It’s one thing to know God— it’s another thing to open up your heart to God and allow him to speak to you in a deeper way than he ever has before. Prayer and fasting are two of the most powerful ways God has given us to walk deeper in his presence and understand the things he desires for our lives.
As we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ this Easter, we are setting aside the 21 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday to remember the sacrifice of our Lord by praying and fasting as a Church. At Crossroads, we do this every year. Given the uncertain times we’re living in right now, it’s more important than ever that the global Church pray and fast and seek the Lord together.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is when we choose to abstain from something important—typically food, or other important things—for a period of time. When we fast we deny ourselves, and intentionally seek the deeper things God has for us in prayer and in his Word.
What we “consume” in our bodies, our minds, our spirits and our emotions can distract us from our relationship with God. Where are you leaning on things other than God to get you through your day? When we “have to have” anything every day, and we are unwilling to give it up, we are likely relying on that “thing” to sustain us instead of depending fully on God.
Fasting is our way of reclaiming those areas of our lives and devoting our attention to God instead. A season of fasting is the perfect time to set aside anything that’s holding you back or standing in the way of seeing God more clearly.
As a church family, we’re focusing on three methods of fasting this season. You can pick one to practice for all 21 days, or do a different one each of the three weeks of the fast.
- Follow the “Daniel Fast,” a diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains.
- Give up one or two meals a day, and devote those meal times to prayer. Eat normally at the other meals.
- Fast from a non-food item you find yourself dependent on, (e.g. all screen time – TV, social media, recreational use of cell phones, video games).
Join our Crossroads family and believers around the world for 21 Days of prayer and fasting, March 23 to April 12. The following fasting guide is a set of prayer promptings and devotional readings corresponding to our Crossroads Daily Bible Reading Plan.
During these 21 days, take time to worship God in a deeper way, to pray like never before. Write down the things God is putting on your heart, and watch what God does!
When we read the account of Jesus’ arrest, it’s easy to point fingers at Judas, the sole betrayer of Jesus. But in reality, none of the other disciples did anything to prevent Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Peter lashed out at one of the men who came to arrest Jesus, but he ultimately denied Him too. This was no surprise to Jesus though. During the Passover meal, Jesus told His disciples that the person sharing the dipping bowl with Him would betray Him––they all shared food at that meal. Jesus went to the cross in full knowledge that everyone closest to Him would leave Him. And in our own ways, we betray the heart of Christ too. Our freedom was bought by the Son of God who knew we’d betray Him too if given the chance. Because Jesus’ loyalty to us doesn’t depend on our loyalty to Him, we can follow him in freedom, obeying not out of fear, but out of love.
Holy Spirit, search my heart and show me any ways in which my actions betray your heart. Make me whole-hearted in my love of you. Thank you, Lord, for your sacrifice.
In the darkest, loneliest hour of Jesus’ time on earth, He was alone. Even His closeness to the Father was severed, as He took the full weight of our sins upon Himself. It was in this place of lonely suffering that two unexpected men stepped into the unpopular spotlight: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. These two men had followed Jesus in secret throughout His ministry. When everyone else had fled, it was Joseph and Nicodemus who honored Jesus in burial. They followed Jesus long after the crowds had fled and even the disciples had disappeared. Following Jesus, while life-giving and vital, can sometimes result in lonely moments. When it is not the popular thing, when the crowds have fled, our decision is the same one that Joseph and Nicodemus made: will we still follow Jesus, if we do so alone? Our example is the Savior who endured the shame, the separation and the cross so that He could draw near to us. In His Presence, we are never truly alone.
Lord, give me the strength to obey and follow You, even if the path is lonely. Teach me how to take comfort in Your presence. Thank You for enduring the cross to be with me.
Jesus could have returned from the dead in a variety of ways, with thunder and judgment on His enemies or a bright flash of light to His disciples. Instead, He chose to have a quiet conversation with a woman weeping in a garden. Notice Mary’s focus in this passage. She sees two bright angels in the empty tomb and does not even blink. She is not looking for angels. She is looking for Jesus and will not be distracted. Do we look for Jesus with that kind of persistence? When our circumstances feel hopeless, it is our opportunity to search for Jesus, and like Mary, we shall find Him. She did not recognize Jesus, until He said her name, and in that moment, she was forever changed by the good news: Jesus is risen. Continue to press in, to search for Jesus. He is near, even when we do not recognize him. Listen for the voice of the risen Savior. He is calling your name.
Lord, I choose to wait here, in my uncertain circumstances, listening for Your voice. The voices of men and angels may be all around me, but it is Your voice I long to hear. Thank You for calling me by name.
John 21- Acts 1
When Peter was first introduced to Jesus in John 1, Jesus called him by his full name: Simon, son of John. The first thing that Peter learned about Jesus was that this Rabbi knew him, knew who he was and where he had come from. Here in the last chapter of John, Jesus calls Peter by that same name. After all the ups and downs, the walking on water, the sinking and the denial, Jesus looks at Peter and reminds him that he is known. Regardless of where we have been, what we have done, or how we have fallen, Jesus still knows who we are and where we came from. He is still looking at us in love, repeating the question, “Do you love Me?” His invitation, asked from the beginning, has not changed: “Follow Me.”
Lord Jesus, You know all things. You know who I am, You know where I have been, and You know what I have done. You know that I love You. Thank You for Your forgiveness and restoration. Teach me how to follow You.
When the Spirit moves, Jesus is glorified. When the Spirit moves, the people of God are made bold. When the Spirit moves, not everyone understands, but they cannot help but be drawn. This has been true since the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended, and it is still true today. Though it will certainly look differently from anything we imagined, be confident, and be comforted. The same Spirit which descended in Jerusalem is at work among us. Our response to this truth should reflect the response of the disciples. Let us devote ourselves to sound teaching and prayer. Let us work in the gifts which God has given us, living in a sense of wonder, waiting to see how He will move in our day. Let us look expectantly to our God, who adds to his Church daily.
Holy Spirit, we desire to see You at work among us and to see Jesus glorified in every season. You have poured out Your Spirit on the Crossroads family, and we have seen it. Make us bold, fill us with wonder. Our eyes are on You.
To Peter and John, the sight of this disabled beggar at the temple gate was the most common sight in the world. He was laid at the gate “daily,” meaning that every time Peter and John had passed through that gate, they had passed this man in his brokenness and his pain. When they passed on this particular day, however, something was different. They were now filled with the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, a commonplace vision of brokenness and pain became an opportunity to see God at work. All of us have situations in our lives where we are so used to seeing pain and brokenness that we cease to see it. We pass by that broken relationship, that stronghold of sin, that person in pain again and again. As children of God, full of the Holy Spirit, may we pause today, recognize those places of pain and pray for God to do a healing work.
Holy Spirit, open my eyes. Show me the common places of pain and brokenness. You are the God of resurrection and restoration. Give me faith to see these places of pain as an opportunity for Your power.
What do our actions and reactions say about us? Just as the crowds watched Peter and John, the unsaved world watches the Church in moments of confusion and uncertainty. When the rulers and elders saw the boldness of Peter and John, there was only one explanation––these men had been with Jesus. The beautiful thing about this statement is that their witness was not dependent on their own talents or intelligence, just the opposite. These men knew who Peter and John were: they were nobody special. They were not well educated. They were “common men.” Our message and our calling are not dependent upon our talents or intelligence. When we serve this broken world, when we proclaim what Jesus has done, the only explanation for our boldness should be that we have been in the presence of Jesus.
Lord, help me to remember Your presence today. I want my actions and reactions to come from the peace I have in You. Give me boldness, and help my thoughts, words and life reflect Your character.
The Church, from her earliest days, was resilient in the face of difficulty. The frustration of the religious leaders is obvious in the story. As soon as they sent these men to prison, they were out preaching the gospel again, finding new avenues to preach the good news. After such a season of miracles and such a positive response to the gospel, it would have been easy for the followers of Jesus to grow discouraged. However, they left the council “rejoicing.” This was the beginning of the persecution of the Church, but it was also the beginning of the spread of the gospel. As the believers in Jerusalem were persecuted, they had no choice but to spread out further and take the gospel with them. The disciples’ response to difficulty was to gather “from house to house” and preach Jesus Christ to a dying world. Though our difficulties may be different, our response should be the same.
Lord, I thank You for the difficulties in my life, even though I do not understand why You have allowed them. I see that You are at work all around me, and I choose to respond with joy. Show me how these difficulties can help me to spread the gospel to a dying world.
When we hear the word “ministry,” certain images come to mind. We picture preachers and teachers and probably someone with a guitar. We do not often picture the mundane, everyday tasks, of which there are so many. The seven men chosen to serve food were chosen because they had a reputation of being filled with the Holy Spirit. At least two of them took this mundane task so seriously and were so faithful in it that God used them to transform their world. Stephen and Philip are remembered as the martyr and the evangelist. In Acts chapter 6, they were just the guys who showed up and served food, and because they showed up faithfully, God used them. What mundane tasks has God placed in our lives right now? How can we be faithful in this everyday ministry?
Lord, help me to keep showing up. I want to be faithful in the work You have called me to do, even if it’s not glamorous. I offer myself as the servant You have called me to be. I want to do what You have asked me to do, no matter what that looks like.
The address and death of Stephen is a well-known story and an important one in church history. While his speech was inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is important to remember that Stephen’s speech was not simply spun out of thin air. Stephen was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. When his moment of testing came, he was ready because he had worked those muscles of faith for years. He knew the history of God’s faithfulness, and he knew what Jesus had done in the face of death. Responding the way that Jesus would respond was second nature because Stephen was prayerful and ready to go. Whether this is a season of testing or a season of preparation, we are called to be those who know the faithfulness of God and respond like our Lord.
Jesus, I have seen Your faithfulness in my life and in the lives of those around me. Help me to respond to difficulty the way that You did and to be faithful when I am tested.
The story of Philip is so compelling that we sometimes forget the circumstances that brought it about. Philip had just lost his friend and co-laborer, Stephen, who was brutally martyred. A man named Saul was determined to destroy the Church. It was a time of uncertainty for believers, and yet Philip was not acting in fear, but by the leading of the Holy Spirit. His own life was uncertain, and he took time to notice the people that God had placed in his path. Philip’s focus was not on himself, but on his community and his world. He listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and simply asked questions. As we seek to reach our community and our world in a time of uncertainty, a simple question can open the door for the gospel. The world does not understand the faith which gives us peace, and how can they unless someone guides them?
Lord, give me a glimpse of Your love for my community and my world. Help me not to become so focused on my own problems that I miss the opportunities to share Your love with those around me.
Do we truly believe in the transforming work of Jesus Christ? Do we believe in the God who brings the dead to life, or do we simply believe in a God who makes good people into better people? We are challenged with this question when we encounter people like Saul of Tarsus. The early church struggled to believe as much as we do today. Ananias, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, had his doubts. The leaders in Jerusalem, who were trying to protect their church, were all afraid. In their mind, Saul of Tarsus was past hope. They had not dreamed that he would encounter Jesus, and they certainly didn’t foresee that he would become Paul the Apostle. To believe in Jesus is to believe in His transforming power. How much more would we pray for ourselves, our friends, and our enemies, if we dared to believe in that transforming work?
Jesus, You are a God who raises the dead to life. You met Saul on the road when everyone else believed that he was past hope. I choose to trust in Your transforming power today, for myself, for my community, and for my enemies. I believe. Lord, help my unbelief.
Every child is born with the basic blueprints for life. Everything they will need to become adults is within them, but it is not yet fully realized. That process takes years. The early Church was no different. When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, the Church had all that it needed for life and godliness, but it did not happen all at once. The Book of Acts is the story of that unfolding, of the Church growing, learning, and developing into who Christ meant it to be. Acts 10 is a kind of growth spurt for the Church. Until then, all believers had been of the Jewish faith, but when Cornelius and his family were saved, something shifted. Peter watched as the Holy Spirit descended on the Gentiles, just as He had on the Jews at Pentecost. Suddenly it became clear that God so loved “the world,” that His Son had been sent to save humanity, and that the Spirit would be poured out on all who asked.
Lord Jesus, thank You for loving the whole world and for pouring out Your Spirit on us. Help us to follow You with the kind of faith that Peter did as You lead us into new areas by Your Spirit.
We are reminded in Acts 11 that the Church, while experiencing incredible works of God, was in a season of suffering. Ever since the death of Stephen, they had been driven apart by persecution. The sweet days of the whole church gathering in an upper room were gone as they were scattered by persecution. The believers we see in this story, however, were not in despair. They rejoiced over the salvation of the Gentiles and with this knowledge, they spread the gospel even further. Although the Church was separated by distance, they were bound together by their care for one another. Each believer worked, “according to his ability” to bring relief in a difficult time.
Lord, how can I bring relief to my brothers and sisters in the faith? What acts of kindness can I extend toward those who are suffering or in pain? I wait on You as the early church did, offering you my abilities.
The story of Peter and the story of Herod stand in contrast to one another in this chapter. Herod lived as if his earthly kingdom was forever. In his showy arrogance, he was suddenly cut down. The life he had put so much stock in was gone in seconds. Compare this to the unimportant former fisherman locked in a prison cell. There was every possibility that they would have killed Peter, as they had recently killed his friend James. Yet Peter seemed not at all disturbed. He slept so soundly that his rescuer needed to wake him up! He counted his life as lost, trusting His Lord, and through no power of his own, his life was preserved. How many of our everyday activities are simply designed to further our own kingdom? Can we rest, like Peter, in the fact that our home is in Heaven, and our God is in control?
Father, I know that You are in control. Help me to keep my focus on You and to further Your Kingdom instead of my own.
As we have called 2020 our Year of Renewal, the Crossroads family has seen the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts in action. The first three verses of Acts 13 are such a beautiful example of mature believers experiencing a supernatural work of God. We are told that the Church leaders of Antioch prayed and fasted together. As they sought the Lord together, the Spirit of God called Barnabas and Saul to a new ministry together. They did three things in response to this Word from God: 1. They continued fasting and praying. 2. They commissioned Paul and Barnabas. 3. They obeyed. What is God saying to us as we pray and fast together for these twenty-one days? Is He leading us or someone around us into a new area of ministry? As God leads our Church family, let us continue our fasting and prayer, pray over the ministry He has set before us and obey His voice.
Holy Spirit, I wait on you in fasting and in prayer. I want to hear Your voice. If You are calling me into a new area of ministry, I want to follow You. In the ministry You’ve already given me, I want to obey You.
The faith we profess is a tenacious faith. It is a faith which follows God into uncertainty and shakes off death. Reading the account of Paul’s stoning at Lystra, we understand how he could go on to write, “We are hard pressed on every side; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (1 Cor. 4:8-9 NKJV). Paul lived out the message he preached. When he was inconvenienced, he did not despair. When he was discouraged, he grew even more bold. When he was struck down, he got back up and continued to preach the gospel. What areas of our lives perplex us or beat us down? Take courage. Our faith is the faith which rises again and again.
Lord Jesus, I give You the areas of my life where I feel beaten down. Please give me the strength to get back up and preach Your good news to this lost and broken world.
We live in an age of strife and division, but it should not be so among God’s people. This lost world will know that we are Christ’s disciples by our love for one another. However, the enemy and our own human nature so often stand in the way of this. In Acts 15, a disagreement arose which could have torn the Church apart. However, the leaders in Jerusalem sought God and responded with the leading of the Holy Spirit. Rather than the Church splitting into Jews and Gentiles, they were united. In comparison, Paul and Barnabas, the ministry dream team, were divided over a small disagreement. As we continue to seek God together, we must be prayerfully aware of the places where the enemy or our own selfishness might cause division. Let us be known for our love for one another.
Lord, help me to see my own blindspots, those places which could cause division. Help me to love Your people well as we seek You together.
Paul and Silas did exactly what the Holy Spirit led them to do. They were sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and followed His specific instructions. Imprisonment was probably not what they had in mind as they launched into their Macedonian mission opportunity. When midnight came, however, they were worshiping. Their faithfulness extended beyond their circumstances. Even when the outcome was uncertain, they worshiped. They followed the example of Jesus, who was faithful in His darkest hour, even unto death. If God leads us to a place of darkness, a place of difficulty, He is still at work. Our response should be the response of Paul and of Silas, to worship. We worship through the difficulty and through the uncertainty, trusting that the God who called us, who gave His life for us, is faithful.
Lord, I want to follow You with boldness. I want to trust Your leading, even when I cannot see a way out. Thank You for Your sacrifice and for the darkness You endured for the joy set before You.
When we witness the evil of this world, it sickens the spirit within us. This was the case for Paul as he walked through the idols of Athens. He could’ve easily let this feeling in his spirit make him angry or annoyed or apathetic toward the people of Athens. Instead, Paul looked deeper. He chose to see the deeper need and the deeper hunger of the broken people around him. He saw a group of people, crying out to a god they did not know, and he had compassion. We live in a world full of people, crying out for significance, for peace, and for the God they do not know. Many are not even aware that He is what they are searching for, and they go about their search in the most broken and damaging ways. Like Paul, it is our responsibility to be repulsed by sin but have compassion for the lost.
Dear Jesus, I see the brokenness of this world, and it provokes my spirit. Open my eyes, Lord. Help me to see past actions to the broken people, who are searching for You.
The remainder of the Book of Acts follows Paul on his tenacious journey through the known world, preaching the gospel. The same God who raised Jesus from the dead, poured out His Spirit and extended the good news of the gospel to a broken world. The early church responded in faithfulness, in boldness, and in courage. The same God extends the same good news to you and I today. The same Spirit draws us into deeper relationship with Jesus. Let us, the Church of Jesus Christ, respond like the disciples. In our devotion and our relationships, let us be faithful. In our ministry and mission, let us be bold. As we follow Jesus together, let us walk in courage.
Lord Jesus, we celebrate Your resurrection today. We believe in the power of God which raised You from the dead. We choose to follow You today in faithfulness, in boldness, and in courage. Lead us on.