October 2011 - Vol. 53

A Family Fast
by Bill Navarre

In December of 2010, the Holy Spirit began suggesting to me that I call for a family fast. After the second or third time, I paid attention. I outlined the suggestion and developed a format for the family fast.

I have been a single parent for 25 years and I have six grown children in their thirties and forties – three boys and three girls – and 12 grandchildren. The grandchildren range in age from five months to college freshman age. They live in the west of the U.S., in California, and in the east, near the New York Finger Lakes, and 15 of them live where I do in the Midwest, in Jackson, Michigan. Thanks to the Internet and phone I have been able to stay in personal communication with them.

There were a number of pressing issues within my family. It seemed that jobs were the number one concern. In 2010, five out of the six children had had job losses, a severe economic downturn in business, or were otherwise in a major financial crisis.

There also were health concerns in the immediate and extended family – prostate cancer, struggles with alcohol, mental illness – as well as pressing decisions to be made about college and career for some of the grandchildren. There were also interpersonal relationship issues.

One of my sons and his wife were looking for a church where they could feel at home with their little daughter, others desired to deepen their faith in Jesus.

I spoke to each son and daughter, son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and told them that I felt that we as a family should have a week of prayer and fasting to seek the Lord’s mercy and provision for each other. I proposed starting the fast January 16 and ending it on January 23. All agreed to join in and participate, which I experienced as a tremendous blessing from the Lord. 

The suggested format consisted of the following:

  • I made a schedule of the intentions for each day and emailed it to each household so we would all be fasting and praying for the same thing on the same day.
  • Each person would perform some form of fasting which would work for him or her during the week of fasting and prayer.
  • Each family – husband and wife and children – would each day pray together for the specific fast intention of that day.
We started the fast week at 2 pm on Sunday, January 16. Most of the family members in Jackson met that day at the home of one of my daughters, and we went over the schedule and committed ourselves to the family fast. During the week, I communicated with each household to get an update on how it was going and to encourage them.

On Sunday afternoon, January 23 the Jackson families all came to my home where I had prepared a full standing rib roast for a potluck dinner at which we celebrated the end of the fast together. The celebration together was a great time.

In faith I believe the week of fasting was a great success and the effects are still being manifested. At the end of the first week after the fast, one family reported an increase in clients in their business, with twelve new ones. Within three weeks or so, another family received two job opportunities on the same day, one of which has resulted in a new job with the medical benefits alone worth $22,000. The job started April 1, 2011.

There has also been a sharing of some family members’ faith in Jesus. The extended-family member struggling with alcohol has not been drunk since the fast and has almost completely stopped his fifty-year addiction to cigarettes.

In another family, a seven-year-old son underwent successful surgery and had a quick and dramatic recovery. At the end of the celebration dinner, I was blessed because some of the children and grand children said that they had also prayed for me, though I had not put myself on the prayer intention schedule.

I am confident that the Lord built upon the many years of my being encouraged by my Christian community, Morning Star, to fast and pray. Additionally, the Lord Jesus stated that his disciples would fast and pray.

Derek Prince wrote a great book called, Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting; and Mahesh Chavda wrote a wonderful book called, The Hidden Power of Prayer and Fasting. These books are very practical as well as inspirational and are a great resource for anyone who would desire to have a thorough biblical understanding for undertaking a family fast. The Lord Jesus, as always, is our example: he fasted forty days and nights and assumes his disciples will fast (see Matthew 6:16).

Lastly, there is a wonderful promise made by the Lord in the Second Book of Chronicles for those who feel led by the Lord to participate in a family fast: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Bill Navarre is a retired attorney and a member of Morning Star Christian Community in Jackson, Michigan, USA. 

Retired and Still on Mission 
interview by Sheila Pursglove

The following is excerpted from a feature news interview written by Sheila Pursglove for the Legal News.  Used with permission. [http://www.legalnews.com/jackson/1099401/]. 

Retired attorney Bill Navarre can look back over a legal career that spans almost five decades. But law wasn’t his original career choice. He first set his sights on being a missionary then dreamed of a career in politics, before becoming a lawyer in Brooklyn, south of Jackson [Michigan].

Navarre, who enjoys impressionist art, classical music, golf, and hunting waterfowl and deer, gives his time to the Jackson Interfaith Shelter where he serves as lay pastor. The non-profit shelter, with 32 beds for men and 44 for women and children, provides emergency shelter for the homeless and needy, prepared meals and assistance with physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

“The shelter is well respected in the Jackson community and is supported by many good people who recognize the wonderful impact it makes,” he says. “It makes good sense to give to the shelter as opposed to an individual because you can be assured where your money is going.”

Bill serving meals at Jackson Interfaith Shelter

Navarre, who has been involved with the shelter for 11 years, teaches a Bible study on Wednesday evenings and coordinates Sunday services with four or five local Christian churches, each taking one Sunday a month; he preaches every other month or when a scheduled minister cannot be there. Individuals are under no obligation to take part in services, he says.

“Most of us realize we live in a broken world where we find pain and suffering, if not next door then just down the street,” he says. “At the shelter there is refuge for those who are just out of prison or jail, whose home burned to the ground with all they owned, or who were thrown out by a spouse or a parent, or whose home was taken by the bank. Also, there are some whose addiction has impoverished them and who are often sick. Oftentimes there is great dejection and discouragement. I try to bring hope and encouragement by presenting the gospel of Jesus to each one.”

People find themselves in hard circumstances because of bad decisions, he says. “The sad fact is often we not only bring ourselves down, we pull others with us. A few years ago I heard of a statistic that the average age of the homeless in Michigan is 13 years old.”

He belongs to the Morning Star Christian Community formed in the 1970s in Jackson, and is comprised of Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Nazarenes, Anglicans, Pentecostals and others.  “We’ve lived our trans-denominational lives together now for some 36 years,” Navarre says. “We agreed we would respect one another’s traditional backgrounds, not trying to convert each other, daily read our scriptures, have a daily prayer time with the Lord, pay a tithe and support our individual churches. It’s been a source of great strength to have these committed relationships for so many years.”


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