Fire | Pentecost 2020
Silence and stillness before God (2 minutes)
Reading: Acts 12:25-13:3 (NIV)
When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark. Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping 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. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went, down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.
Decisions can be hard to make sometimes. Crucial decisions even harder. There are times when I have made decisions in haste that I've later regretted, but I can't remember a time where after I prayed, fasted, and took a particular issue before the LORD that the decision I later made tanked. Maybe it was the fasting, maybe it was the prayer, maybe it was taking time to think through the decision some more--maybe it was a combination of the three.
Here are two truths: Fasting takes time, and God is never in a rush.
Fasting can slow us down to the speed of God. Have you ever noticed that God does not move at our speed? Why? Because the things of God are slow. He works faithfully and steadily in all things. Think of the seasons, gestation, emotional and spiritual maturity, all of these take time. Often what God does in us while we wait is more important than what we're waiting for. Part of fasting is waiting. Learning to wait well is an important spiritual practice. When we fast we wait and create space to hear and follow God. The early church knew this.
In the book of Acts, where the actions of the early Church are recorded, we learn that fasting has been a part of the decision making and discernment process of Christians from the start. The Church in Antioch through prayer and fasting were able to discern and affirm the call of Paul and Barnabas and later empower and deploy them to share the gospel with the rest of the then-known world. The records of their mission trips, Pauls's in particular, and the correspondence with the churches that were planted along the way provide for us the bulk of the New Testament we read and the model that Biblical churches follow today. Today we would do well to honor and thank that church in Antioch that decided to prioritize prayer and fasting.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for the spiritual practice of fasting. Lord continue to meet me and us as we continue to fast. Call me deeper. I want to want what You want for my life. Lord, because You are God, help me to come into submission and divine alignment in the places of my life where my will and Your will, and my wants and Your wants are different. Lord, again I pray: Do what You want to do in me, so like Paul and Barnabas, You can do what You want to do through me. In Your name, I pray. Amen.
Conclude with silence and stillness before God (2 minutes)