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Prayer and fasting begin in the home

THURSDAY, October 15, 2015: I was wondering what to write about in my diary this week, when someone asked me what he should do in order to prepare his family for the declared national day of prayer and fasting. It hit me that families matter in this issue too!
Oscar was the name of the man who asked. He is in his late forties and has a wife and three children. The eldest child is in his mid-teens. They all come to church and they are truly a wonderful family. Oscar and his wife are very involved in our marriage encounter group.
So, here he was now wondering how to he get his family ready for the national day of prayer and fasting. At that point, it became clear to me that although President Edgar Lungu had asked the church to pray and fast, it was really the families who were to implement this.
Churches were going to organise the public meetings where people would come together to pray and fast. That explains why President Lungu asked the church. But everything starts where every individual lives. This is especially the case with fasting.
I advised Oscar that the best way to prepare his family for the national day of prayer and fasting is to talk about this subject well in advance in the home. Whereas, they had done so as a family when we as a church asked for prayer and fasting, now it was a national level.
It was important for Oscar to show his family from the Bible what happened when leaders called upon their people to seek God’s intervention in a national crisis. This often happened to the nation of Israel and even to Gentiles like the city of Nineveh.
That way, they would understand that President Lungu was not doing anything novel. He rules Zambia under the authority of God. Therefore, in his hour of need he can go back to God to ask for wisdom and grace. It is even better when the whole nation goes with him.
Once the family appreciates what is going on, it was important that the day before the national day of prayer and fasting, Oscar reminds his family about this matter afresh. That way when they wake up today, they would be psychologically prepared.
This is where the heads of homes will play a vital role. church leaders will not be in touch with their church members the day before the national day of prayer and fasting but parents and guardians will be with their children reminding them to pray and fast.
Sadly, the devil often spoils times set apart for prayer and fasting by causing us to sin against God so that God does not listen to us. Hence, I advised Oscar to encourage his family to begin the day with personal confession of sin in genuine heartfelt repentance.
I also advised him to caution the family against quarrelling before they go to church. This is very common. In the last few minutes of getting ready for church, tempers begin to rise, harsh words are used on those who are late in getting ready, and feelings are hurt.
That situation totally destroys the atmosphere of prayer and fasting. So, when Oscar notices short tempers it was his duty to quickly deal with it otherwise his family would arrive at church but be in no spiritual state to really seek God in prayer and fasting.
Lastly, fasting is about keeping away from food. Oscar needed to remind the family at least the evening before that the next day there would be no breakfast and lunch for the participants. They would only have supper at the end of the day of prayer and fasting.
As Oscar had done before, it was important to reiterate why fasting is important. It shows how strongly we feel about the requests we are bringing to God when we even do away with our food. Oscar needed to explain that fasting acts as a catalyst to prayer.
By the time Oscar was leaving, he seemed to be happy with the counsel that I had given him, especially the part to do with explaining to the family the biblical precedence of national leaders asking their people to pray and fast. Prayer and fasting begins in the home!
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