The Solemn Assembly Fast
LIVING ON THE HIGH PLACE
The Embassy Church just completed a week that we refer to as “The Solemn Assembly.” During this week we commit to commune with God through the reading of God’s word, repentance, fasting, and prayer. Our objective was quite simple. If the church is going to make an impact on our city we must first relish in the opportunity to “delight…in the LORD…” (Psalm 37:4). A hunger that seeks Jesus first and foremost is essential to the missional culture that will make God famous in our city. We called it “living on the High Place.” Relishing in the presence of God puts everything else into perspective (Psalm 84:10).
A fast is probably the single most obvious example of how difficult it can be to live on the “High Place.” This makes it is an excellent means toward nurturing a culture of holy brokenness and a joy in God. During our Solemn Assembly we did not, on behalf of the body, choose the object or experience from which the church would fast. Instead, we asked everyone to honestly consider what “liberties” (Romans 14; 1st Cor. 8-9) had become so routine in their lives that they may have become idols. We used the word idol to describe any objects or experiences that we turn to, in lieu of God, in our quest for joy. The object or experience is not inherently evil; in fact, it may very well be good. But it has been inappropriately elevated in our lives and, consequentially, it demotes God. Fasting brings this fraudulent elevation to our attention. When you have a moment in which you notice how much of your time, attention, and energy are being diverted from God toward your liberties, you become aware of the fact that good things have become idols. You become aware of this by depriving yourself of it for a time and intentionally replacing it with God. We recognize that prioritizing God can be a struggle. Valuing Him as your “exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4) can be complex when the world is pulling you in 10 different directions. But once you experience the type of intimacy that fasting provides you begin to relish in the opportunity to be near him. The struggle becomes a pleasure.
THE BEAUTY VALIDATES THE STRUGGLE
When I moved to Denver the first thing I noticed was how difficult it is to live here. I had spent my entire life in Dallas, which, on average, is about 550 feet above sea level. At 5,280 feet Denver’s elevation is nearly 10 times that of Dallas. Consequentially, the air is thinner which, for me, resulted in shortness of breath during exertive moments, headaches due to dehydration, restlessness, and fatigue. The first few weeks of living here had me fixated on finishing my education as soon as possible so I could move back down to a sane altitude. But then I had a conversation with a fellow student who grew up in San Diego, CA. One of the first things he asked was, “How are you handling the altitude? Having grown up at sea level I know all too well how hard it can be living in the “Mile High City.” I informed him of my plight and he gave me three points of advice. He said, “First, work on your cardio to enhance you body’s ability to process the thinner air. Second, increase your water intake to combat dehydration. Third, now that you are here, you must stay here. The longer you are here the more your body acclimates to living a mile high. Your red blood cells and lung capacity increase which is your body’s way of adapting to the altitude. Once your body goes through this process, the difficulties you are currently experiencing will be little more than a memory.” I do not believe he intended to give such clarity regarding what it takes to enjoy God’s presence. But the arrow hit its mark. If you want to live a mile high you have to commit to allowing you body to acclimate.
During the third or fourth day of a fast the consistent dialogue centers around looking forward to the end so we can return the things from which we are fasting. Essentially, this is because your soul is adjusting to the change in elevation. When one decides to seek God’s face through a fast they will inevitably deal with aches and pains in the first few days. For those that are in this moment I have three points of advice. First, let his face be clarified by the word of God. You are seeking to have fellowship with an actual being. If this is going to happen you must know His name and nature. The Bible is his specific revelation of himself. Know of him by familiarizing yourself with the book. Then know him by rehearsing the words of the book back to him. Second, seek God during the times that you would consume the things or experiences from which you are fasting. We can easily miss how much time we are giving to things other than God. But when you commit to filling these times with God you will realize how many distraction have demoted Him. If you are going to fast a meal each day, then fellowship with God during the time in which you would normally consume that meal. This will remind you that your hunger is for him. Third, when you go to the high place, stay there. Ironically, it is God, the one whom you seek, that gives you the power to endure the process of seeking him. During the first day of The Embassy Church’s Solemn Assembly our prayer focus was, “Greater Intimacy with God.” On day one of the Church’s corporate fast we went to God and said, “We desire more of you, please feed this desire.” A person who has acclimated to living on the high place will desire nothing else. But in the early days of the fast it can be difficult you must surrender and stay in his presence. Only God can grow your hunger for God. So your first appeal is that God would give you a desire “…to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord…” (Psalm 27:4) By his grace you will want more of him.
TELL SOMEONE ABOUT IT
Conclude the fast by sharing what God has done in and through you as you went through the process. The presence of God is the greatest conceivable joy and such joy cannot be contained. In fact, inevitably you will desire the opportunity to invite others to have the same experience (Psalm 66:16). At the end of our Solemn Assembly we met this desire by handing the microphone over to the church and they gave testimony regarding what God had done during the fast. The impact of these testimonies was incredible. They showed that a week of sacrifice was a small price to pay for fellowship with God. Some of them express joys, others express hurts. But they all reveal a desire to know Him more. We recorded these testimonies and we have decided to publish the recording of them for you here: “Solemn Assembly Testimonies“. We pray that they spark a hunger for God.
The Embassy Church
…making God famous throughout the world.
 We did ask that they abstain from all forms of media during the times that they have chosen to pray. This was to aid in the removal of distractions during praying times.
 We noticed that many people chose to forgo social media and television for the week. These things are not inherently bad, but they can be inappropriately valued.