Fasting Births Wisdom in Relationships
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord. Acts 14:23 NIV
In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas are in Turkey, and they go from Iconium to Lystra, where Paul was attacked by stoning and then dragged out of the city because they thought he was dead. But the disciples gathered around him and Paul stood up and went back into the city! What courage! What boldness! Could you imagine the response of the men who were throwing the stones?
Then the next day Paul and Barnabas went on to Derbe, preached the Gospel, “and made many disciples” (v21). Then they circle back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch to “strengthen the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith” (v22). It’s at this point that they take time to fast and pray.
Paul and Barnabas had traveled to a number of cities on multiple occasions and had led many people to faith in Jesus. They saw the need to appoint elders in every one of these new church plants. It was through prayer and fasting that they gained God’s insight on the selection process and then committed these leaders to the Lord for His power, wisdom, and Spirit to rest on their lives.
Here are three life principles to take from their practice of fasting that we can apply to our current season of prayer.
1. Fast while you’re ahead. Paul and Barnabas were on a roll. They had great momentum, but they still took time to fast and pray. They saw fasting as adding fuel to the spiritual fire. Obviously being stoned and left for dead outside of the city is persecution of the most intense nature. Paul endured hardship in this season, but he (and all the believers) saw God do incredible things in their lives, strengthen their souls, and build up their faith. Fasting takes whatever God is doing in your life (internally and externally) and multiplies the impact. Fasting is a catalytic spiritual discipline—it increases the rate of the “God-reaction” in your life and speeds up significant change in your world.
2. Fast when you need wisdom in relationship choices. Paul and Barnabas took time to fast and pray as they selected elders to be mature leaders with seasoned judgment in each church. Fasting births wisdom from God for relationships and commitments. The disciples in the early church fasted for the purpose of vetting and selecting spiritual leadership, yet the principle translates to all relationships to which you commit and engage. In this fast, ask God for His wisdom on all of your relationships: at work, if you are dating, in your marriage, future business agreements, who to hire, relating with your neighbors, and yes, in church life too! Ask God what church to attend, in what small group to be, or where to serve in your church.
3. After fasting, commit your decisions to the Lord. After the believers heard from God with His direction, they still maintained a heart of humility and submission to God. They committed the decision to the Lord and knew that the future success of their work and the health of their relationships were still in His hands. Whatever God directs you to do during this fast, commit your life and your future into His hands permanently. And DO what you hear from God and do it quickly, knowing that He is leading you.
PRAY THIS OUT LOUD
Father, I declare that You will add great momentum to my life in this season of fasting. I release all of my relationships to Your care. I submit myself to Your leadership in my life and I commit my future to You, in Jesus Name!
What verse or phrase from today’s Scripture reading was the most meaningful to me?
What key truths or observations stand out to me in today’s story of fasting?
How does the Holy Spirit want to apply this to my life today?
This is reproduced from Griffin, Chris. Fasting For Breakthrough: A 21-Day Biblical Roadmap for Fasting and Prayer (p. 80). BookBaby. Kindle Edition.