By Eitan Shishkoff
The Hebrew word for revival is "awakening." As a community, we
recently set aside five days to fast and pray for spiritual awakening.
Sensing a dryness of routine, longing for more of Messiah's resurrection
life, feeling too distant from our fellow Israelis - the Tents of Mercy
elders decided it was time take action.
Each day we gathered morning and evening to seek the face of God, to
renew our passion for Yeshua. The experience of His presence was our
reward. Cleansing, clarity, inspiration, heavenly perspective and a fresh
burden for our neighbors - all of these came to us as we waited on the
Lord (Isaiah 40:31). We began each session with praise and worship to
fulfill our priestly calling to minister to the Lord, to bless Him day
and night. Fittingly, the Torah portion that week pictured Israel's
priests, washed, anointed and dressed in regal colors.
FASTING: PUNISHMENT OR GATEWAY?
Fasting is a funny thing. At first it seems like such outright
self-punishment. But when the body adjusts, and when we build this
phenomenal spiritual tool into our physiological memory, it becomes an
amazing gateway to rediscover the wonders of knowing our God. In the
Scriptures, corporate fasts released dramatic deliverance, repentance,
revelation and revival in the times of Jehoshaphat, Jonah, Esther, Ezra,
Nehemiah, Paul and others. The prophet Joel, specifically addressing the
end times, says "Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the
elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord
your God and cry out to the Lord...for the day of the Lord is at hand ...
Let the priests who minister to the Lord weep between the porch and the
altar; Let them say 'Spare your people, O Lord.'"
The prophet tells us not to fear, but to be glad and rejoice for the Lord
has done marvelous things (2:21). He envisions a time of the Spirit
being poured out and a bountiful harvest. And this is in the midst of
the last days' shakings! I hear Joel telling us, that to prepare
ourselves for the coming catastrophes and unprecedented opportunities we
must gather together as God's people, offering ourselves to Him with
fasting and prayer, worship and waiting. This is not to minimize
humanitarian aid, discipling or evangelism. Those must continue to
increase as we approach Yeshua's return. But the readying of our spirits
requires this emptying of our own strength and receiving His When we fast
there is literally less of us and more of Him.
REND THE HEAVENS!
From day to day the word of God became more precious, more alive. Our
devotion increased and a tenderness of heart set in. Tears were not
unusual as the Spirit dealt with our hardness of heart and
self-centeredness. Then He broke us with His burden for the lost,
diseased, raped, oppressed, and the dying all around us. Certain themes
and areas of intercession gripped us. We are only beginning to learn the
"dance" of the Lord. Slowing down to allow Him to impart more of His
heart in a specific district of prayer. At other times the crescendo of
spiritual warfare rises and He wants to catch us up in His fervor against
the enemy - contending for those who are bound, clearing obstacles to
Rend the heavens and come down!" from Isaiah 64:1 was the cry of
our heart heading into the five days. We called on the Lord to revive us
(Habakkuk 3:2; Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 89:6-9). We interceded for healing in
our families and especially for our men to take their places of
compassionate spiritual leadership (out of this is coming a fresh season
of ministry to men in our congregation). Raising up the next generation
of Israeli disciples was another intercessory focus - to see our youth
and young adults liberated to love and live for Yeshua whole-heartedly.
Concerned for our brothers and sisters in Arad and Ashkelon, who are
buffeted by persecution with public demonstrations against their
Messianic faith, we brought them before the Throne of Grace. Though the
earthquake and Tsunami had not yet hit Japan, the streets of Tunisia,
Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen were shaking with protesting
citizens. We asked God for protection on the believers and freedom for
the gospel in these insecure places.
This all sounds good, but there are challenges along the way. Though our
congregation is a Hebrew-speaking assembly, we are multi-lingual
congregation. In order to understand what someone is praying, their
prayer must be translated into at least two other languages. This can
make it mighty hard to keep a flow of anointed prayer going. We are also
multi-generational. We took one night to incorporate the young people;
they led the worship and prayer. But in order to hear their earnest
prayers we had to ask the older folks to ease off and give the kids a
chance. I sometimes think that corporate prayer is both the most
difficult facet of spiritual community to pull off and the most rewarding.
There is nothing of "automatic pilot" in leading these meetings. It
requires a discerning, Spirit-filled leader, capable of drawing out
participation, staying on topic and coordinating with the worship team.
I especially enjoyed sharing this duty with Avishalom, our local pastor
and Andrey, our youth pastor. Meeting with God for the seemingly simple
purpose of worship and prayer, harps and bowls, involves a battle for
unity, Holy Spirit flow, relevance and hearing from God.
WE ARE HIS SONS AND DAUGHTERS!
On the last day of our fasting season, we were met by a stirring emphasis
from the Lord. During the mornings and evenings of worship and prayer we
had been drawn to the phenomenal truth that He has adopted us as His sons
and daughters "who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13) It felt as if
we were discovering this most basic aspect of our relationship with the
Father for the first time. We realized that it changes everything. If
we are sons and daughters of the Ruler of the universe, what do we lack?
What can we not accomplish when walking in His will? We need never be
alone, rejected, fearful, defeated, robbed. In contrast to an "orphan
spirit" that always expects to be exploited, passed by and left without -
the spirit of adoption cries "Abba, Father...and if children, then
heirs with Messiah" (Romans 8:15,17 [WOW!])
Twenty years ago Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro starred in a film
called "Awakenings." It was based on a true story of a doctor who
brought his patient out of a catatonic state. The patient awoke with
such exquisite sensitivity to the beauty and the joys of life that he
transformed those who met him. That is what God intends for us. He
wants to awaken us to the intensely blessed state of our redemption in
Messiah. Daily we have an opportunity, as the result of Yeshua's
atoning agony on the cross and power over death, to live on a level of
creativity, wisdom, authority over evil and pure love. Of course we fall
short. Of course these ideals often seem beyond our condition. But we
can ask the Lord for more of His life, for a cleansing from the filth of
this world and for a fresh infilling from Heaven. These are all amplified
when we fast, worship and pray with each other. It is His preparation
for what is to come.