While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So, after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Paul’s first missionary journey was birthed by the Holy Spirit when believers in Antioch were fasting and praying. As we fast and pray, the Holy Spirit will guide us as He did the early church. As we practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, and worship, our lives increasingly will reflect the presence of the Holy Spirit and lead us into God’s will.
Some people asked Jesus why His disciples were not fasting like the Pharisees and the disciples of John. He replied: How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? (Matthew 9:14-15) Jesus told them that the time would come when He, the bridegroom, would be taken away, and on that day they would fast. After He was taken from them, fasting became a part of the spiritual discipline of His disciples.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples fasted as they sought direction from the Lord: Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
(Acts 14:23) The early church knew that the spiritual disciplines of worship, prayer, and fasting were needed to draw them near to their Lord. Fasting is a tool that helped them focus on Him rather than on satisfying their flesh. As they drew near to Him, He drew near to them and they received direction from God.
In the place of intimacy when we worship, pray, and fast, the sheep hear the voice of the Shepherd. (John 10) As we are intentional to draw near to the Lord, He leads, guides, and directs our path.
Recently I was praying about a decision facing me. I sought the Lord’s will and made a decision. When things did not seem to line up in my timing,
I began to second guess that my decision was in line with God’s will. But when I remembered that I had sought the Lord through prayer and fasting, I gained confidence that He was directing my path. The issue for me was trust.
Was I going to lean on my own understanding of how things appeared, or was I going to trust His Word that when I seek Him, I will find Him? (Jeremiah 29) Holding fast to His Word in all things has made my path straight.
Have you set aside time recently to fast and pray? The Lord will meet you in the time that you set aside to seek Him. He inhabits the praises of His people and He gives grace to the humble – those who seek Him wholeheartedly.
Help me set aside time to fast, pray and seek Your will in my life. Where I am weak, make me strong; where I am too busy, forgive me; where I am in unbelief that You will meet me as I seek You, show me the truth.
In Jesus’ name, Amen