Here at the University of Texas we are 13 days into a 21-day fast. About 200 students and staff from about a dozen ministries are fasting together and praying every day at 7am, 8am or 8pm. It has been wonderful.
When I started the fast, I was not seeking God for anything specific. However, God surprised me with something specific to more intentionally pray about.
I sense God is leading me to reconsider my mission. I sense He may be leading me to a more broken and needy people (outwardly I mean, because we’re all broken inwardly). I sense God may be leading my wife and I to focus more on ministering to the “least of these.”
I have at least 8 more days of fasting to pray into it. As it turns out, its quite Biblical to do so.
Fasting and Mission
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 13:2
This was how the first official missionaries were sent. It was after a period of fasting and prayer that the Lord revealed His will to the early church, and then Paul and Barnabas were sent out. John also went with them.
It was a corporate fast, something they all did together not just as individuals. Collectively they sought God’s wisdom and God revealed his will. The best decisions are made in community when we all prayerfully consider what God has next for us and discuss what we sense God is saying. Together we can discern God’s will, especially when we are fasting together.
Fasting and Leadership
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. Acts 14:23
This was how the first elders were appointed. Paul and Barnabas returned to the cities where they had previously ministered, but this time went to appoint elders. Their mission a began with fasting (discernment on who would go) and ended with fasting (discernment on who would lead the churches).
Notice they did not vote on leaders. Instead, just like they did before they were sent, they fasted and prayed in community so that they could together hear from God. He made His will known. Though it’s not in scripture, I’m sure the elders repeated the same pattern when they later sent their own missionaries.
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.