3 Days of Prayer and Fasting (2018/02)

1 Corinthians 7:1-40 (ESV)

1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.
29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
36 [But] If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.
39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

Day 1: Loving God

Read: 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
Paul teaches that whether we are circumcised or uncircumcised, free or enslaved, single or married, we remain as we are and live as if we are not, because “the present form of this world is passing away” (v. 31), and because, as redeemed people, we can fulfill our Christian calling to  have “fellowship” (1:9) with God no matter what situation we are in. Do you find your ultimate significance in someone or something other than Christ? Is there a vocation or relationship other than your calling to Christ that you look to for your ultimate sense of identity and purpose?
  • Repent of the ways in which you have look to things and people other than Christ for your ultimate sense of identity and purpose. Pray that you would love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
  • Make note of specific ways in which you prioritize your relationship with Christ in your daily, weekly, and monthly rhythms, and pray for the Spirit’s help to follow through with them.

Day 2: Loving One Another

Read: 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
Paul writes in verse 7 that “each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another,” implying that some are gifted to remain single, while others are given the gift of marriage. Do you think of both singleness and marriage as viable ways in which a Christian honor God? Have you placed unbiblical expectations regarding singleness and marriage on your Christian brothers and sisters? If you are single, how can you, given your particular gifting and situation, serve those who are married in the church? If you are married, how can you, given your particular gifting and situation, serve those who are single in the church?
  • Pray that the singles in our church would be self-controlled and wholly devoted to God.
  • Pray that the married couples in our church would be characterized by selfless mutuality and enduring commitment in their marriages.
  • Pray for unity, love, mutual respect, and service between singles and couples in our church.

Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors

Read: 1 Corinthians 7:25-40
Paul commends singleness as a lifestyle that enables us to be entirely and exclusively devoted to God. He also teaches that “those who have wives [should] live as though they had none” (v. 29), meaning that we should look to God, and not to our spouse, for our ultimate fulfillment. This is because marriage between a man and a woman is merely a shadow that points to our ultimate union with Christ. Are you living with a focus on propagating spiritual children of God through the proclamation of the gospel rather than merely focusing on propagating biological children through sexual intercourse? If you are single, are you more focused on getting married or on bearing spiritual children? If you are married, are you more focused on raising your children rather than on evangelizing them?
  • Pray that God would help us grasp the eternal significance of belonging to the family of Christ, so that we are zealous to evangelize those who have not been grafted in.
  • Pray for the salvation of specific friends and neighbors who do not yet know Christ.
  • Pray that God would make us bold and winsome witnesses among our friends and neighbors.
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