Devotionals for Prayer and Fasting
During our 21 days of prayer and fasting, we hope that you would use these daily devotionals to enrich your experience as you replace a daily desire with a deeper desire for God to reveal His will for you in this new year. May these scriptures provide a lifelong foundation for personal growth and joy in your journey.
Focus passage: John 1:1-5
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The first five verses of the Gospel of John is one of the richest passages in the New Testament. To make sure there is no confusion who John was referring to he writes in verse 14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The Gospel of John was written to make sure that we knew this unmistakable truth: Jesus is God. Jesus was not only the Savior who taught us, healed us, cared for us, and died for us…but he also created the universe. He has ultimate power and authority (see Colossians 1:15-17). And because Jesus is the Word who came to us when we needed it the most, we also can know the truth about God.
God can seem very mysterious in the Old Testament…His glory is blinding, His presence is hidden behind a veil, and only a few can enter into His presence. Jesus shows us what God is actually like. Yes, God remains holy and punishes sin but His kindness and mercy are on full display because He takes the punishment upon Himself. Jesus shows us that God is big and strong but also good and kind.
Jesus is infinite, He is the all-powerful Creator, and He can meet the very needs of our heart. If He is able to create the universe and all that it entails, He is more than capable to be sufficient in our lives. Not just as the one who gives us a new and redeemed heart, but as one that satisfies.
How have you seen that God is able to meet the needs in your life?
God, thank you for Jesus. Help me see that you are more than enough.
Suggested Discussion questions for families and kids:
Who is John talking about in verse 1 when he says, “the Word”? (Hint: see verse 14 for the answer).
What amazing thing do we learn about Jesus from verse 3?
How should we think and feel about Jesus knowing that He created all things, and what are some words we should use to describe Him?
Focus passage: John 2: 13-17
Outside of the crucifixion and resurrection, the story of Jesus cleansing the temple is the only event captured in all four Gospels. So there is a certain truth that God wants us to make sure we understand.
It’s okay to be angry about the right things.
Worshippers were being taken advantage of…the temple had become a place of profit instead of a passion. This is why the disciples remembered Psalm 69:9 which says “zeal for your house will consume me.”
Jesus is concerned about worshipping the right way.
When we think about worshipping the right way our thoughts often go to style, song selection, length of service, but Jesus is infinitely more concerned with the attitude of our heart. There have been times in my life where I tried to put this into practice and my focus turned to other people.
“I can’t believe that person is wearing that.”
“Why is that person playing a game on their phone…how disrespectful.”
“Why do those people keep talking!?”
And my righteous indignation wants to take action and flip some tables.
That is the moment when the Holy Spirit gently reminds me that my heart is the problem. Instead of me focusing on the beauty of Jesus or the glory of God, my focus is on people and their faults. In that moment…I become the problem and am reminded of my constant need for grace. Instead of wanting to be like Jesus by making a whip, the greater need is to imitate his heart by being consumed with zeal for God.
How can you increase your passion for God?
God, help me live a life of worship that honors you.
Focus passage: John 3:25-30
“Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase but I must decrease.”
John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin. From the time John was in his mother’s womb until this moment in scripture 30 years later, John had a calling placed on his life. That calling was to be the voice in the wilderness to cry out, “Make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23).
Imagine being called to be second place your whole life. There was literally no opportunity for him to be first, to be the MVP, to get the promotion, to be valedictorian, etc. He would wander in the desert, wear camel hair clothes, and eat locusts with honey. Watch the resiliency of John not only to be second best, but to also humbly and gladly lift up the one who would always be first as he boldly proclaims, “this joy of mine is now complete.”
A few years after my wife and I got married we attempted to bring our first child into this world. Being a mom is something my wife had dreamed about for so many years, so when our first pregnancy ended early on with a miscarriage it was a very difficult time for her. One of her favorite verses that she has held onto over the years is John 3:30, “He must become greater, I must become less.” (NIV)
We have gone on to have two more children, but to watch my wife’s resiliency through a very difficult time when dreams seemed to go unfulfilled was breathtaking to watch. It was hard, and there were many tears shed through the journey. Resiliency is not easy to obtain, for in order to gain resiliency, you have to walk through tough moments.
For many of us, we begin and walk through life with thoughts and dreams of how we think life should go. When it goes a different direction either because of a calling, or uncontrollable circumstances, what can we do? We can rely on the Word of God, and the testimony of others to give us the resiliency to stand firm in our joy that is made complete not in our circumstances, but in our Savior.
What are some small ways you can put Jesus first place in your life today?
God, help me remember that I don’t have to pursue joy, for my joy is already complete in knowing and following Jesus Christ.
Focus passage: John 4:39-42
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
It was high noon in Samaria and she was all alone at the well.
The other women in the community collected their water earlier in the cool of the morning…without her. Perhaps noon was the one time of day she wouldn’t have to hear the whispers or rumors floating around her. Everyone knew she previously had five husbands and was now living with a different man.
But today was different.
“May I have a drink?” Jesus asked the woman.
The Samaritan woman must have been shocked. She knew the Jews despised her people and used disrespectful terms like “dogs” and “half breeds” to describe her village.
Jesus intentionally and lovingly entered into this culturally taboo conversation and this woman’s life was forever changed. Jesus revealed his identity as the Messiah, the Son of God, and offered her acceptance and hope from the living waters of eternal life, from which she will never thirst again. (John 4:13-14)
The Samaritan woman returned to her town saying “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29) They did come and see…and they believed. She went from outcast to accepted; from embarrassment to evangelist. This Samaritan woman impacted her entire community for Christ!
It can be tempting to believe lies and labels you’ve been given. It can be difficult to not let your past define you.
But God tells us we are more than our mistakes (Romans 8:1). He reminds us that we are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are now called His sons and daughters. (1 John 3:1)
The Samaritan woman showed incredible resilience to not let her past define her. Her broken pieces became a masterpiece. Her mess became a message. God can do the same with you.
What false labels are you holding onto today? What is the truth God is reminding you?
God, thank you that you offer living waters of eternal life through Jesus. Help me to take captive every thought and make it obedient to You.
Focus passage: John 5:5-9
“One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.”
I remember having a conversation with a young man recently who was trying to figure out how to get his new business to be a full time career fast. As we talked I shared with him that when the Lord called me to ministry that I volunteered, interned, and worked part time for over 5 years before I got my first paycheck in a full time ministry position. Most of those 5 years I was working multiple jobs to get through school, and make enough money until I could get to that position. It was not easy as I had to learn, grow, train, and wait on the opportunity that God had planned for me.
It was in the waiting that God was preparing me for what He had planned for me to do for His Kingdom. This man at the well had been sitting and waiting for 38 years for someone to come and help him into the pool. When God answered his prayer and pleading, He did not answer with just anyone, but with Jesus
Christ himself. That young man could have long ago given up and never returned to the pool. Do you see his resiliency to come faithfully day after day, and wait by the side of the pool?
More importantly, do you see Jesus Christ show up, see him, and heal him? When our timing doesn’t match up with God’s timing we can choose to get frustrated and give up, or we can choose to be faithful and wait for God’s perfect timing. When we give up to soon we miss the Kingdom moment that was worth all the waiting.
What things are you faithfully waiting for God’s perfect timing?
Lord, when Your timing & Your ways don’t match up with my desires, help me be faithful in the time in-between my asking and You fulfilling.
Focus Passage: John 6: 1-14
“After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?’ Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’“
Invitation: a request asking someone to do something or go somewhere. Have you ever received an invitation that you knew was impossible to fulfill? Maybe your schedule was full or you did not think you had the ability to complete what was being asked of you. There are times in life when we feel as though we cannot accept an invitation that is being offered to us. However, when Jesus extends an invitation we can be confident that He will provide what we need to accept the invitation.
In John 6, Jesus is being followed by a large crowd of people. As He turns his gaze toward the crowd, Jesus extends an invitation to Philip. Jesus asks Philip where they might find bread to feed the massive crowds, and Philip responds with a reliance on human abilities. Philip considers the amount of money it would cost to feed the crowds, an amount that would equal months worth of wages. It was seemingly impossible. Arguably, Philip misses Jesus’ invitation to recognize and believe that Jesus would fulfill the needs of the crowd. Jesus, however, shows Philip and the other disciples that it was not impossible.
In this passage Jesus also extends an invitation to the crowds. Sit. Eat. His hospitality is on full display! Crowds of people were following Jesus because of the signs and wonders he was performing. The thousands of people did not discourage Jesus. He took the five loaves and two fish from a small boy and fed the thousands. John 6:11-12 shows us the heart of Jesus: the people had as much as they wanted; they had their fill. Jesus was concerned with satisfying the physical hunger of the crowds, and as a result He was able to display His power and glory through His hospitality.
What a Savior! He is concerned with every detail of our lives. He invites us into a relationship as He meets our needs in ways that only He can. We are reminded in Philippians 4:19 that “he will supply every need of [ours].” Jesus challenges us to see beyond our current circumstances and rely on His ability and power. How many times have we responded like Philip, struggling to see the “how.” Jesus challenges us to sit before Him and to be nourished: physically and spiritually. How often do we respond like the crowds, in anticipation of His provision? In John 6:35, we are reminded that Jesus is “the bread of life; whoever comes to [him] shall not hunger, and whoever believes in [him] shall not thirst.”
What is God inviting you into today? What will your response be?
Remind yourself today that you are cherished, loved, and pursued by the King of Kings!
Before we begin, would you join me in praying and preparing our hearts for what Jesus has for us? Go ahead and take a moment to ask God to speak to you as you spend this time with Him.
The verse I want to spend our time on today is John 7, verse 2. “Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand.” Most of us have never witnessed this week-long celebration called the Feast of Booths, but this feast was given in thanksgiving for God’s gracious provision towards the Jewish people, both in the past and in the present. God’s present grace is seen in the harvest that has just occurred at this time of year (Deut 16:13-15). His past blessing is seen in his provision during the wilderness wanderings that happened after the exodus from Egypt (Lev 23:39-43).
The beauty of this passage is that even the observances of this feast point to the person of Jesus. A feature of the feast was a series of water offerings each morning in the temple, commemorating the provision of water in the wilderness. This provides a noticeable setting for Jesus’ great invitation to come to Him to drink (7:37-38) since he is the living water (4:10).
Also, lamp lighting ceremonies took place to commemorate the pillar of fire during the Jew’s wanderings in the wilderness. When Jesus proclaims that he is the light of the world (8:12), He did so in the exact location of the temple where the feast’s lamp lighting ceremonies took place.
Jesus is revealed as the fulfillment of the major themes of this feast. The very God to whom they are giving thanks in this wonderful feast has come into their midst (8:58).
Today, would we take time to see and celebrate God’s gracious provision in our life through the person and work of Jesus. The God who gives us each breath we breathe, fulfills our needs, and sees us in our longings. We have been given the greatest gift of all time in His Son for our salvation. If we come to him, we will have living water that never runs dry, and light to lead us in the midst of our days.
Where in the past have you seen God’s gracious provision in your life?
What provision can you celebrate in your life at this present time?
Would you join me in prayer to prepare our hearts for what Jesus has for us. Go ahead and take a moment to ask God to speak to you as you spend this time with him today.
We see in Luke 8:58, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”’ The ancient Greek phrase that Jesus uses in this verse is “ego emi,” which is the same term used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in Bible times (or: that time, those days) to describe the Voice that Moses encountered at the burning bush. Jesus’ use of the divine title belonging to Yahweh alone shows the most authentic affirmation by Jesus of who He was.
The question I want us to ponder today is, “What does this statement mean for us?”
This means that Jesus is God in the flesh, Emmanuel. The Alpha and Omega (beginning and the end). He has always been reigning, is currently, and will always be on his throne. Nothing is out of his control because he is completely sovereign and he is good to us. This is proven by His death on a Roman cross for our penalty of sin and resurrection from the dead to rescue us from the power of sin.
Because of this truth, no matter our circumstance we can trust that God is good and is in control. When we go through heartache, He is with us and He is good. When we are drowning in debt, He is with us and He is good. When we doubt Him, He is with us and He is good. No matter our circumstances, He is with us and He is good.
In what area of your life is it hard to trust God is with you, and that He is good?
Where in your life have you seen God to be trustworthy?