Monday, February 6, 2012
Prayer, Fasting, and Joy!
Acts 13:2 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.”
Acts 13:3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
The young band of followers of Christ did absolutely nothing without the direct leading of the Holy Spirit. While they were all very bright people and would have had excellent ideas of their own, they didn't go out on their own. Instead they spent their time worshiping the Lord and fasting. They were able to be quiet and simply listen for the voice of God. Then came the unexpected. The one who had been the persecutor of Christians was to be set apart for God's work. He and Barnabas were to go out and travel together. Back in the upper room, BEFORE they prayed the disciples had gotten together and cast lots as to who should take Judas' place among the twelve. The lot fell to Matthias, a man that we never hear about again. However, when the followers of God take time to be quiet and worship him, they hear through the Holy Spirit that Paul and Barnabas are to be set aside for the work.
The next phase was more fasting and prayer, and after this they laid their hands on them and finally sent them off. It doesn't say that they spent the next month coming up with a strategic plan, but rather that they spent MORE time with God, in prayer and fasting and then sent them off in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Things did not always go well for Paul and Barnabas. They had their struggles and yet, as they were filled with the HOly Spirit, they went on and did their work and ministry with joy.
I am afraid that all too often we are in too much of a hurry to spend the time in prayer, worship and fasting that we need to find what God truly wants from us. Today, we see all kinds of issues and problems around us and yes, they certainly do need intervention, but are we waiting to discover what it is that God would want to do in that situation?
I am personally a "doer." I It's hard for me to make myself slow down and wait on the Lord because I see things and I want to deal with them now. However, the older I become the more this message is finally getting through to me. I must set time aside on a daily basis to simply be in the Lord's presence and to listen to him and soak in all that he wants to have me do. Then, the daily journey is one in which I simply follow his leading to those divine appointments that I may have missed when I was in such a rush to get so many things done. I have had to let go of some of the "things" and replace them with quiet time with him. However, I'm so grateful for the joy and peace which comes from the daily infilling and presence of God's Holy Spirit.
What does it take? Making a conscious decision to slow down and make space for God's leading in our lives each and every single day.
Lord, thank you today for your joy! Amen.