I am writing this on February 10, but many of you will be reading this in early March when our monthly newsletters are printed and distributed. By that time, the title above should read “Focus 40 has come!”
This is the second year in which the Church of God movement has put together this event, “Focus 40,” which is to be an intentional time of prayer and fasting during the 40 days leading up to Easter. Last year’s emphasis was on prayer and fasting for spiritual renewal and revitalization; this year’s emphasis is on prayer and fasting for specific people to come to know the Lord.
Prayer and fasting often appear together in our scriptures. Perhaps most notably, Jesus spent 40 days fasting (and presumably praying) in the wilderness just before beginning his ministry on earth (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13). In the Old Testament, Moses fasted for 40 days on two different occasions while he received the tablets of the law of God (Deuteronomy 9:7-21). In the New Testament, the apostles appointed leaders for young churches after praying and fasting to determine God’s will (Acts 14:23).
This year, we are gathering together as Church of God people in a concerted effort to pray and fast regarding those friends, family members, and acquaintances we have who are not in a saving relationship with Jesus. This is surely very important work! We cannot keep the good news of the kingdom of God to ourselves; we are called to make disciples and to instruct others to keep Christ’s commands.
I encourage you, friends, in the time leading up to Easter (and beyond!): invest yourself in prayer for people who do not know the Lord. If you are able, skip a meal once in a while and use that time and energy to come before God in prayer. If you feel led to do so, fast for longer periods of time. (Remember that you should discuss any extended fast – even for a few days – with your doctor ahead of time.)
Let us pray that we will see a new generation of believers come to know the Lord in our midst!