. When He returned from forty days of fasting, He returned “in the power of the Spirit.”

2. Financial breakthrough and provision.

When we enter God’s chosen fast, He promises to:

“loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6).

Before the fast that God spoke of in Joel 2, the people experienced a famine caused by an invasion of locusts. Their fields were ruined and the ground was dried up. Poverty ran so deep that not only did they lose their current crop, they lost the seeds – the potential for the next season’s harvest as well.

“The seeds are shriveled beneath the clods. The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down for the grain has dried up” (Joel 1:17).

After the fast, the threshing floors were full of new grain and the vats overflowed with new wine and oil.

24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. 25 I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:24-25).

God repaid the years the locusts had eaten. The people had “plenty to eat” (v.6). God gave them autumn and spring rains; He saw their crops through to abundant harvest.

Significant Danger

This need of financial breakthrough and the next topic of prayer (see #3 below) are significant threats, just as Ezra and the Jews faced very real, dangerous threats.

In the past, my personal fasts and prayers for ministry funding have revolved around doing more – reaching people and touching them in more ways for the sake of Christ. However, currently my fasting and prayer concern whether Shades of Grace will even be able to maintain current levels of ministry and outreach.

Threat of Decreasing Workers

Shades of Grace has been blessed with gracious volunteers who attend to a task once a month, or help with an event. However, we have no full-time or part-time employees or the funding to outsource tasks. This has meant that I have worn many hats and carried the workload of several people in order for Shades of Grace to conduct ministry. I have enjoyed every moment of it and would lay down my life many times over to see God change lives like He has over the past ten years. However, medically, this cannot be sustained. I have encountered a debilitating health crisis because of an overloaded schedule and excessive demands. My body cannot continue this pace…and God is not signaling a supernatural enabling. He is calling me to acknowledge human limits and sabbath rests so that Shades of Grace and I will be here to minister in the future.

Most of the volunteers who helped in previous years are no longer available as they need to be compensated for their work. They had to leave for paying jobs. One volunteer remains, but her time is limited. She is starting her own business as she needs income as well. I understand their need for income as I am in the same position. Those who work in sharing the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8 Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.‘ Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest… 13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:7-14. emphasis added).

It is scriptural for those who work in full-time ministry to receive compensation. This was established first with the Levites who were not permitted to earn a “normal living” but to serve others full time. Of every sacrifice that was brought into the Temple, God allowed the Levites to take a portion as food.

Jesus and the disciples were supported by the gifts of others (see Luke 8:2,3). (If ever anyone could have been self-supporting, it was Jesus, who turned water into wine! Yet Jesus was supported by the gifts of others.) Jesus instructed the disciples not to take money for the journey because “the worker is worthy of his keep” (Mt 10:9-10).

Pray that God will raise up donors — people who will support this work of the gospel through their financial gifts.

Threat of Basic Expenses

Now days, with modern media avenues for ministry, expenses involve more than sustaining staff – they involve sustaining ministry avenues such as a website. Did you know that we pay a monthly fee just to have forms on the website — forms through which people around the world share burdens and prayer requests, seek help, notify us that they’ve prayed the prayer of salvation so that we may send them materials, etc? That is just one monthly fee among many. Although we give ministry for free, behind the scenes there are many associated expenses.

In addition, we’re facing a serious giving gap that threatens our ministry to the people that most need help. Income is down and our outreach is affected. We’re committed to good stewardship and living within our means, just as many families are. But, even so the coming weeks and months are critical. Pray that God will raise up supporters who will partner with us sharing God’s love and grace.

Our supporters’ partnership means that lost men and women come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ! It means that hurting people feel the healing balm of God’s presence. They are revived as He speaks a fresh word into their circumstance. They discover the peace and joy – and promise – of existing by the life of Jesus and the power of God’s Word!

Together, Shades of Grace and our partners have touched thousands of lives … and together we will continue! Together, we will give hurting people hope in the midst of their circumstance. And together, we will see lives eternally changed for His glory!

Men and women all around us are brokenhearted and feeling like life will never get better. They see their trials as pure pain – when instead, trials can serve as an invitation to know God more fully. Suffering can help lead us to abundant life and joy! Jesus Christ can transform our afflictions by filling our hearts with His love and hope – with His grace and strength! This is the message that Shades of Grace and our partners are sharing around the world….

Threat of Not Expanding

Shades of Grace not only needs help (funding) to sustain current ministry, I believe God has called us to expand!

We constantly field requests for expansion. I would love to do so, but it depends upon God’s timing and funding.  I can see countless outreaches that God could use to save souls and share His comfort for life’s trials…but they require a financial breakthrough. They require God raising up donors to the ministry.

Imagine that you have a group of 100 very thirsty, dehydrated desert wanderers. You actually have a ten-gallon jug of water, but the only way to get the water out of the jug is to pour it through a tiny funnel, the opening of which is 1/8th inch wide. This significantly decreases the amount of water that is available for use and it puts enormous pressure on the funnel.

God has deposited in Shades of Grace much comfort and truth for a world of people enduring trials…but until now, it has all had to be funneled through a small, decreasing team.  This significantly reduces the truth and comfort we are able to share and has put enormous physical burden on my body.

Ezra and the Jews needed miraculous protection from the thieves and bandits that threatened their safe journey to the place of expanded ministry (rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem). Shades of Grace and I need miraculous provision and protection against the things that threaten a safe journey to expanded ministry!

God’s Promises

Back in the early 1990’s, when I was seeking God’s will regarding my illness, God spoke through scripture. He showed me that He planned to “turn back my captivity before my eyes” (Zeph. 3:20). Every scripture He spoke at that time also included revelation about a ministry to come. Not only did God refer to “children” or “descendents” as health and abilities taken from me that would return, He also referred to “children” and “descendents” as spiritual children of the ministry that would be.

In 1993 Regarding Spiritual “Children:”

20 The children born during your bereavement will yet say in your hearing,‘This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.’ 21 Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who bore me these? I was bereaved and barren; I was exiled and rejected. Who brought these up? I was left all alone, but these—where have they come from?’”… 25 But this is what the LORD says: “Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save (Isaiah 49:20-21, 25).

In these promises, God said that the people Shades of Grace reaches will “reassign their desolate inheritances” (Isa. 49:3). In other words, there is spiritual territory God has for the recipients of Shades of Grace’ ministry. There is spiritual ground they will possess. They will walk in truth that up until this point of their life has remained desolate and uninhabited (Isa. 49:8). An example of this would be fasting. I cannot tell you how many people are fasting for the first time in their life this year with Pursuit 21.

In these promises, God also spoke of captives that would be delivered and people in darkness He would set free through this ministry (Isa. 49:8-9).

Can you see God speaking years in advance about Shades of Grace? The ministry didn’t even begin until the year 2000, and even then on a small scale.

In 2006, Regarding Shades of Grace and those it reaches:

1 “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD. 2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. 3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities (Isaiah 54:1-3).

If God has used Shades of Grace to touch you in any way, Beloved, this is speaking of you! I fully believe God uses Shades of Grace to help others possess what God has promised them – helping them walk in truth that up until this point of their life has been desolate, uninhabited.

So by no means do I feel God is through. Satan is just fighting incredibly hard to steal, kill and destroy.

Do you see how the Ezra fast applies? Ezra fasted to seek:

  • a right way (God’s will revealed)
  • a safe journey (God’s protection and provision) for them, their possessions (finances) and their “little ones” — their children.

We are fasting today to seek:

  • The “right way” for us — God’s step-by-step guidance
  • God’s protection and provision for Shades of Grace for the sake of the “little ones,” the ones God ministers to through us.

Not until I sat down to proof this post did I realize the intricate correlation and significant reasons why God chose the Ezra fast for our basis today.

  • The Jews had been in captivity. (My illness kept me in captivity.)
  • The Jews reproduced and were bringing descendants back with them to Jerusalem. (In my captivity, God birthed a ministry. The result is spiritual children whose safe journey this fast concerns.)

God Is Faithful to Deliver!

During the 1990’s, when I was so ill and tortured, God spoke through scripture and let me know that the painful season I was enduring was merely the labor before a birth. In hindsight, I see that He was birthing a ministry. At the time, I took it by faith; I could never have comprehended all that God has done.

In 2004, God spoke a word concerning His intentions to fulfill this and all of His promises to me. No matter the threat, God will do what He has said He would do!

Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God (Isaiah 66:9).

Beloved, like Ezra, I want you to know the need. But I also want you to be assured that we pray in hope! We pray with expectancy and anticipation! We pray looking forward to the day we will share how God exceeded our wildest imagination in answering our prayers.

3. For help – for more people on staff and the right people with the right skill and anointing.

This was one of my causes for fasting in January 2010. (As I’ve always taught, God doesn’t always answer when we’re fasting. Often, the answers come later.) In August of 2010, out of the blue, God gave me a word regarding His intention to provide“help.”

For He delivers the needy when he calls out, the poor also and him who has no helper (Psalm 72:12, Amplified).

The NIV says that God delivers “the afflicted…who have no one to help.” The Amplified shows how this promise relates to our financial need, but the NIV speaks verbatim to our need for “help.”

One need was help with Passionate Pursuit. I needed a worship leader. While speaking at a conference in October, God put it on my heart to consider asking the worship leader for the conference (a total stranger) to lead worship at Passionate Pursuit. I planned to pray about it for several days before saying anything to her. But before the day was over, she walked up to me asking how she could help and serve Shades of Grace! God provided that “help!”

Just as God provided this “help,” I believe He will fulfill His word and provide help in all the other ways that Shades of Grace needs help.

One of the cries of my heart on a 40-day fast last year was for “help.” On my fast this year, the Holy Spirit breathed on Isaiah 58:9 in a new way. When we enter God’s chosen fast, He says:

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Even Moses reached the end of what he could do as one person:

17-23 Moses’ father-in-law said, “This is no way to go about it. You’ll burn out, and the people right along with you. This is way too much for you—you can’t do this alone…you need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men—men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible—and appoint them as leaders…They’ll be responsible for the everyday work…They will share your load and that will make it easier for you. If you handle the work this way, you’ll have the strength to carry out whatever God commands you, and the people…will flourish also” (Exodus 18:17-23).

What I have been doing is way too much for me. My body has burned out. I cannot do this alone. I need competent men and women for the everyday work who will share my load and make it easier for me. Then I will be able to truly carry out my assignment from God and those we minister to will flourish because of it.


I believe God wants to bring people to help that are experts in their field, according to a promise spoken in 1993:

23 Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers (Is. 49:23).


I believe God wants to bring help in order that we might expand:

2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. 3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left…”(Isaiah 54:2-3).

In the promise below, God spoke of an expanded ministry — over nineteen years ago, back when He promised to restore my health. At that time, all I had on my mind was playing the piano again and doing “normal people” things. I thought this was what the promise regarded. I could never have imagined all that God has done in fulfillment of this word — and even now, cannot envision how He plans to fulfill it in the future. In other words, I’ve read nothing into this passage. I didn’t claim it in advance of God’s speaking it to me. In fact, it has taken years for me to begin to accept what God has spoken:

“I will also make you a light…that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Is. 49:6).

When He spoke of restoring my health, He spoke of nations seeing His handiwork:

At that time I will bring you in; yes, at that time I will gather you, for I will make you a name and a praise among all the nations of the earth when I reverse your captivity before your eyes, says the Lord. (Zephaniah 3:20).

Can you tell from these promises just how faithful God is? I have done nothing in an attempt to fulfill them myself. I remember how awestruck I was at God when I was on the Life Today television program a few years ago. We didn’t have a website at that time, so I was unfamiliar with the worldwide concept. It was my first television appearance. I sat there with my Bible in the hours prior thinking, “God, You are so faithful to your word. People around the world will see my captivity turned back before their eyes.” In the months that followed, I remained in awe of God as I received letters and emails from people of many nations around the world.

God is faithful to His Word!!

4. My Health

When we enter God’s chosen fast, He promises:

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear (Isaiah 58:8).

Other personal promises for my health include Isaiah 49, Zephaniah 3:19-20, Deut. 7:17-26 (contains promises for SOGM too), and Habakkuk 2:2-3.

Pray also for physical and mental rejuvenation – for fresh strength – and for the time and place to take a sabbatical.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind (Isaiah 40:31).

In Closing

Ezra had a financial problem. He was weighed down with a heavy burden. He needed wisdom. He needed protection and a safe journey to the place of expanded ministry (rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem). Behind their crisis was a very real enemy – robbers and bandits along the way. Ezra did not put his confidence in man; he did not ask the king for soldiers to protect them on the journey. He put his trust, His confidence and expectancy in God when He called the fast!

I believe at the end of this year, we are going to be able to look back, like Ezra, and recall how God answered our fasting and prayer:

“The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem…”
Ezra 8:31

Thank you for joining me in fasting and prayer today. I look forward to rejoicing with you in God’s faithful answers!


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Shades of Grace will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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