Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Power of Prayer and Fasting – Ronnie W. Floyd

© 2010 Nashville, B & H Publishing Group

Ronnie Floyd is the pastor of a large and growing church in northwest Arkansas. The church actually exists in two campuses (First Baptist Church of Springdale and The Church at Pinnacle Hills). His most recent (as of last month) accolade is to be the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

When I received this book from the North American Mission Board, I thought, “This will be good. I’ve been wanting to study a little more into fasting.” Within the pages of this “Revised & Expanded” edition, I found many challenging and worthy reminders of the call of Scripture for God’s people to be not only a people of prayer, but also a people who fast. Floyd includes a number of heart-touching testimonies of how prayer and fasting have become essential in his own life and ministry as well as that of his church and other people he has had influence with.

One of the most mind-numbing challenges I encountered as I read this book was the call to bring the local church into a corporate time of fasting. Floyd defines fasting as the “abstinence from food with a spiritual goal in mind.” (see page 4) And his encouragement to the body of Christ to fast is based on that definition. I can agree with him, that this is the basic definition of fasting. I think that the process can be expanded to abstain from other things (like media), and that the purpose of the fast is spiritual in nature. While there is such a thing as a fast for the purpose of weight loss, this book is dealing with the spiritual kind of fasting.

The problem with my expanding his definition lies in this: when we abstain from food, it is doing away (for a time) with something that the body cannot live without. Refraining from watching television or using smart phones, while these things seem important to a modern society, is not necessary to the survival.

Floyd bases his thesis (and includes it in the title of the book) on fasting and prayer as a means to tap into the power of God. I don’t think that this is his ultimate intention (he even says as much in the book), but the reader often comes away with this impression: that if I will pray and fast, I will experience magnificent power from God. I would suggest that if the reason for one’s fasting is to tap into godly power, then the intention is a false front. My best understanding of fasting and prayer is that the purpose of these activities is not for me to get something from God, but for me to focus my entire being on Him. Prayer and fasting are for my sake in the respect that they bring me into God’s presence for the purpose of complete worship. To approach them with the thought that “if I do this, I get to see something spectacular” (which is a selfish realm from which to start) I miss the point of prayer and fasting altogether.

I think that this is a good book for Christians to read, but I would advise caution not to get caught up in the selfish side of Christian disciplines. Instead I would encourage (as Pastor Floyd has encouraged me in the writing) to practice both prayer and fasting, but to do so with the goal of spending precious time with our Father in Heaven. (I can also agree that doing so will open our eyes to a greater spiritual explosion than ever before—but that’s the residue, not the intention). (3 out of 5 reading glasses)
—Benjamin Potter, July 1, 2014

Read but not Reviewed (Recommended Anyway)

While I like to respond to as much of what I read with a thoughtful opinion in the form of a quick review, I don't always fulfill this desire. I am a fairly slow reader because I have to digest every word. Then, I want to be truthful and thoughtful when I do write my opinions down. When life gets hectic, I find that just fulfilling the normal duties of a small-church pastor can keep me from setting my thoughts to keyboard. So, I thought I'd just give a quick recommendation concerning a few books I read in the first part of the year (and then maybe I won't feel so bad about getting to the next--freshly read--review).

Compound Murder (A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery) by Bill Crider (Minataur, 2013). As with anything by Bill, and especially starring the Blacklin County Cast headed by Dan Rhodes, I heartily recommend this book. I read it around Christmas and the next installment is supposed to hit stores next month, so I thought I'd better at least mention this one (4 reading glasses).

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis (Harper Collins, 2000 edition). I finally got a chance to give this classic defense of the Christian Faith a good solid read and found it to be timely and quotable. This is a book anyone should read. It has my highest recommendation (five reading glasses).

Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels (IVP Books, 2008, 20th Anniversary Edition). This one is a modern classic on prayer, It is another challenging read with much advise. I recommend it for the Christian who wants to dive deeper into their own prayer life. (4 reading glasses)

Check Out This Auction Opportunity

We now have our son home with us. And we are still raising funds. Ahead are post-placement visits from our home study agency as well as the cost of adoption finalization. While we are not familiar or sure about the total cost, we know that we need nearly $1000 more rather quickly for the post-placement visits.

So, here is a proposal: I have listed two items on eBay to help raise some of the needed funds, and if you are interested you can view and bid on these items. Both of the items have a special significance which I will describe here with a link to each auction.

A couple of years ago, I gave my dear friend, Dave, a copy of What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. I was able to get the author to sign the book (the inscription reads: 
“To Dave—
May God make His Gospel precious to you!
Since then, my friend passed away, and the book found its way back into my hands. Knowing how supportive of our adoption efforts Dave had been, his wife has graciously given her permission for us to use this item as part of our fund-raising efforts. In this way we can make Dave a bigger part of our process. (Read my thoughts on the book here.) The book lists with a 99 cent starting bid, and we would love to see the bidding go through the roof, so bid early, bid high, and bid often.

Also from Dave’s collection is a set of “Operation Desert Shield” trading cards (vintage 1991 from Pacific Trading Cards). While these are not boxed, the set includes all the cards numbered 1-110, and are in excellent condition. Again the starting bid is 99 cents, but we would love to honor our dear friend’s memory by saying that his items helped finalize our adoption process.

Thanks for reading; thanks for clicking the links; and thanks for bidding.

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