Acts 13:1-3: How’s your hearing.

“1 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 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. It has been rightly pointed out that this season of fasting changed church history and world history. On this day in Antioch, a missionary movement was born that would bring the gospel to us.” NIV

Now it is true to say that Acts 13 describes what the church did without telling us we must do the same. But surely it is recorded for our example? Isn’t there an implication that we ought to learn and follow? I obviously think so. I know it is true that Christians who give time to fasting often seem to hear God speaking to them with sharpness and clarity. It’s a bit like ‘tuning in’ time: turning the dial on the radio until all the fuzziness, hiss and crackle disappears, and you get excellent reception. There are times when church communities and leadership teams need to come together in fasting. If we are to recover apostolic Christianity, we cannot afford to neglect this discipline. We shouldn’t become unbalanced – obsessive about it. Yet I suggest we are already unbalanced if this discipline has no place in our discipleship. In a self-indulgent culture like ours, we sometimes need to fight, to resist with weapons of self-denial. There definitely is a place for fasting, and who can say where it will lead? It may involve further sacrifice. It must have cost the church at Antioch to let ‘’Barnabas and Saul’’ go, but no-one in the church belongs to the church (or to themselves); they belong to the Lord, and He strategically moves the ‘chess pieces’ around the world ‘board’. However, the church does have a key role to play in recognising and affirming God’s call on those called to be missionaries.

PRAYER: May I be more hungry for you, Lord, than for anything else. I pray that I will not shrink from the spirit of self-sacrifice for your Name’s sake.