Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

A November Fast

profileI just returned from an Emmaus weekend and feel compelled to improve my walk with Jesus. One of my dying moments was to deny myself more and follow Jesus even more. One way I plan do this is through a fast during the month of November (this will be more than a food fast). I would like to invite others to join me. I will describe my fast and write about it on my blog page. You can join me in the fast I am walking or create your own. I would love to read what you are doing if you are fasting and walk along with you for encouragement.

My fast will be a progressive fast, meaning I will add things to my fast as the month goes along. I will tackle one thing each week and try to stay with the preceding week’s fast as I add another item during the next week. If you would like to join me but what I have listed as my fast item doesn’t work for you (maybe what I pick is not a desire for you or you have already defeated it) add something of your own.

Challenge yourself. Do not give up something that is not hard to give up. I haven’t decided yet what to give up on week 2 through 4 plus a three-day tough challenge at the end of the month but I will list them on my blog page as God reveals them to me.

Here are the week segments.
Week 1 – November 1-7 – snack foods and candies
Week 2 – November 8-14
Week 3 – November 15-21
Week 4 – November 22-28
Extra – November 29-31

Week one I have decided to give up snacks. During this week I will refrain from eating any snack foods and candies (for me these include chips, most nuts, candies, ice cream and other empty high calorie items). I will strive to eat nothing after I eat my evening meal. If I have to snack between meals it will be with fruits and vegetables but I will strive to only eat at meal time. The fast is from snacks and candies.

When I crave what I am fasting from each week, I will begin to pray, seeking His face, while desiring His grace. The more I crave, the more I will be adding time to my prayer life, a win-win situation for sure, defeating a craving and spending more time with Jesus.

A fast, for me, is taking spiritual control over a physical desire. My prayer is that after the month of November I will have more spiritual control over a number of physical desires – cravings in my life. I also pray that my walk with Jesus will be deeper and more personal. Won’t you join me?

October 28, 2013 Posted by | Community, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer | , , , | 3 Comments

Dive in and Trust Jesus – Day 21 of 21 Prayer/Fast

Ezekiel 47:5

He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in — a river that no one could cross.

RayBlogI know some will call me old – but one of my favorite praise/worship songs is sung by Steven Curtis Chapman – titled Dive.  It came out in the 90’s I think – so it isn’t considered contemporary anymore by some – but I love it!  You can find it by clicking the word Dive or by going to this link.

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As we finish our 21 day prayer/fast today – I want to challenge us to dive in!  You might wonder – why are you challenging us to dive in now – why not on day one or even before the prayer/fast began?  I’m challenging us to dive in today because it is not about what we have done but what we will do that counts moving forward.  Of course I’m not talking about works righteousness – God’s grace covers our sins – but as witnesses to the world – how we live our lives says so much about the Jesus we proclaim. Continue reading

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Fast | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Continuing Our Walk With Jesus – Day 20 of 21 Prayer/Fast

Zechariah 7:5

“Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?

RayBlogTwo days left in our 21 Day Prayer/Fast – today and tomorrow.  Here’s a great question – are you more interested today in ending the fast so you can go back to whatever you fasted from or continuing a deeper walk with Jesus?  Be honest!  Has our 21 days of praying and fasting altered our life?  Are we walking a closer walk with Jesus?  Are we forever changed?

You can read today’s lesson on YouVersion here.  The Scripture for today is Zechariah 7:1-14.

Today’s reading has the following question – “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?  It is a question we need to ask ourselves today – did we fast and pray to be closer to Jesus or for some other reason?

21 day prayer fastI would imagine that if we weren’t sincere – we would have bailed by now – or we didn’t fast from anything significant.  I mean – if we fasted from liver for example – for me that wouldn’t have been hard – I have been fasting from liver for all of my adult life!!

So – use today – Sunday – January 20th – to reflect on how the prayer/fast has impacted your life.  As we worship today – wherever we may worship – in a house of worship or in some other place – seek to understand your reason for entering the prayer/fast.  And as the days unfold after the prayer/fast – what is it we will be seeking?

Will you enter a new fast?  Will you spend more time in prayer than before the prayer/fast?  Will you seek His face in different and increasing ways?  Will you feel a deeper closeness after the prayer/fast – deeper than you felt beforehand?

Continuing our walk with Jesus is very important.  The end of the prayer/fast on Monday night or Tuesday morning should not end our deeper walk with Jesus.  Our hope when we started was to find a closer relationship with the King of Kings – the Lord of Lords – Jesus.  Have you accomplished this?  Was the prayer/fast worth the journey?

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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January 20, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Fast | , , , | Leave a comment

Better Is One Day In God’s Courts – Day 19 of 21 Prayer/Fast

Psalm 84:10

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

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Better is One Day is one of my favorite contemporary worship songs.  In the YouTube link I provided the song is presented by Matt Redman and company.  It is a powerful reminder as we enter the last days of our 21 Day Prayer/Fast that being in the presence of God is better than anything else in all of creation.  NOTHING can compare with being in the presence of God! Continue reading

January 19, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Fast | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rend Your Heart – Day 18 of 21 Prayer/Fast

Joel 2:13

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

RayBlogI want to quote the reading from today’s lesson from the 21 Day Fast reading.  Tear your hearts instead.  You can finish strong by making sure you are weeping and mourning and tearing your heart open wide to allow God’s power and presence to sweep across the landscape of your life.  Tell God today that you are baring your heart before His mercy, compassion, and unfailing love.  I loved that phrase – allow God’s power and presence to sweep across the landscape of your life.  Allow God to have your past – present and future – your whole life!

The passage from today’s reading (you can read it all with this link – Joel 2:12-32) talks about repentance and baring one’s soul before God – as we open our hearts before Him.  Verse 13 reads – Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.  The hope is that during our 21 day prayer/fast we have had such times as this where we lay before the Lord and confessed and repented – baring our hearts and souls.  In the days of old they practiced rending – tearing – their garments as a sign of their repentance.  The passage tells us to not simply show the outward signs of repentance – but show our heart to God – to rend the heart before God.  The outward signs can be faked – but the inward is real!

21-day-Daniel-FastDuring this 21 day prayer/fast I have had several times where I laid and wept before the Lord.  I couldn’t even come up with words a few times and the Spirit had to utter words for me because I was in such a state of anguish as I laid my heart open before the Lord.  It was a powerful and cleansing time.  After that time of prayer I felt release and the Lord’s presence so powerfully.  Have we experienced this during our prayer/fast?  I pray we have and if not – there are still a few days left – rend your heart and seek His face!

Later in today’s reading we find what happens when we seek the face of God and rend our hearts – Joel 2:27-29 – 27 Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.  28 ‘And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

The Holy Spirit will come upon the people of God as His people seek Him with sincere and contrite hearts.  When we seek His face with open hearts – God will release us and pour out His Spirit on us.  I love this passage found in Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  As we rend our hearts and seek after the heart of God – God will release us from the worries of the world and bless us with His presence.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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January 18, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Fast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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