Fasting and Praying

Acts 13:1-12

It is amazing what you can see from a hotel window. On Thursday and Friday this past week, I looked out the hotel window to see what the day was going to be like. It was like 7:30 in the morning and there across the way I could see two women working away at their desks. Now I am thinking they have work to do that doesn’t require much interaction with co-workers. So these women arrived at work early enough to beat traffic both in the morning and the afternoon. So, when we work there will be ways we can work on our own.

When it comes to following Jesus, we will have times when we can work by ourselves. There is also much time we followers of Jesus work with each other. The early church, a healthy church at this point in time, realizes the need for the followers of Jesus to work together. So, they continue to pray, break bread, hear the apostles’ teaching, and fellowship together. We find the early church in Antioch praying together.

It is not only praying together that they are doing. Together, they are worshipping God. Worship is a work which points to the ability and goodness of someone higher. In this case, the church in Antioch was worshipping the Lord. It will be good for us to see what was happening during their worship of the Lord.

A. Worship is our work (13:1-3)
+++1. The leaders of the church were involved in worshipping the Lord
+++2. These leaders, and presumably others, heard instructions from the Holy Spirit
++++++a. Worship – work of praise, admiration
++++++b. Prayer – speaking with and listening to the Lord
+++3. After the hearing instructions, the church continued their work
++++++a. Fasting – turning aside from what we desire and pursuing what God desires for us
++++++b. Prayer – working out the details with Jesus
+++4. They laid hands on Barnabas and Saul, sending them on their way
+++5. How many men and women have heard God calling them to be a preacher or a missionary while they were worshipping with other followers of Jesus? How many youth have heard God calling them to be a preacher or a missionary while they were worshipping with other followers of Jesus? I pray that we have more men, women, and youth hear God calling them to be preachers and missionaries. If they don’t hear for themselves, then I hope as we are worshipping the Lord, we hear from the Holy Spirit who we are to set aside to be preachers and missionaries.
+++6. If we have not heard God calling specific people to be set aside for ministry, are we praying for such to happen? Are we willing to give up a day’s eating so we can hear God call someone to some work?
+++7. There are people being called to God’s work today. Part of my work as an elder is to work through this process with other people. (Explain dCOM and BOM’s work). None of this can happen unless we are worshipping the Lord.

B. Through our worship, the Holy Spirit sends people out to be involved in ministry (13:4-12)
+++1. Barnabas and Saul/Paul were set aside for the work the Holy Spirit called them to do
+++2. They left Antioch (they left were they were comfortable)
+++3. Bar-Jesus/Elymas, the Jewish false prophet, opposed them (they went were they were not comforted)
+++4. The Holy Spirit gave Paul words to bind Elymas
+++5. Sergius Paulus saw what happened and believed
+++6. When we start a ministry, we find we have many questions and even opposition to our work. Molly had many questions, and many more affirmations, before she went to Utah to work among the poor. We prayed for her and laid hands on her before she went to Utah. Now that she is doing another service to God, we continue to pray for her. As Meghin prepares to spend 6 months in South Africa, we are praying with her for discernment in her preparations. We pray that any opposition to Meghin’s work would be overcome through the Holy Spirit so more people can believe in the Lord.

Worship is vital for this church. As followers of Jesus, together we can serve God in times of community worship. We spend time praying together so we can lift up other people, voice our concerns for our own lives, and seek the good God has for us.

Worship is vital for you. As a follower of Jesus, we individually serve God in times of community worship. We add our prayers to the prayers of the community. We speak to God about the concerns of others. We seek what God has for other followers of Jesus.

Then there is the matter of fasting. Maybe we haven’t heard from the Lord because we have not given up for a time those things which we hold dear. What better things could God give us if we were willing to spend time without food for a day? What better things would God bless this church with if we all decided to fast together?

For Lent, as medically possible, let’s fast one day a week. At a minimum let’s give up two consecutive meals. If you feel lead to fast up to three days in a row, then do so. If you think God wants you to fast from Ash Wednesday through Easter, then do let someone else know what you are doing. As we fast, may we hear from God about the ones who are to be set aside for ministry.

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