Sunday, July 6, 2008

Prayer and Fasting for Rosebud - Principles and Resources

Today we begin 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting to support the Rosebud Reservation's "War on Suicide." The campaign will go through and including Thursday, August 14th.

Some principles:
  1. Penitence (Confession of sin). Always remember that the Reservations are a creation of the U.S. Government and White culture, including the church. Much of the suffering on the Rosebud is the direct result of White Christian destruction of the Tribal way of life. Always search your heart for any trace of racial pride, judgmental thoughts toward Indians, or misguided desire to "fix them." Prayerfully submit to the truth of Galatians 3:28, There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
  2. Humility. Our task here is to lift a need to God in prayer. Not everybody will appreciate this or even agree with this approach. Not all Indians are Christians and some are suspicious of Christianity. Let's just do the work of prayer as God has given it, and let God fill in the details and outcomes. This is about God, not ourselves. If you find your own ego getting too big, go back to #1!
  3. Servanthood. Tribal Chairman Rodney Bordeaux has asked for a "war on suicide" - let's stay on that focus in our prayers. Let's avoid any hidden agendas and focus on helping to bring this need to God for help, as servants of those in need.


A way to think about prayer: Although out of print, Dudley Hall's Incense & Thunder is available around the web. Hall says, "We send up the incense. (God) sends down the thunder." Our prayers are like incense, burning in us here and going up to God as a fragrant smoke. God responds like "thunder", coming invisibly to surprise and shake up the world. Although we cannot dictate the nature or timing of God's response, we know that He is pleased when we offer prayer.

Some notes on fasting: Fasting is to deny ourselves a need or pleasure. This does not manipulate God into giving us anything, but it makes us closer to Christ, who denied himself all heavenly glory and pleasure to do the Father's will. You will discover that your Bible reading and praying can be more intense and clear when you fast.

Do not engage in fasting that endangers your health (if you are diabetic, for example). There is no one way to fast - you can skip TV or a favorite show, for example. Any kind of self-denial can be productive spiritual time.

Fridays, which remind us of Jesus' crucifixion, are traditional fast days - but you need not limit yourself or be legalistic about this.


A model for fasting:

Preparatory Reading

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

II Corinthians 12:7-10, NIV

Prayer of Oblation (offering yourself to God)

Lord, I am going to deny my desire for (specify what you will give up) for (specify how long you will do without it). I believe that your grace, strength and power can be abundant for the needy weakness of my flesh.

I offer this fast on behalf of the Rosebud Reservation's war on suicide. Make me able to pray for them in accordance with your purposes: let your grace overcome the selfishness of my flesh; let your strength overcome the weakness of my flesh; let your power overcome the limitations of my flesh. I ask this for your sake, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Offer Your Specific Prayers for Rosebud War on Suicide…

(You might keep a list of your prayers over the 40 days. Also check the daily posts and also the blog comments for prayer insights.)

Prayers of Recollection (Call these to mind throughout your fast, especially when aware of discomfort):

When fasting from food: " does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4)

When fasting from drink: "But (King David) refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD." (II Samuel 23:16; I Chronicles 11:18)

When husband and wife mutually offer abstention from marital relations (see I Corinthians 7:5 for guidance): " lord's men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife?" (II Samuel 11:11)

When fasting from other amusements or behaviors: "O let not mine heart be inclined to any evil thing; * let me not be occupied in ungodly works with the men that work wickedness, neither let me eat of such things as please them." (The One Hundred Forty-First Psalm).

A Reading to End the Fast
And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Matthew 6:16-18, NLT

Concluding Prayers
O Lord, show thy mercy upon us.
And grant us thy salvation.
O God, make clean our hearts within us.
And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.

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