New Directions (this is an abnormally long blog post, please don’t be daunted–next week it’s back to the 600 word max rule!)

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 🙂 ).

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12 Responses to New Directions (this is an abnormally long blog post, please don’t be daunted–next week it’s back to the 600 word max rule!)

  1. Sylvia says:

    Well said, Lyn. And yes, God truly does understand and accept us just as we are, including those days when we are plainly and simply discontent with our state in life. Just so long as we never lose our grip on the core truth that His grace IS sufficient.

    A fond farewell to Connally, Anne, and Kirsten. It’s as though I’ve come to know you in following this blog the past year. I am most grateful for all the time, prayer, and emotional energy you have each poured into this ministry. Your presence will be missed!

    Emily, Anna, and Amy: so glad you are willing to take the reins and keep fast.pray going. Thank you!! I realize it will take twice the effort with only half the writers, so rest assured that prayers are being lifted on your behalf. Godspeed!

    P.S. Connally’s so-called “shameless promotion” of her book (titled Revelations of a Single Woman: Loving the Life I Didn’t Expect) is modestly overdue. ‘Twas given to me by my dear cousin Monica, and I can vouch for its solid content, transparency, and relevance to this blog community in particular. Add it to your reading list for 2013.

  2. Lyn says:

    Thank you all for your encouragement on this very painful issue. It seems ( at least from my perspective) that you all have had a shift in priorities . . . a change of heart about this issue.

    I try to remember that marriage is just an earthly state that doesn’t follow us into eternity, it’s more like a pretty pebble on the beach. Some of us just don’t get to play with pebbles . . . 🙂 Ultimately we can’t take the marriage with us to heaven. I have been convicted recently that perhaps I ought to be more concerned with important issues. I think part of the difficulty of perpetual singleness, is it’s tied up with how we all feel about getting older. Single wouldn’t feel as bad at 20 as it does in later decades. I speak from experience. There is shame in getting older and remaining in the ‘reject pile’.

    The fact so many of us are without mates is due to a widespread systemic failure of our culture.. It’s not all our fault! Many young men seem to view marriage like a future date with the executioner’s block. Our culture has encouraged that mindset. In addition to that, the current economy means that many fully adult men simply cannot earn a decent wage. Many very wonderful Christian men are sitting out the process because (in one man’s words) they have ‘nothing to offer’ and cringe at the thought of being supported by a woman. They’re just wired that way. So they stay home in front of the TV or computer. And we lose out. It’s that simple. As Connally has pointed out, this is a God sized problem, and currently I struggle with a combination of rage and despair on bad days. I know God understands.

    God bless you all.

  3. halennox says:

    Thank you Connally, Anne and Kirsten. I’m never very good with goodbyes, so perhaps you could all “guest blog” every once in a while???? No pressure, just thinking out loud!! Seriously though, thank you for spending time on this, for being vulnerable, and for leading the group in this important work. You have consistently pointed to Him in the midst of struggles, for which I am grateful. Looking forward to more great posts from Amy, Anna and Emily.

  4. Miss R. says:

    Thank you for all the words of inspiration you have shared these past few years.

  5. Danielle says:

    I stumbled upon this blog about a month or so ago and have really been blessed by just the few posts that I’ve read. So I decided for this new year to join you in fasting and praying! This is close to my heart as quite a few of my friends and I are in our 30s and 40s and still single, never married. While I’ve already been praying for years regarding extended singleness, there’s something about praying in one accord with a community of believers on the same day and around the same time that’s so wonderful and powerful! There’s so much pressure to conform to the world’s ways of doing things and getting what you want no matter what the cost, but it’s my heart’s desire to learn how to lean upon God, trust Him, and grow in Him. Connally, Anne, and Kirsten, I wish you all of God’s blessings and wisdom as you move forward into new things in your lives. Amy, Anna, and Emily, I look forward to reading your posts as the year progresses!

  6. Lillian says:

    Thank you Connally, Anne and Kirsten for being such willing vessels for God! This website has truly blessed, convicted and encouraged me during this period of singleness. I pray that you are all blessed and anointed as you move into this next phase of life.

  7. pastorchichi says:

    I just joined the group but wat I have seen so far its amazing. I already feel the love n God’s presence in this group. To Anne McCain Brown and Connally may God bless u as you step into more of God’s work, you did a good Job starting this group be blessed always. To Amy, Anna, Emily, and Kirsten looking forward to be with you n hear from you I know its going to be a great year

  8. Daniela says:

    Thank you Kirsten, Anne and Connally, for having contributed on this forum in this journey we share – this rocky and yet exciting path of unintentional singleness. I just wanted to reiterate that I’m truly thankful to have found this community. I don’t have so many friends who are facing the same challenges as I do, but it’s so important to reach out to others who are on the same journey. It has really helped me to process things that have been going on in my life in this matter.

    So as I begin this new year 2013, there is another crushed hope I have to add to my loooong list of buried affections. Of course it sucks, yet I know God never makes a mistake. Probably I wouldn’t have been happy with this man; and if the Lord hasn’t instilled any desires or feelings in his heart, then it can’t be His will. However, I’m “back to square one” now. But maybe that’s not so bad. It will give me the opportunity to now primarily focus on my relationship with the Lord and to being HIS bride only. But I can’t help these feelings of sadness; and as I was beginning my time in God’s Word this morning, I couldn’t really focus on what I was reading. I was drawn to turn to Psalm 145, which has given me comfort and peace recently:

    “The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing…The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
    He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.” (Psalm 145:14-16;18-19)

    And if you allow me to also quote from one of my favorite little books “Steps to Christ”, from the chapter about prayer:
    “The assurance is broad and unlimited, and He is faithful who has promised. When we do not receive the very things we asked for, at the time we ask, we are still to believe that the Lord hears and that He will answer our prayers. We are so erring and short-sighted that we sometimes ask for things that would not be a blessing to us, and our heavenly Father in love answers our prayers by giving us that which will be for our highest good–that which we ourselves would desire if with vision divinely enlightened we could see all things as they really are. When our prayers seem not to be answered, we are to cling to the promise; for the time of answering will surely come, and we shall receive the blessing we need most. But to claim that prayer will always be answered in the very way and for the particular thing that we desire, is presumption. God is too wise to err, and too good to withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly. Then do not fear to trust Him, even though you do not see the immediate answer to your prayers. Rely upon His sure promise, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” (Steps to Christ, p. 96)

    I had somehow hoped that my time of fasting and praying for this particular matter would be soon over, but as I had mentioned, I’m now back to square one! Yet I see it as a great opportunity to continue this journey together with all of you who share the same desire that the Lord has implanted in our hearts. May He bless and guide us in it, and may we receive all the blessings He has for us, and which are for our highest good!

  9. Susan says:

    Kirsten, Anne and Connally –
    THANK YOU for hearing God’s call and following thru!!
    I am so very very thankful for HIM first and then all three of you!!

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