Dear Agapé family,

Beginning today, I will be using blog posts to guide you in your prayers if you choose to take an hour to fast each week. Typically other believers in Rogers Park will be fasting on Tuesdays for lunch, but if that does not work, I strongly encourage you to take any meal you can take to fast (forego eating) and pray for an hour. Helping you all in your time of prayer will be a great joy to me. Before I give you some help for the first week we are doing this together, let me just remind you of what Jesus said about fasting from Matthew 6:16-18:

16 When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

I highlighted the words Jesus gave his disciples, “when you fast” because Jesus did suggest here and elsewhere that while he was away, his disciples would fast. In other words, fasting is something that Jesus invites his disciples to do for their sake (everything Jesus invites us to do is ultimately for our good). Now for some help in this first week. You can use my prayer as a model for your prayers this week.

Father, our Father in Heaven, life feels out of control in your world. We do not see your hand. We also overlook your many mercies, including the gift of family, friends, and neighbors. Life means little to so many of us. We see this in Nigeria as Boko Haram slays many innocent people. But we see this more immediately in Chicago as neighbor slays neighbor. God we do not value the life you give, so help us we pray. Start with your church, the body of Jesus here on earth–as we do not love each other like Jesus taught us. We backbite, belittle, and bicker. Make us as one, Father, as you and Jesus are one (John 17). Help us experience the fullness of your peace that we might shine the light of peace in a darkened world. Through us bring more peace to our ravaged city where children are shot down before they are even old enough to drive. Help us bring the peace that comes when someone confesses your Son and knows that they are at peace with you. Help us as your body, the body of Christ, unite for the good of Chicago–help us to put away our petty divisions and love one another. Help us to live as family. We ask this that your name might be praised here, today. We love you. Amen.