Welcome back to our online Inductive Bible Study on the book of Acts, “The Holy Spirit Unleashed in You” at the Women’s Bible Cafe™. We just completed Week Seven, “Don’t Know What to Do? Try Prayer and Fasting.” This week we observed Acts Chapters 13 and 14, and we traced the steps of Paul’s first missionary journey on the map on page 64. But before they were sent out, the Antioch church met to pray and fast over Paul and Barnabas and what their next steps would be. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they began their first missionary journey.
“Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:3
Fasting. Have you ever given it any thought on what it truly means? Have you ever taken part in praying and fasting in your church? I did once about ten plus years ago, but I did it for all the wrong reasons. I did not know exactly what fasting truly meant, and I took part in it only because it seemed like the right thing to do since my church was taking part. I find it amazing that my Pastor spoke on the subject of fasting just this weekend at our church for a day of prayer that began on Saturday, and to prepare us for this event he suggested that we fast from Friday until Sunday. WOW! I don’t know about you, but that one day I fasted those few years back, I thought I was going to starve to death, but to fast for three whole days? Is it really possible? Yes, it is possible, because with God, all things are possible and especially when we are right in line with His Holy will.
God has been preparing me for this next step in my spiritual walk with Him so I can focus on Him through prayer and to listen to His direction for my life. My Pastor said that one of the main purposes of fasting is to suppress our physical desires so that we can focus on spiritual desires. Through fasting we hear from God and allow Him to teach us. As our bodies desire food, we must also desire the Spirit of God in our lives. Therefore, during the time we normally eat we would instead take special moments to sit in the presence of the Lord. During this time of fasting, however, it is important to drink plenty of water. The body can go days without food; however, the body cannot survive without water.
The power of prayer was important in those early days of the church in Antioch, and the power of prayer is unmistakable in the life of the church today. We need to have a more disciplined prayer life instead of a casual “praying for ya” post on Facebook. We do not have to be perfect at prayer, we just need to be persistent. Do you truly want to know God’s mind and His will for your life? Try prayer and fasting.
Kay Arthur writes in the Thought for the Week:
“Oh, how you and I need to learn the disciplines of ministering to the Lord in prayer and fasting. When we learn to sit at His feet, to seek His face, to wait upon Him, then we will know what He wants us to do.”
ASSIGNMENT FOR THE WEEK:
- Join a small group and fellowship with your fellow Bible students.
- This week we will begin doubling up on our lessons for our last three weeks of our study of Acts, so please pace yourself. Complete your study of Week Eight, “Not Perfect…But Faithful; and Week Nine, “Is Your Heart Grieved by the Idols People Worship?”
- Pray before you begin your study. Ask your resident Teacher, the Holy Spirit, to open your heart to wisdom and understanding to learn His truths.
- Store in your heart Acts 13:2, and substitute your name for Barnabas and Saul. For example: “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me, Sheree for the work to which I have called her.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR THIS WEEK (answer in small groups or post a comment here)
- Saul (also known as Paul) and Barnabas immediately responded with obedience when they knew what to do. Are you delaying obedience on something God has asked you to do? Why?
- Have you ever prayed and fasted? Will you share why you prayed and fasted and what happened as a result?
- What do you think would happen if we gave more time to ministering to the Lord in prayer and fasting? Would it make us more sensitive to the Lord’s calling of people for His work?
- What has spoken to you the most from your study this week? What did you see that you can apply to your life?