Psalm 104—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms weekly artwork and see previous pieces here.

Person: John Forney

I came out to Colorado 20 years ago and have been here ever since. My wife, Veronica, and I have a blended family and are blessed with five kids. I’m a self-taught black and white photographer shooting with old school 8×10 large format and medium format cameras.

Piece: Black and White Photography

From a young age, my experiences out exploring and camping in northern Minnesota lit a fire in me that has never gone away. Photography has always been a means for me to slow down, be present, and share my love of God’s wonderful creation with my family.

This image was shot over 10 years ago when I was camping with my four oldest kids along the rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The negative has always been one of my favorites but as time went on, I always printed more recent images. While reading Psalm 104, It seems impossible not to be caught up in euphoria along with the Psalmist as he praises the Lord’s “splendor and majesty.” I still recall being in awe as I looked out at this scene years ago. Experiencing the sheer heights and the depths on the edge of that rim coupled with the approaching rain backlit by the sun moving through the canyon. It was awesome.

The psalmist illustrates God’s providence: He stretched out the heavens, makes the clouds His chariot, set the earth on its immovable foundations, and rebuked the waters so that they will never again cover the earth. He is totally in control.

There is a place and purpose for all creation, and “the earth is satisfied by the fruit of His work (v.13).” He is the Provider. “In wisdom You made them all (v.24)” and all creation looks to Him for food (v.27), satisfaction (v.28) and life (v.29).

The psalmist gives us a recounting of the perfectly-created world, yet does not overlook the sin and wickedness that will be consumed and be no more (v.35). I look back on that camping trip over 10 years ago. Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned the brokenness that would ensue in my family’s life since then. This image helps remind me to reflect on His promise that our present sufferings can not compare the future glory that awaits us. He is our hope. Praise God.

Psalm 103—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms weekly artwork and see previous pieces here.

Person: Beth Dreyer

I am a Chicago-raised transplant that has been living in Denver for seven years. I graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska with a B.F.A. in Studio Art and have been teaching elementary art in the public school system for nine years. I have been married to my husband, Adam Dreyer, for 6 years, and am a mom of a busy (almost) three-year old, Ramona, and a 4-month old, Nolan. I am a lover of the outdoors and feel most myself when I meet with God in the midst of His beautiful creation (with the people I love most, of course!).

Piece: Acrylic & Ink

In Psalm 103, David praises God specifically for His goodness and faithfulness in response to creation. Throughout the psalm, many characteristics and actions of God stick out—“forgives,” “heals,” “redeems,” “satisfies,” “justice,” “merciful,” “slow to anger,” and “compassion.” God is worthy of all praise! Our God loves us tangibly and fully. We can rest in Him, knowing that in love, He forgives sin and heals us from sin’s devastating effects on our lives (v.3), brings good out of evil (v.4-5), and ultimately will bring justice as He fights for us (v.6-7). In verse 13, God is referenced as a father, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.” To me, the image of God as “Father”‘ is one of the most beautiful. As someone who did not have the best relationship with their earthly father, Psalm 103 is a reminder that our Father in Heaven knows us to our core (v.13-14) and that He wants us to know Him deeply in return.

This painting first focuses on the brokenness of the world—the reality of man’s sinful desire to grasp and hold onto the things we think are important. These things are but dust and hold no weight in the Kingdom of Heaven (v.15-16). The hands on the shoulders are a symbol of the Lord’s compassion toward us as our Father and the gentle discipline for His children when we sin and attempt to find satisfaction in things of this world. As believers, we can instead rest in our covenant relationship with the Lord through the work of Jesus. Praise God for knowing us! Praise God for not dealing with us according to our sins (v.10)! Praise God for His benefits! Praise God for forgiveness, restoration, and peace!

Psalm 102—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms weekly artwork and see previous pieces here.

Person: Margie Keith

I’ve been in Denver since the summer of 2018. I was born and raised in Southern Vermont, but I have a wanderer’s heart, and have lived all over the continental US and traveled extensively overseas. I have the honor and privilege of being the office manager here at Park Church.

Piece: Acrylic

The center of the piece was done with brushes not much thicker than a toothpick, and the outer blackness was done with my fingers. It took around 6 hours to complete the painting itself, not including prepping the wood and sealing the completed piece.

The caption of the Psalm, in the ESV translation, is “A prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaints before the Lord.”

As I was studying this Psalm, I was struck by the sense of darkness and sorrow surrounding the author. The words smoke, ashes, shadow, waste places, wilderness, and withered are used to describe his state. It conveys a deep sense of sorrow, heaviness of heart, emotional desolation.

I love the Psalms because they do not shy away from grief and trial, nor do they encourage us to search for the silver lining, and though there are 150 of them, you will not find the words “well, at least…” anywhere at all. The Psalms are where you can sit with sorrow as with a friend, a familiar (if unwanted) companion whom you know quite well.

It’s apt for me that this Psalm is being taught on Father’s Day. My dad died suddenly when I was 10, and Father’s Day has always been for me a day of lament, a day of missing him desperately, wondering what my life would have looked like with him in it.

Whether you’ve experienced major grief such as the loss of a loved one, or many micro-griefs, such as losing a job, losing friendships, having to walk away from a dream you’ve always had or a wrestling with a dream that’s unfulfilled, fighting illness or infertility, lingering wounds that have been inflicted on you by others… whatever your shadow is, this Psalm reminds us that we’re not alone there. God is not afraid of our pain, and is not uncomfortable with dark places.

In Matthew Henry’s commentary on Psalm 102, he says this:

When our state is afflicted, and our spirits are overwhelmed, it is our duty and interest to pray, and by prayer to pour out our complaints before the Lord, which intimates the leave God gives us to be free with him and the liberty of speech we have before him, as well as liberty of access to him; it intimates also what an ease it is to an afflicted spirit to unburden itself by a humble representation of its grievances and griefs.

The beauty of our faith is that God is still good, and still loving, and still willing and able to rescue and succor us, no matter what darkness we are surrounded by. He wants us to cry out to Him. Darkness is not an absence of God’s presence with us, but rather an invitation for us to draw closer to Him. “He regards the prayer of the destitute, and does not despise their prayer” (v. 17). He has not left you alone! He is at work even now, sharpening and refining and mending you.

“Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created {that’s us} may praise the Lord: that He looked down from His holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die” (v. 18–20).

This Psalm embraces pain. It does not minimize or negate our suffering. Our American culture tends to shy away from pain and discomfort, and will often take extreme measures to avoid it. We as Christ followers need to learn to lean into that pain, to learn from it, to greet it like a companion we aren’t frightened by because we know it so well.

We have no need to be afraid of sorrow because—and this is the important part—it begins in darkness but it does not remain there forever. We have hope, we have a source of light and goodness that cannot be dimmed. “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4–5, emphasis mine).

In this painting, you see an idyllic meadow with sheep grazing, flowers blooming, and mountains shining in the distance. It is a place of peace and safety, and even though it’s surrounded by swirling dark clouds, the darkness cannot cover it. We are His sheep, and though we will fade like wildflowers, He is mindful of us. His faithfulness endures like the mighty mountains, and His love reaches to the heavens.

We can mourn freely, knowing He is our help, and that He will never let the darkness take us. He is our safety and shelter, our peace in the midst of the storm.

24-Hour Prayer for Justice: Prayer Guide

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Choose a Shift

Pete Greig, founder of the 24-7 prayer movement writes, “99% of prayer is just showing up; making the effort to become consciously present to the God who is constantly present to us.”  We believe in a God who hears our prayers and acts on what he hears. It can be difficult to prioritize prayer, but this is one way we can put our money where our mouth is, even if we’re lacking faith or motivation. We’re the salt and light of this world. Let’s show up in prayer on behalf of our church, our city, and our world – praying for healing, racial reconciliation, and real systemic change.

We encourage you to pray with your housemates, family, GC, or a friend (when possible), but you’re also welcome to spend this time alone with God.

How can I pray for 30 or 60 minutes?

It may be intimidating to think of praying for a half hour or entire hour; many of us struggle to pray for five consecutive minutes. Below are a number of suggestions on how you might spend your time with God. Further down are two optional minute-by-minute guides, if that’s your style.

Here are a number of suggestions for types of prayer you might engage in:

  • Time in silence. Sit before God in a posture of reverence and love.
  • Pray through Psalm 101. You might take one line at a time, praying anything and everything it brings to mind. David is honest, and we can be too – even with our emotions, struggles, and shortcomings. Pray for holiness, healing, and righteousness in our world.
  • Lament. Spend time in sorrowful reflection over the brokenness in our hearts and world. It’s okay to sit in pain over the centuries of racial oppression, and also over recent events in particular, longing for God to move and heal our world.
  • Confession & repentance. Humble yourself before God, confessing ways you’ve wandered from His good & holy ways. Receive His forgiveness (and in doing so, forgive yourself!).
  • Reflect and rejoice. Thank God for His provision, goodness, justice, mercy and love. Reflect on your life and your salvation. Praise God with words or with a song!
  • Petition and intercession. Ask God for specific movement or provision. Ask for His Kingdom and Spirit to come in power to our city and world. Ask for specific needs to be met among family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Bring anything and everything before him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
  • Breath prayers. Spend a few minutes repeating the same prayer as you breathe in and out. A few examples: “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner,” “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done” or “Abba, I belong to you.”
  • Listening Prayer. Spend time in silence, asking God to speak to you. Pay attention to where your mind goes – it may need to be redirected toward the presence of God, or it may start wandering toward something God is stirring.
  • Prayer Walk. Get out of your home and go for a walk in the neighborhood. As you notice people, places, landmarks, homes, and nature, turn to God in prayer. Ask for righteousness in your neighborhood, salvation for neighbors, healing for the community, etc.!

We’d love to hear your stories, prayers, encouragement, or struggles during your time in prayer. Please share by emailing [email protected].

Hour of Prayer Minute-by-Minute Guide (optional):

Right Beforehand: Find a quiet space and remove distractions. Turn off your phone if possible.

0-5 minutes: Settle in a comfortable position but with good posture. Remember Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.” Spend a few minutes in complete silence and stillness, remembering and enjoying His presence with you.

5-15 minutes: Read Psalm 101:1 – “I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music.” If possible, sing a song about God’s love. You may use a song like “King of My Heart” or “Steadfast” by Sandra McCracken, played on an instrument, on YouTube, or singing a capella. If you don’t want to use music, spend these minutes thanking God for his steadfast and personal love toward you and toward those you know. Thank Him for His justice and His mercy.

15-40 minutes: Read through the rest of Psalm 101 slowly. Ask God to illuminate specific phrases or concepts. Re-read it again, slowly. Spend time praying for things that are stirred up because of the passage.

Here are some prayer points you might use: 

  • Confess ways that your heart has not always been full of integrity, that you’ve actively participated in injustice, slander, pride, lust, or greed. Ask your Father for forgiveness, knowing He offers it freely through Jesus.
  • Pray for the Church. Ask God for an increase in His Global Church. Pray that Park Church would do justice, and to love kindness, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). Pray that we’d be known for our love (John 13:35). Pray that we’d be a generation that seeks His face, etc.
  • Pray for the city of Denver. Pray that God would bring about healing and justice, especially for those who have been oppressed, overlooked, and marginalized. They are near to God’s heart. Ask God to heal wounds and bring about racial reconciliation, beginning in your own heart. Pray that the Church would shine brightly in this city.
  • Pray for our world. Pray for our world leaders to walk humbly and submit to Jesus’ reign. Pray that this season would bear Gospel fruit throughout the world. Ask the Lord to send out laborers to see many come to find joy in Jesus soon (Matthew 9:38).

40-50 minutes: Engage in “listening prayer.” Prayer should be more than a list of demands we lay at God’s feet – it can also be a two-way conversation. Ask God if there’s anything He’d like to speak to you or remind you of. Then sit in silence for at least 5 straight minutes. If your mind wanders, sometimes you’ll need to reign in your thoughts. Other times, you may want to invite God into your thoughts, asking if He wants to say something. Pray about whatever He brings to mind. If you don’t “hear” anything, that’s okay! Time in silence before God is always time well spent.

50-55 minutes: Reflect on what God may have stirred in you in the last hour. Is there something you’d like to do or change because of this time? Is there someone who may need a word of love or encouragement? Invite God into this thought process. Make a mental note (or a real note!) of what the next step may be (if there are any).

55-60 minutes: “Breath Prayer.” Choose a word, phrase, or sentence prayer from this hour and spend 2 minutes breathing slowly in and out, repeating that prayer. You may choose to use this: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.” Thank Jesus for His attentiveness to you, this hour, and always.

Afterward: If anything stood out from your hour, we’d love to hear your words of encouragement, prayer, or struggle. Send your thoughts to [email protected]

30 Minutes of Prayer Minute-by-Minute Guide (optional):

Right Beforehand: Find a quiet space and remove distractions. Turn off your phone if possible.

0-5 minutes: Settle in a comfortable position but with good posture. Remember Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.” Spend a few minutes in complete silence and stillness, remembering and enjoying His presence with you.

5-10 minutes: Read Psalm 101:1 – “I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music.” If possible, sing a song about God’s love. You may use a song like “King of My Heart” by Sarah McMillan or “Steadfast” by Sandra McCracken, played on an instrument, on YouTube, or singing a capella. If you don’t want to use music, spend these minutes thanking God for his steadfast and personal love toward you and toward those you know. Thank Him for His justice and His mercy.

10-25 minutes: Read through the rest of Psalm 101 slowly. Ask God to illuminate specific phrases or concepts. Spend time praying for things that are stirred up because of the passage.

Here are some prayer points you might use: 

  • Confess ways that your heart has not always been full of integrity, that you’ve actively participated in injustice, slander, pride, lust, or greed. Ask your Father for forgiveness, knowing He offers it freely through Jesus.
  • Pray for the Church. Ask God for an increase in His Global Church. Pray that Park Church would do justice, and to love kindness, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). Pray that we’d be known for our love (John 13:35). Pray that we’d be a generation that seeks His face, etc.
  • Pray for the city of Denver. Pray that God would bring about healing and justice, especially for those who have been oppressed, overlooked, and marginalized. They are near to God’s heart. Ask God to heal wounds and bring about racial reconciliation, beginning in your own heart. Pray that the Church would shine brightly in this city.
  • Pray for our world. Pray for our world leaders to walk humbly and submit to Jesus’ reign. Pray that this season would bear Gospel fruit throughout the world. Ask the Lord to send out laborers to see many come to find joy in Jesus soon (Matthew 9:38).

25-30 minutes: Reflect on what God may have stirred in you in the last hour. Is there something you’d like to do or change because of this time? Is there someone who may need a word of encouragement? Spend another minute in silence, inviting God to speak to you. Make a mental note (or a real note!) of what a next step may be (if there are any). Thank Jesus for His attentiveness to you, this hour, and always.

Afterward: If anything stood out from your hour, we’d love to hear words of encouragement, prayer, or struggle. Send your thoughts to [email protected]

Psalm 101—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms weekly artwork and see previous pieces here.

Person: Bruce Butler

I am a graphic designer and musician from the East Coast. In 2012, I moved to Denver from Buffalo, New York to be closer to family and began designing for WorldVenture, a missions organization. Now I am a barista at Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters, design brands and digital artwork as a freelancer, and play guitar for Our Violet Room, Ivory Circle, and a few other bands in Denver. I co-lead a Gospel Community in the Sunnyside neighborhood and, in my free time, I enjoy attending shows, cooking with friends, and spending time with my nieces and nephew. You can see more of my work on Instagram at @madebybruce or by visiting madebybruce.com.

Piece: Digital Design

This psalm centers on living a blameless, holy life while turning from evil and slander. The background depicts the evil of the world through images of tumultuous oceans and a blazing fire. The outlines of fire connect them all, but the three colors of the oceans represent pride, slander, and deceitfulness in the way they collide and violently interrupt one another. The centerpiece is a diamond, representing purity and holiness, untouched by color or the evil surrounding it. Some of the evil attempts to mimic righteousness (you can see some parallel angles with the diamond) but ultimately without the foundation of Christ, they diverge in a different, broken path.

Summer Practices 2020

Summers in Colorado are amazing, even whilst under safer-at-home guidelines. You can give yourself to so many things and activities. As a church, we’re inviting you to give yourself to God in two particular ways.

We’re calling these our summer practices. One is a daily practice, while the other is a weekly one:

Practice #1: Pray the Psalms daily

What is it?

This summer, we’ll be preaching through Psalms 100–109. Our invitation to you is to use the psalm from the previous Sunday to pray throughout the week that follows (Monday through Saturday). Ex: Gary preached on Psalm 100 on June 7, so we’ll be praying that psalm June 8–13. Chris will be preaching Psalm 101 on June 14, so we’ll be praying that psalm June 15–20.

Why the Psalms?

Though we were created to commune with God, we also really struggle to pray. We end up praying, as author Donald Whitney put it, “the same old things about the same old things.” The Psalms help us interrupt our prayer ruts and invite us to bring our real selves and real emotions to a real God. John Calvin called the Psalms an “anatomy of all the parts of the soul.” They teach us that no emotion is uninvited to our prayer lives, but rather each of these emotions are to be welcomed guests who have a place and a voice at the table of prayer. These include joy, pain, sorrow, anger, depression, cries against injustice, etc.

How to do it?

It’s about as simple as it gets. Go through the psalm (or a portion of the psalm) line-by-line, praying what you find in the text or what it brings to mind. If nothing comes to mind, or if you don’t understand the verse, go to the next. You might choose to linger longer on one verse. Conversely, there may be only a handful of matters that prompt prayer as you go through many verses. Nothing says you have to pray over every verse. Continue praying this way until you run out of time or run out of psalm. It’s that simple! This method of prayer is found in Donald Whitney’s book Praying The Bible. If you’d like a PDF of our “Praying The Bible” Cohort Guide in order to go through the book with others, click here.

Practice #2: Prayer walk weekly

What is it?

It is what it sounds like: praying while walking. We’re used to associating prayer with a closet or a church sanctuary, not city streets. Some have described prayerwalking as “on-site intercession.”

Why are we doing it?

It helps us pray in a new way in the neighborhood God has placed us, seeing new things we might never have seen and immediately bringing them before God in prayer. It helps slow us down from our frenetic pace! It breaks us out of our routines and gets us out of our normal four walls. It reminds us that our neighbors are real people and there are really issues to talk to God about for our neighborhood. God’s heart is to see His kingdom come and His will be done in Denver as it is in heaven, and prayer is one of the main ways of us participating in His work! As Dallas Willard said, “Prayer is talking with God about what we’re doing together.”

How do we do it?

While you can always prayerwalk alone, we also encourage you to go in groups of two or three. Consider pulling in someone from your household or someone from your Gospel Community. Before heading out, pray for the leading of the Spirit as well as spiritual protection and insight as you go! Briefly plan where you are going to walk and then do it. Remember that as you go, don’t be creepy & don’t make a scene. Here are a few directives as you go:

  • Pray Scripture. While not necessary, some choose to pick a particular Scripture to pray as they walk. You can even read the Scripture out loud and then expand on that passage in your own words.
  • Pray as the Spirit leads. He might give you discernment or insight into something that you can pray about.
  • Pray aware of your surroundings. This includes people as well as your 5 senses. Observe houses, buildings, posters, signs, graffiti, anything that might direct your prayers. Pray with your eyes open!
  • Pray for your neighbors. This is a great time to get to know your neighbors and actually pray for them. Some might want to ask neighbors what they can be praying for if they see them, or perhaps just say hi and stop to talk along the way if they’re open to conversation.

Psalm 100—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms weekly artwork and see previous pieces here.

Person: Jennie Pitts Tucker

Originally from Austin, Texas, Jennie graduated with a BFA from Baylor University in 2012. She started her own art business in 2014, “Jennie Lou Art,” and now works as a full-time artist in Denver. She specializes in live wedding/event painting and custom pieces. Learn more at jennielouart.com or on Instagram at @jennielouart.

Piece: Acrylic Painting

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing! (v.1–3)

As I painted this piece, I began to wonder if perhaps the world’s ways have lulled us to sleep. We have become ignorant to the beauty, magnificent signs of hope, and evidence of His character which our Father has so kindly placed all around us. In the wise words of C.S. Lewis, “You understand sleep when you are awake, not when you are sleeping.”

When I first moved to Colorado, I would stop in my tracks, overcome by the sheer majesty of the mountains every time I faced west. Years later, and I still love the mountains, but I seem to have lost the overwhelming sense of wonder. I have become desensitized to the majesty the mountains once imposed on me, and the glory they once awoke in me.

Is it possible we have all fallen asleep the most remarkable signs of hope our Father has placed in front of us? Have we lost the overwhelming praise and thanksgiving that results from the awe and wonder? Have we allowed the extraordinary to become ordinary?

“The original word [joyful noise] signifies a glad shout, such as loyal subjects give when their king appears among them. Our happy God should be worshipped by happy people; a cheerful spirit is in keeping with His nature, His acts, and the gratitude which we should cherish for His mercies.”
(Charles Spurgeon on Psalm 100)

For me, painting is how I sing.

God has gifted me with a voice through art, more than with my actual singing voice. There is so much freedom in the ability to express with a paintbrush. So for me, making “joyful noise” and “serving the Lord with gladness” through my artwork results in a loud burst of colors and powerful shapes; it is expressing God’s design to the world in a way that demands the viewer to admire His Creation and thank Our Father of Good Gifts.

For this piece, I chose to paint the mountains in such vibrancy that it might, again, shock the viewer into the awe of God’s creation all around us in Colorado. I really pushed myself to paint out of my comfort zone by choosing colors and marks I am normally nervous to use, for fear of overpowering the composition. My hope is this painting will mobilize us as Christians to sing and bless His name for the Beauty that surrounds us and beckons us to adore the Creator.

For the Lord is good. (v. 5)

What better reason do we need to praise the Lord? In the midst of a turbulent and fearful season in our world, may we focus on these words. May we praise Him because He promises us He is Good and “His steadfast love endures forever and his faithfulness to all generations” (v.5). There is hope and there is goodness promised to us, let us sing and give thanks to the One who was and is to come.

“​When we recount to him his goodness we are rendering to him the best adoration.”
(Charles Spurgeon)

Why Lent, and How do I Engage Practically?

WHY LENT?

Lent is the season of 40 days leading up to Good Friday and Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday, continues through Holy Week, and is historically marked by themes of repentance, self-examination, and preparation before Easter. Those unfamiliar with Lent might associate this season with “doing penance” as those trying to earn God’s favor, but this is the furthest thing from the truth! Lent actually invites us to journey deeper into the Gospel.

Lent has historically invited us into the drama of the life of Jesus, particularly focusing in on His 40 days in the wilderness immediately after His baptism. Jesus gave Himself to fasting and prayer and resisting the temptation of the devil. Unlike Israel in the wilderness for 40 years after the Exodus, Jesus faithfully obeyed and relied on His Father! We too ask God to meet us in this intentionally set-apart time, knowing our weakness and inability to do anything without His Spirit. May Lent lead us into increased intimacy with the Father, appreciation for the sacrifice of His Son, and dependence on the Spirit’s power in our lives!

HOW DO WE ENGAGE IN IT CORPORATELY?

1. Ash Wednesday

We will begin the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday services on February 26th at 6:30am and 6:30pm at the Park Church building. This service will last about an hour, and we will engage in prayer and song together as well as receive the imposition of the ashes. Ash Wednesday is a day to stare at death in the face and acknowledge our mortality, to be honest about our sin and need for a Savior, and to joyfully remember we are not those without hope because of the work of Jesus! Kids are invited and welcome to be a part of this service.

2. Corporate Prayer

Throughout the season of Lent, we invite everyone to consider joining us for corporate prayer in two contexts: Thursday Morning Prayer at 6:30am in the side gallery at Park as well as on Sundays for our Boiler Room Prayer at 8:15am in the basement. Children are welcome!

3. Maundy Thursday

During Holy Week (the final week leading up to Easter), some Gospel Communities gather for Maundy Thursday, celebrating the night that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, gave final instructions, and washed his disciples’ feet.

4. Good Friday

We will celebrate with Good Friday services at 5:30 and 7pm on the evening of Friday, April 10, at the Park Church building. We’ll allow the Scriptures to take us to the scene of our Lord’s betrayal, arrest, trial, crucifixion and burial, setting us up for a deep celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.

HOW DO WE ENGAGE IN IT PERSONALLY?

This year we’re inviting everyone at Park Church who is participating in Lent to engage in three kinds of spiritual practices: fasting, prayer, and generosity. We covered the basics in our “Engaging With Lent 2020” guide that we’ll be handing out on Sundays and Ash Wednesday, but here we’ll take a little bit of time around each practice but also share some practical ways of exploring each.

1. Fasting

Fasting is one of those disciplines that most Christians know they should do, but rarely get around to it. The interesting thing is that it’s one of the disciplines we see Jesus doing (Matthew 4:1–11; 17:21), a discipline He assumes His disciples are doing (Matthew 6:16) and a discipline we see the early church continuing to do (Acts 13:1–3; 14:23). So what is it? David Mathis defines fasting as “voluntarily going without food—or any other regularly enjoyed, good gift from God—for the sake of some spiritual purpose.”

Fasting ultimately is about refraining from one thing that we might engage more intentionally with another, namely God. Sam Storms comments, “The ironic thing about fasting is that it really isn’t about not eating food. It’s about feeding on the fullness of every divine blessing secured for us in Christ. Fasting tenderizes our hearts to experience the presence of God. It expands the capacity of our souls to hear his voice and be assured of his love and be filled with the fullness of his joy. Let me say it again: Fasting is not primarily about not eating food. It is primarily about feasting on God.”

Practically speaking, there are a couple great ways of exploring fasting during Lent:

One is called a whole fast, where you actually skip whole meals with the exception of water, juice, or liquids. This kind of fast can be hard for some people due to particular physical conditions so don’t just jump in without considering how it might affect you. A way of easing your way into this whole fast is simply by skipping breakfast and lunch on a day and eating dinner in the evening. Another way would be to do a 24 hour whole fast where you only drink water, juice, or liquid during that day. Many from Park will choose to do this together on Wednesday if you’d like to join us!

Another way is called a partial fast, which could also be more tied to the season of Lent and called a seasonal fast. This might look like you giving up eating sugar or drinking alcohol. Others choose to give up things like social media, Netflix, etc. The important thing isn’t necessarily what you’re giving up, but what you do in the absence of that item and where it leads your heart. Fasting generally is never a solo discipline, but rather should always be practiced in conjunction with prayer.

2. Prayer

We believe that prayer is an essential part of what it means to be both a human and a Christian. It’s about communion and communication with the God we were created to know and walk with. As we fast during this season of Lent, we also feast on God through prayer! We encourage everyone to find meaningful ways to pray corporately (see above for a couple corporate prayer times) and personally in this season.

As far as personal prayer, we’re encouraging everyone to pray The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13) daily during the season of Lent. Many may choose to pray it first thing in the morning, starting their days by re-orienting their hearts to their Father in heaven! Others may pray it ongoingly and continuously during the day. However you choose to pray this prayer, we encourage you to open your heart as you do! This prayer isn’t intended merely to be a check box in order to feel good about yourself, but rather a launching pad for intimacy and communion with God Himself.

3. Generosity

As we fast from food or particular hobbies that cost money, we want to be open to re-directing the money saved and invest that somewhere else. The God we serve is an insanely generous and kind God. How might you learn to imitate Him and His generosity? How might God be directing you to be generous with your time, energy, and money in this season of Lent? Is there an organization that Park works with that you can contribute toward (find a comprehensive list at love5280.org)? Is there a need that might come up in your neighborhood or friendships where you can assist in? This practice works in conjunction with fasting and prayer and aids in shaping us in becoming more Christlike. It’s a reminder that our spirituality affects all aspects of our lives, including our bank account and how we view money.

Final Encouragement

Wanted to close this time by encouraging you in five ways:

  1. Plan before Ash Wednesday.​ The longer you wait, the less likely you are to do anything.
  2. Ask God what His invitation is to you this Lent! Let Lent be part of your relationship with God.​ Talk to God about where He wants you to grow. Where have there been areas of struggle? Where is God shining a light and inviting you to walk more closely with Him in? David Powlison has some amazing questions called “X Ray Questions” that might be of help as we practice some of this self-examination. Here’s a short sampling of those:
    • Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, and escape? When you are fearful, discouraged, and upset, where do you run? Do you run to God for comfort and safety or to something else? (To food, to others, to work, to solitude?)
    • What do you love? Is there something you love more than God or your neighbor?
    • What do you want? What do you desire? What do you crave, long for, wish? Whose desires do you obey?
    • What do you think about most often? In the morning, to what does your mind drift instinctively?
    • When you are doing a menial task or driving alone in your car, what captures your mind? What is your mindset?
    • What do you talk about? What occupies your conversations with others? What subjects do you tend to discuss over and over with your friends? The Bible says it is out of the heart that our mouths speak.
  3. Your answers to questions these might help lead you as you process how to fast, pray, and be generous!

  4. Don’t take too much on.​ Keep it simple. If you take on too much, you’ll get overwhelmed. Take on 1–3 new practices. I’m going to fast from this on this day or the whole time; I’m going to gather for pre-service prayer at Park; I’m going to try to give some money to someone or something during that time. For parents, it might be doing one weekly devotional. If you’re not trying to add stuff in your world, consider just studying Exodus which we’re going through as a church more closely.
  5. Share your plan with a friend or spouse​, and then chat with them during the time about how it’s going.
  6. Don’t be discouraged by failures.​ Let any failures lead you back to the truth that God is more gracious than we are sinful! He’s kind. John Newton said, ​“Our sins are many, but His mercies are more: our sins are great, but His righteousness is greater: we are weak, but He is power.” What a truth to celebrate as we jump into Lent!

Resources

On the Christian Year
“Living The Christian Year: Time To Inhabit The Story of God” Bobby Gross
“Ancient Future Time” Robert Webber

On Lent
“Lent for Everyone: Matthew” NT Wright (we will have some copies available in our bookstore)
“Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross” A series of writings compiled by Nancy Guthrie
“Why Lent” Park Church Podcast
“The Christian Year: Lent” Musical, visual, and spiritual resources from Park Church and others for the season of Lent

On the Lord’s Prayer
“The Lord And His Prayer” NT Wright
“The Lord’s Prayer: A Guide To Praying To Our Father” Wesley Hill
“Dallas’ Personal Daily Practices” Dallas Willard on how he uses the Lord’s Prayer daily.
“A Simple Way To Pray Every Day” A short blog from Desiring God on how to use the Lord’s Prayer.

On Fasting
“A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer” John Piper (click here for a free PDF of his book)

Prayer Apps
Daily Prayer App
Lectio 365