Prayer and fasting are fuelled by the confident belief that God is at work in the invisible realm of the spirit. Over our 21 days of prayer and fasting, we are exploring the importance and practicalities of believing in faith for things we do not yet see.  The biblical word picture of planting and growing seeds can serve as a visual reminder of such praying in faith.  Seeds that are planted in the ground are full of potential and possibility.  Invisibly, as they are watered day by day, they germinate and break through the soil to grow and bear fruit.

Prayer is the same.  God can plant seed words and promises in our hearts as we read the bible devotionally and listen to his voice prayerfully.   As we pray into these God breathed promises, we may not immediately see anything happening; but as we persevere in prayer we can trust that God is it at work.  God is faithful, and he will keep his promises. As we pray with faith, his seed grows in the soil of our hearts and in the hearts of those for whom we are praying.  His invisible creative power is at work to break off limitations and develop fruit that multiplies.

Over the month of March, our preaching series is focusing on different aspects of the biblical metaphor of SEEDS and the agricultural rhythms of planting the seed, looking after the soil, seeing the seed break through the soil, and harvesting the fruit.   So we are calling these messages PLANT, SOIL, CRACK, and FRUIT.  Here is a quick overview of the topics we are covering week by week with some key bible passages and questions for discussion.  Any one of these (or all of them!) could be a great topic for a Life Group Discussion during the coming weeks.
 
Week One: PLANT: A seed has potential, and as it is planted it in the soil, it creates hope and expectation. Prayer and fasting is much like planting seeds.  Through prayer and reading the word of God we discover God-breathed possibilities that we can grasp hold of in our hearts. As we talk about these possibilities with God, our faith grows and we pray with greater expectation and confidence.  Through persevering prayer and fasting, our mind, will and emotions increasingly line up with the heart of God and we pray with eyes of faith for promises we cannot yet see.  Some key questions you could discuss in your Life Group this week: What seeds of faith is God planting in your hearts during our 21 days of prayer and fasting? What are you expecting to see at the end? What does it mean to believe and have faith for the things unseen? Bible Verses that you could discuss are: Luke 8:1-15; Acts 2:42-43; Rm 10:17; Hebrews 11:1-3; and Matthew 21:22
 
Week Two: SOIL: For a seed to germinate and grow, it needs the right environment. The soil around the seed needs to be watered regularly.  The ground needs to be tended to take away weeds and provide the right balance of warmth and nutrients.  That daily rhythm of care is also needed in our prayer life.  For the seeds God has planted in our hearts to grow, we need to make sure we are putting ourselves in the right environments to stir and grow our faith.  We need to develop regular practices of prayer that encourage perseverance even when we do not quite see a result. Some key questions to be asking and pray about this week are: What are some practices we can begin in our day to day lives to help us build our faith and pray with confidence? What are some changes we can make in our daily schedules that can help us develop a rhythm of prayer, faith and works? How can we build our levels of expectation and we renew our faith when it is lost or dormant? Bible Verses that you could discuss are: Matthew 6:6; 1 Corinthians 3:6-9; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; and Philippians 4:6-7.
 
Week Three: CRACK and PRUNED: For a seed to grow and bear new life, it needs to crack open its outer shell. Later as it grows into a plant, bush or tree, diseased and broken branches might need to be pruned to ensure its on-going health. Our Christian journey is like this – prayer helps water the seeds of God’s promises until they break through from the invisible realm to the visible. God at times wants to prune us to surrender things, to let things go in order to usher us into new seasons and new beginnings. In prayer, we may need to break off those things that hinder us from growing further. Some key questions to ask and pray for: What stops you from living in faith? What holds you back from progressing to be all that God calls you to be? What do you need to let go of? and how can you let go of these things through prayer, in order for the new life to be birthed? Bible Verses that could be discussed are: Proverbs 3:5-6; James 5:7-11; John 15:1-8; and Hebrews 12:6. 
 
Week Four: FRUIT: A healthy tree produces fruit that can be shared with others. The promises of God are not just for us to enjoy, but also for us to share with others. The purpose of prayer is not just to grow in our personal faith and our relationship with God; we also need to pray for others.  We can pray that God would develop them to be people of faith and fruit bearers as well.  This sharing of fruit is not to be just within our own church but beyond our church too. As we pray for our families, our small groups, our church, our local community and the nations, we believe for fruit that multiplies. Some key questions to ask and pray for this week are: How can we share our faith with others? How can we share what God has done with others? Who are we developing in our lives? Bible Verses that could be discussed are: Zechariah 8:12; Galatians 6:7; Matthew 13:3-8; John 14:12. 
 
Final Thoughts: When God plants seeds of faith in our hearts through prayer his invisible creative power works in our lives to break off limitations and multiply fruit.  In Luke 8:1-15, Jesus tells the Parable of the Seeds.  He describes how the seed of God’s word is planted in the soil of our hearts.  Those who grasp that seed wholeheartedly with their mind, will and emotions, experience a multiplication of fruit with patience.   Prevailing, persevering prayer from the heart is a key to grasping hold of God’s promises and seeing fruit in our lives.  In his book From an Acorn to an Oak-Tree, the founding pastor of CityLife Church said “One of the basic requirements for growth is the practice of prevailing prayer.”  Over this season, let’s continue to encourage each other in prayer; let’s share testimonies of answered prayer; and let’s learn from each other different rhythms and practices of prayer that can help us plant seeds of faith that breakthrough limitations and bear fruit.

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