This is your encouragement to begin 2013 by praying & fasting for 1) marriages for those who long to be married, 2) courage for men to walk upright and into relationship, and 3) courage for women to see where we need to change and to change.
As 2013 gets off the ground, I want to bring you up to date on the future direction of the fast.pray blog. As many of you know, we began in the summer of 2007, and it has slowly grown to over 850 subscribers, not including the 4-500 who were with us for a season. This past fall, Anne McCain Brown and I (Connally) decided to experiment with turning leadership over to Amy, Anna, Emily, and Kirsten. Anne and I each knew the time had come for us to shift our energies elsewhere. We figured the experiment would tell us if fast.pray had run its course or if God had something else to do through it without us (it’s a strange thing to think about launching one’s “baby” out into someone else’s care at, well, age 5½ !).
The upshot is, we still believe that God is in this—the writers and the audience might change, but fasting and praying is still needed: not just for marriages (though that’s the focus) but because our world is chaotic relationally, and it’s a great good to collectively beseech God to show up in the hearts and lives of so many women and men who are designed for more. So as we part, Anne, Kirsten, and I wanted to share our respective reflections. The younger leaders will take over (we like and trust them!), but our hearts remain with the heart of fast.pray…
Kirsten: As we all know, the end of the year brings with it the opportunity for reflection. Something I’ve been most thankful for in 2012 has been the monthly experience of writing for fast.pray. Understanding singleness in shared community and dialogue with all of you has been precious and valuable. We can only really know ourselves in the context of relationship – relationship with both the Holy Spirit and with other people – and I am grateful for the way in which this community has given me the chance to stretch and grow in my understanding of God, my faith, my singleness, and myself.
The last few months have brought a God-led change in my heart related to how I’m to continue speaking into the topic of unintentional singleness. Specifically, I have felt confirmed in my desire to continue working with clients in my therapy practice around this issue, and led away from writing or speaking in a more public forum. While I’m peaceful about this change, there is also sadness at knowing my relationship to the community will change. Thank you for allowing my voice into a space that is often tender and vulnerable. I will miss sharing my thoughts, but look forward to the privilege of reading continued musings by the talented and thoughtful women I’ve gotten to know over the last year.
Thank you again for such a precious opportunity. Blessings in 2013.
Anne: The lessons that stand out to me after being a part of fast.pray for 5 1/2 years are the power, importance and blessing of fasting; and the power, importance and blessing of controlling your thoughts and choosing to live in the present. Those are two fundamental shifts God has worked in me, and I’m grateful. Before fast.pray, I had never fasted regularly for such a long season of time. God met me and changed me during all those Mondays of food-less-ness. And fast.pray was what God used to break through my tendency to obsess and constantly be looking towards the future. I can’t say that I’ve kicked those habits for good, but I’m much more aware of the need to fight , and I do fight more consistently, rather that just collapsing into my thoughts. It’s all a journey, and I’m thankful for that invitation from Conn, which really was from God, to start fasting and praying on Mondays. My prayer is not only that every woman and man subscribed to the blog gets married, but also that God uses fast.pray to fundamentally change (for the good!) all of us who are or have been a part of it. Many Blessings!
Connally: Fast.Pray began because I was desperate to see God move in an arena where, no matter how hard I banged, the door didn’t open. 5 ½ years later, I can unequivocally declare that God is real, good, loving, and opens doors. I mean that from the tips of my toes, on which I want to stand and shout it.
As some of you know, shortly after fast.pray began, my two-year old nephew fell into a pool and drowned; a year later I was drowning in the anxiety into which I’d fallen after breaking an almost engagement; two and a half years later, my eldest nephew fell off a roof and died. And through this all, Anne McCain Brown and I have prayed and fasted, for ourselves, for you all, for our culture…again, and again, and again. And while grief and disappointment have swirled around and within me, amazingly … my heart hasn’t ended up shut down. Fasting and praying with my friend has helped keep me alive, more alive, than ever. True, no right marriage door has yet opened, but I am more able than ever to see and enjoy the men around me as beloved sons of God, in whom He is well pleased. That has to be from Him. Likewise, the grief of the loss still ricochets around in my family, and yet joy and love well up in my heart for my original family in deeper draughts than before. How is that possible? And, while I haven’t built a family of my own, I’ve had the incredible privilege of connecting at a heart level with so many people through this blog, my book, etc. Amazing. So, though it sounds clichéd, it is true: God has not yet given me what I’ve sought, but in the years of fasting and praying, he has given me what I’ve longed for most—a heart open to receive more of his unquenchable love in the deepest contours of my heart—and as such, He has flung open a far wider door for giving and receiving real love to and from others.
My hope for all of you is that you will keep in the journey of seeking God with and for your whole heart. It is so easy to want to quit. But our God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is real and good and loving–and he does open doors. We really are on a journey. There really is a bigger picture. And the story really is far from over.
Big Hugs…… (and oh, I’ve never made this shameless promotion before…but what the heck–if you haven’t bought my book, I hope you will 🙂 ).