Monday, June 2, 2014
Posted by John Arnold at 4:31 AM
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Posted by John Arnold at 4:03 AM
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Posted by John Arnold at 7:13 AM
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Lent traditionally was a time of fasting. I find fasting to be a spiritual discipline that is nearly lost among mainline church members. One PD Lenten suggestion is to consider fasting once a week and giving the money saved to relieve hunger in your community. The Presbyterian Church is encouraging a similar 40 hour fast to help raise money to relieve hunger in the Sudan. Fasting on Good Friday to focus your attention upon Christ suffering can also be an extremely meaningful experience.
I have done a variety of fasts and have found that it helps me learn to surrender to God more readily, sharpens my prayer focus, puts me in touch with what is truly needed versus desired and helps broaden my general comfort zone. I always find myself a bit humbled by every fast. I realize just how much I am driven by immediate gratification and how fickle my will can be. I find myself turning more fully to God when I realize how much I need his grace and strength to deal with my own petty cravings. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at what a formative experience fasting can be. It is biblical and that should have given me some clue, but I find it to be nearly a lost art. I am not sure I have ever heard a sermon on fasting or had a Sunday school lesson about it. If you are considering fasting, but don't really know much about it, you will want to observe at least the following three tips.
First, fast with a purpose. Biblically, people fasted to show grief and repentance over sin. Sometimes fasting is done for the purpose of discernment. Some people fast in order to be in solidarity with the poor so that they are more mindful of the needs of others and the blessings in their own life. Whatever your reason for fasting make sure that you have a reason beyond just trying fasting. Without a purpose you can expect to get little more than hungry. I typically fast on Good Friday. I use the fast as a tool to focus on Christ's suffering. Whenever I find myself during the fast either reflexively reaching for food or thinking about how hungry I am, I use those moments to recall Christ's suffering. I find this practice draws me nearer to God and makes Easter all the more amazing.
Third, rejoice. When fasting don't draw a lot of attention to yourself. The pharisees were prone to exploiting their fasts to draw peoples' attention toward themselves by looking all pained and morose. Don't complain. Instead, be joyful for the opportunity to be wholly focused upon God with your mind, body and spirit.
PD reader Sue Ellen of Texarkana, just shared with me recently links to several great documents on fasting. (Thanks Sue Ellen) The first is specifically information about the Sudan Hunger project of the Presbyterian Church. The other three are great brief documents on fasting basics. I would encourage you to read them, if you are considering a fast and have never done one before.
- March Fast with Sudan Focus
- Fasting 101: Concrete Considerations When Preparing to Fast
- Fasting as Solidarity
- Fasting: A Spiritually and Socially Transforming Practice
Posted by John Arnold at 9:51 PM
Saturday, February 28, 2009
PD Reader, Susan, in North Carolina, used the creative prayer tip from a recent post and came up with the following that she graciously has allowed me to share.
A pair of scissors...God prunes us, but we are better off for it. He knows EXACTLY what and how much to cut away.A pencil...God gives us the words to say and will erase our errorsA phone...we need to LISTEN for God's message. He is always available to talk to us. (He's always in our area code)A computer...God is ALL WISDOM...(way more than a computer)A staple remover...God will never give us more than we can handle. He'll remove thorns in our side, unless they're bringing glory to Him.
Thanks Susan for sharing. I would love to see more prayers that people have created using the creative prayer technique. Please email them my way at email@example.com or share them as a comment. Blessings.
Posted by John Arnold at 8:00 AM
Thursday, February 26, 2009
As I reviewed recent posts the other day I realized that while I had set up a subscription service for anyone wanting to receive the Lenten devotional excerpts from Christian classics, I failed to list the address for those who might just want to visit. So, here it is: http://lentenmeditations.blogspot.com or just click here. My apologies.
Blessings, from The Practical Disciple
Posted by John Arnold at 9:02 PM
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
If you are still looking for a Lenten discipline option I have just posted three more suggestions at the Practical Disciple Lenten Resource Page. Specifically, I have posted handouts that you can view or download with instructions for writing notes of encouragement and thanks, fasting and contributing the money you save to help the hungry, and a top 40 list of bible passages. I hope these resources are helpful. Once again, thank you for reading the Practical Disciple and may God bless you on your Lenten Journey.
Posted by John Arnold at 2:25 PM