3 Days of Prayer and Fasting (2021/12)

Matthew 1:1-17 (ESV)
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Day 1: Loving God
The mention of Jesus who has been born “king of the Jews” (v. 2) is sandwiched between the two mentions of “Herod the king” (vv. 1, 3). This heightens the tension and contrast between Herod and Jesus. Herod is the pretender, descended from Esau; Jesus is the real Messiah, descended from King David. Herod lies about wanting to pay homage to Jesus and plots to kill Him instead (Matt. 2:16), because there can only be one true king. And there is only one King who is worthy of “worship” (vv. 2, 8, 11).
Notably, Matthew uses the title “King of the Jews” in only two places in his Gospel. Here in Matthew 2:2 where the wise men call Jesus “king of the Jews,” and in Matthew 27, when Jesus is being crucified. The king of the Jews has come to reign, yet He reigns from the cross. Jesus was born to die, so that He might “save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21).
  • Confess the ways in which you have vied for kingship with Jesus.
  • Pray that God would reveal to you the idols that worship in lieu of Christ, and enable you to forsake them and worship Christ alone.
  • Ask God to humble you so that you might say “let your will be done,” rather than “let my will be done.”
  • Tell God about the guilt and shame you are carrying and lay them down at the foot fo the cross, remembering Jesus’s sacrifice and receiving His forgiveness.
  • Give thanks specifically to God for all that He has done for you in Christ.

Day 2: Loving One Another
Matthew cites Micah 5:2 in verse 6 and says that Jesus is the prophesied “ruler who will shepherd [God’s] people.” Every Christian belongs to the people of God, and the Lord Jesus Himself is our Good Shepherd who “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:6-7).
  • Pray that we’d see the local church through God’s eyes, and grow in our love for it. Pray that we’d be a church that cherishes the worship of our Lord and King.
  • Pray that this Christmas season, our church members would behold Christ and “[rejoice] exceedingly with great joy” (v. 10).
  • Pray that as we behold Christ, that we would be sanctified, being “transformed into the same image [of Christ] from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18).
  • Pray that our members would have deep, intimate relationships with their Shepherd, and know His love for them.
  • Pray that the under-shepherds of our church (aka. elders) would follow the pattern of the Good Shepherd in their life, character, and ministry.

Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors
The term “magi,” translated here as “wise man,” was originally a title for the Persian priestly class that served as advisers to the king. They specialized in astrology and the interpretation of dreams (cf. Dan. 1:20; 2:2, 10, 27). At the time of Jesus, magi were found all over the Roman Empire, but were specially associated with Babylonia. They are described as from “the east” (v. 1), and the “frankincense” (v. 11) they bring as a gift is particularly associated with Southern Arabia. These details confirm that the wise men were Gentile foreigners. It is remarkable that the “king of the Jews” is recognized and worshipped by these foreign dignitaries, and this foreshadows what Jesus will later say in Matthew 8:11, “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus is the king of the Jews, but He is not the king of the Jews only. He is the Savior of both Jews and Gentiles. Even people of whom we might say, “Christianity is not for them,” “they will never come to worship Jesus,” may seek and find Jesus like these wise men.
  • Pray for the Christmas Eve service, that many unbelievers would come and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Pray that the sharing the gospel with unbelievers would be a weekly occurrence among our members, and baptisms a frequent, even monthly, occurrence.
  • Pray by name for the unbelieving family members, friends, and neighbors you will be seeing over Christmas. Pray that you might be filled with the Holy Spirit to bear bold witness to Jesus.
  • Pray for spiritual and physical protection for Mattea, and that she would serve with the assurance of the Father’s love.

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