A Call To Fasting
Elder Wm. Doyal
Pastor - Philadelphia
Decatur , Alabama
there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers;
as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and
Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As
they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate
me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when
they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them
away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed ..."
(Acts 13:1- 4a)
Fasting and prayer are doctrinal twins, and are to be a part of the preparation
that the Lord's people engage themselves in as they make ready to serve
Him, and to be used of Him in what ever calling He calls them to. This
is a Bible doctrine, and it is applicable in this present age, as evidenced
by the instance recorded in the New Testament in Acts as we have cited.
It is required that the Lord's people be taught and led to practice these
truths, both as individual believers and as members of one of the Lord's
true New Testament churches. This doctrine does apply to disciples today.
Any great or small undertaking must be considered as an assignment that
has originated with God, and has been given to His people to perform. "Lord,
what would YOU have ME to do?" ought to be on the heart, mind, and
lips of every child of God with each waking moment. Immediately on awakening,
children of God should, in deep and humble gratitude thank Him for life
and breath and for opportunity to serve Him. THEN, the question, "What
would you have me to do?"
Not only as each day begins, but throughout each day we should seek His
will. As many things as come to our minds and hearts to consider, each
action should be prefaced with proper preparation. No one can properly
perform who is improperly prepared, or ill prepared, or unprepared to do
what is required. One cannot serve God acceptably who is not prepared to
serve Him well and faithfully.
Why do I fail so often? Why do you fail so often? Could it be that we undertake
without adequate preparation? Could it be that we are ill- equipped to
do His service? Does He use dull implements to prepare His fields for sowing?
Does He bless the workman who disregards the provision that He has made
available for the workman's use? Does God give victory over enemies when
His own soldiers march to battle in their own strength and do not avail
of His arsenal of weapons.?
The texts that were cited as we began relate to one of the Lord's churches
as she received of the Lord explicit command to prepare certain men whom
He had called to a certain duty. It was not left to the option or discretion
of the church at Antioch, nor to the pastor of that church, nor to the
membership of that church, nor to the missionary inductees themselves as
to whether, or how they were to undertake this duty and march under these
orders. "... the Holy Ghost said ..."
is the final authority behind the specified duty,
and that authority is beyond any debate or question. That stated mission
assignment was specific, for it was spoken to a specific church, about
specific men, for a specific duty.
So are all other assignments that come to the Lord's churches and to His
servants. The directions are not always verbalized, or otherwise articulated
as clearly and as unmistakably as this, but specific none the less. And
it behooves us as servants and as churches to seek to ascertain exactly
and precisely what the Lord intends concerning our actions, or our waitings
upon Him as we serve Him acceptably.
Thus, fasting and prayer are means that God has ordained so that we can
better discern His will for our lives. As was evidenced by the church at
Antioch, recorded for our teaching and example, we read again: "And
as they ministered to the Lord, and FASTED, the Holy Ghost said, ...
(Vs. 2). "And when they had FASTED AND PRAYED
... (Vs. 3).
Would the church at Antioch have been likely to discern the leadership
of the Holy Spirit in this announcement had they not been in a fasting
and prayerful mode? Speculation on this issue will not help us to understand.
What we have before us in the fact that the church WAS in that mode, and
that the Holy Spirit DID speak to them so that they clearly and distinctly
knew what He wanted them to do. To ask, "What if ..."
is foolish, for "what if", is not relevant to the
Scriptures. The Scriptures speak, and leave nothing to "what if", as verified
in this case, and as is true in all other cases.
It is my belief and conviction that the Lord's children are, generally,
in such state of unbelief and / or backsliding until they are much more
feeble and weak then they could or should be. It is my conviction that
weak and feeble workmen seldom perform well, and seldom receive the blessing
of "good and faithful" servants. In effect, when we do not perform
our duties faithfully and well, we have done two great wrongs. First, we
have dishonored our God who has called us to His field, and secondly, in
doing so, we have forfeited the blessings that we could have received,
had we been obedient and faithful.
I stand amazed at the number of times that I have witnessed, or heard others
confess the many empty days, weeks, months, and years that have gone by
when their lives did not seem joyous and happy. But even more amazing to
me is the fact that so often these same individuals ask anyone with whom
they are in contact, "Why do problems continue in my life? Why do these
things happen to me? I am a Christian, and yet my life is so unfulfilled.
I am so empty and confused. Does God not love me anymore? If He does, why
does He let these awful things to happen in my life?"
Oh, dear professing Christian, do you not read in God's Bible His directions
for your life? Do you not hear His messengers tell you that you are to
submit to His ways and conduct your life according to His precepts and
principles? Do you not have enough interest in God's ways to lead you to
study, fast, and pray? Do you not hear God?
thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD,
the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there
is no searching his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to
them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint
and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait
upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings
as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not
faint." (Isaiah 40:28-31).
Our weakness is compensated by His supply. And it is not a matter of "me
and God". Rather, it is a matter of His children drawing on His strength,
as we are enabled to realize that He alone is the source of all good things.
He alone supplies our need as we lean hard on Him and drink at His spring,
and feast at His table. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth
me." (Philippians 4:13) "For it is God which worketh in you
both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)
Please consider now what James says as he writes to the scattered saints
of God among Israel's race whom God had scattered abroad at the dispersion.
God had sent them abroad, that is, to far places, to spread His word and
to teach them that even in their goings, they must rely upon, and trust
Him for their needed strength and enablement.
any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, that giveth to all men liberally,
and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith,
nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven
with the wind and tossed." (James 1:5,6)
then, he brings this charge against them:
lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye
fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive
not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."
Jesus Himself, said to His disciples, "If ye abide in me, and my words
abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
(John 15:7) Clearly, Jesus is instructing His disciples in faithful
abiding. He is assuring them that if they abide in Him, and His words abide
in them, THEN, they may ask what they will, and they shall receive accordingly.
The implication is also crystal clear that where there is no abiding, there
is no assurance of receiving. Disciples are responsible to abide (continue)
and to keep the teaching of His words, if they are to expect any blessing.
"And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
Is there success when God's people obey Him? Is there connection between
proper preparation, which clearly includes fasting and prayer, to the successful
discharge of the duty and obligation that God assigns? Let's remember the
attitude and the action of the church at Antioch that attention was called
to as we began this treatise, and then let's look to the record of that
church and her God called and sent missionaries.
Paul and his companions were used of the Lord in mighty ways for a number
of years in the spreading of the gospel of the grace of God to the regions
of the world heretofore left untouched. Multitudes of God's elect were
called by the gospel unto salvation. Many churches were established, strengthened,
and caused to function faithfully for many years. In fact, the entire Gentile
world, as well as Israel still bear the glorious effects of this church
at Antioch and the faithful disciples continuance in fasting and prayer
as they labored those many years. And always, the missionaries returned
at the conclusion of their separate
to rehearse with their church the mighty ways in which the Holy Spirit
had sustained them and blessed their work.
I now call upon the Christian people of America and the world to come back
to God's way, and prepare for service the Lord's way, by fasting and prayer.
0 Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy
God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk
of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the
way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt
bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between
thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and
on thy gates." (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray,
and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from
heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (II
Baptist Herald - July , 1995)
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