Speaking to the Soul – July 9

Worship and Fasting

One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way. Acts 13:2–3

Acts is often referred to as the Acts of the Apostles. A much better title for it would be the Acts of the Holy Spirit. Important as the apostles undoubtedly were, they were powerless without the Spirit. Nothing got going until the Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost and, as history unfolded, the power, wisdom and guidance of the Spirit shaped every step of the journey. Here in chapter 13, we come to a decisive moment as the Spirit tells the church to set Barnabas and Saul apart for a new ministry.

Nothing has changed. The church today still completely relies upon the Spirit, but his guidance isn’t automatic. It is perfectly possible for a church to be driven by tradition, human plans and budgets. It is only as a church intentionally and deliberately seeks the guidance of the Spirit that he leads his people. The church in Antioch clearly was absolutely determined to hear what the Spirit was saying to them, and they showed their commitment by spending time worshipping and fasting. It was in that context that the Spirit spoke to them. Fasting has never been laid down as an essential activity for Christians but, time and again, God has chosen to speak when people have fasted. Fasting releases time and energy to focus on prayer. And having heard the Spirit speak to them, the leaders then fasted and prayed some more – before placing their hands on Saul and Barnabas and sending them on their first missionary journey.

In what ways have you seen the Holy Spirit lead your church? Have you found fasting helpful?

Lord God, thank you for the gift of your Spirit to the Church today. Help me to listen with care to everything he has to say to me. Amen.