wsFJP_k" /> Spiritual Poems by Nicholl: Thoughts & Prayers to Encourage & Convict: What You Need to Know About Prayer and Fasting Shut -Ins

Wednesday

What You Need to Know About Prayer and Fasting Shut -Ins

Someone told you they will be participating in a prayer and fasting service that requires them to stay overnight in a church and asked you to join, so what can you expect if you are attending a "shut-in" like this?

A Prayer and Fasting Shut-In is a great way for believers to come together to pray for one another as well as community, national and international concerns. The doors are not actually locked and people are not shut in all day unable to leave the church. Instead, everyone is welcome to come and go when the prayer and fasting period begins. But this special event is called a "Shut-In" because believers will usually stay up all day and night in the church praying and meditating on scripture until they receive a spiritual breakthrough—more on this later.

Although unbelievers are welcome to this event, it may be better for them to attend a regular church service before committing to staying overnight in a church. Someone not use to praying, talking, dancing, singing, or laughing with God may be uncomfortable being in this kind of service. Also, no one is allowed to eat during this time in the sanctuary, those who must eat are asked to go outside of the church. The reason for this is so that one can focus on God not on eating. To fast means that you are willing to abstain from something you would normally take pleasure in such as food, television, Internet use, or entertaining family and friends. Prayer and Fasting Shut-Ins are not meant to last for months. A personal fast can last as long as 40 days in the Bible. The period of fasting and prayer has been known to produce great spiritual breakthroughs. Many believers report everything from miracles, signs, and wonders during this time.

Unlike regular church service, you will not be entertained, you will be expected to pray and worship God. Believers will hold up their arms, bow, fall to their knees, lie down on the church floor, sing and do other things that will be discussed later.

Before accepting an invitation to participate, know what kind of church denomination is partaking in this activity. You may find that you don't agree with the way the Shut-In is being handled or it may go against your spiritual beliefs, if so, it's best not to attend.

Basic information is revealed to all members of the church body such as the date, time, location, who is hosting the event, and how long it will last. If someone doesn't provide this information to you in advance and information is not readily available to you when you request it, don't go until you get specific details.

If you do receive a program about the Shut-In, a specific protocol should be mentioned. The information should state things such as whether talking in the sanctuary is allowed, how old should children be if they are welcome, and warnings about turning off or silencing your cell phone during the prayer period. Also, rules for when and where to eat should be mentioned and other details such as those with a medical condition must eat outside of the sanctuary so that they are not bothering others. Issues like these are all distractions that can hinder someone's spiritual experience. During this time, leadership may allow participants to bring desk work to the church, sleep, journal, and meditate.

Program information should also list what you will be praying about as a group and mention the times allotted for you to pray individually and with others about concerns. There is also free time given to you to leave if you have to or do other things like read, pray around the property, or socialize with other believers.

There may be other things that you will be fasting from during this time as well, find out if there are any other things the leadership will be asking of the congregation besides what is listed in the program. Be certain that what they say aligns with biblical principles. You should never feel pressured or coerced to do something that would not be deemed righteous.

Before you participate you may want to know if local transportation is nearby. You may ride to the church with someone and realize during the fasting period that the person chooses to stay longer while you would like to go home. Before you choose to ride with someone to the church, take the time to jot down the phone number of the local cab service or find out what bus you need to catch before you commit to going. Take your note and cell phone in case you need it.

There may be speakers present during the prayer and fasting period that you are unfamiliar with; you may want to find out who is on staff at the church and who will be leading some of the prayer services. Since no one who stands before you in or out of the church is perfect, pray that God gives you a discerning spirit to incorrect teaching, a tough skin to negative comments which unfortunately do come from leaders as well as laymen, and the courage to rebuke anyone who is out of order.

Since a Prayer and Fasting Shut-In may go on through the night, you will need to know what to bring with you to the event. Pillows, sleeping bags, blankets, water, and other items are usually acceptable.

Unlike a hotel room, there is no privacy; you will most likely be sleeping on chairs or on the floor. Lights are usually dimly lit but bright enough for you to see what's going on around you.

The church hosting the Prayer and Fasting Shut-In may be open to spiritual gifts then again they may not. This information is crucial to know before you participate because you may feel led to openly worship God, speak in tongues, or share a prophetic word, but those in leadership may not be flexible. If they aren't, you may want to reconsider attending a prayer and fasting event that restricts the move of God. Spiritual gifts are signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit refer to the Book of Acts.

Creating an atmosphere to usher the presence of the spirit is acceptable. According to Biblical scripture men fasted and waited on God, see Romans Chapter 5. They also were blessed by God with various spiritual gifts. Although some people have more or less gifts, all are used by God, read I Corinthians 12. If there is a special gift from God you are hoping to receive, a Prayer and Fasting Shut-In is the perfect place to request it. However, avoid the temptation to be critical of others, mock, curse, or debate. People who cause unnecessary disturbances will be asked to leave.

When the opportunity is given to participants to share testimonies, prophetic words, songs, and other spiritual things, you will want to ask the leadership how long do you have to speak. Keep in mind that others will be listening, learning, and having a need to say something, so keep what you share brief. If you need more time, ask for it.

Sometimes the power of the spirit is so strong it may knock you off your feet, if this should happen you will want to know if there will be anyone around to cushion your fall or you may want to look out for others. There should always be someone watching to be sure no one hurts themselves.

Strange things tend to happen during any event that is hosting the presence of God, so with that said you will want to know basic things like where are the exit doors (if it becomes overwhelming for you or if an emergency situation should occur) and if there will be security present if someone or something gets out of hand.

For more information on Prayer and Fasting Shut-ins or starting one yourself, mention this article to your church leadership and print others about hosting such an event at your church. God bless!

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